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Clearing the Cloud Part 3: 'Private Cloud' Is Just a Different Way of Thinking

All of today's talk of "clouds" is often accompanied by "private cloud," a phrase that's nearly as overused and useless as "cloud" itself. Isn't a "private cloud" just what we used to call "our datacenter?"

From a technical perspective, yes. The private cloud is just the stuff that's always been in your datacenter. What's different is in how you manage that stuff, and in how you offer it to your organization.

The public cloud has some very specific characteristics that differentiate it from the type of outsourcing we've used in the past:

  1. Self-service. You spin up new services as you need them, and they come online almost instantly.
  2. Pay as you go. You're typically billed for what you use: Bandwidth, disk space, processing power, number of users, and so forth.
  3. Abstractedness. You don't typically have a technology-centric view, meaning you're not necessarily dealing with servers and disks. You get your resources from a giant pool, which from your perspective is infinite.

A private cloud is simply the old datacenter, re-tweaked to offer those characteristics. Being able to create charge-backs based on individual departments' or users' actual utilization is one characteristic that starts to make your datacenter look cloudy. Spinning up virtual machines more or less on demand is privately cloudy. Being able to shuffle VMs around to whatever physical host has the necessary resources to run it, all invisible to your "customers," is private cloudishness.

As with the concept of "cloud," the private cloud isn't some amazing new set of technologies: It's just a different way of managing your technologies.

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Posted by Don Jones on 02/09/2012 at 1:14 PM


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