Private Cloud: Waiting for that SD-WAN Moment

Private Cloud: Waiting for that SD-WAN Moment

People have been claiming to have a private cloud for six or seven years, even though (as we discussed recently here) they didn’t and don’t, really.

Why don’t they have a private cloud yet?

Private Cloud is Hard

To be their own Amazon Web Services (or Microsoft Azure, or Google Compute Platform and App Engine, or IBM Softlayer and BlueMix) goes well beyond server virtualization.  To be fully elastic in resourcing,  comprehensively redundant, fully software defined, and rich in the services that make application deployment easy and quick IT needs many layers of software atop hypervisors and virtual networking and storage virtualization.  Enterprises need orchestration and automation and specialized network and application services for everything from encryption and firewalling to load balancing and message queuing to databases and application execution to performance and usage monitoring.

Getting to this kind of rich architecture is not easy or fast.  Most enterprises have built up a portfolio of services like this, of course, but they are all separate from each other and, ultimately, it is the humans that provide the orchestration and application deployment and accounting and resource management. Cloud management platforms (CMPs) like VMware vRealize Suit (and tools from BMC and Dell and HP and others) try to provide the essentials, but leave gaps or provide only the most basic functionality, and are sometimes difficult to install and configure and operate.  As one of our clients remarked, after a couple of failed pilots and a pivot from planning a private cloud to diving into the public cloud, “Why should I invest hundreds of staff hours developing thousands of lines of scripting and coding to turn their basic load balancer into an enterprise class global load balancer when Amazon has already done it and I can deploy with a few clicks?”

Of course, there are reasons to want to have a private cloud still, ranging from more comprehensive control of data to a desire for competitively differentiating services to an ability to do things more cheaply (and yes, costs can still be lower for in-house IT services).

The Quest for Simpler and Easier

Fewer than 14% of organizations have HCI in production, and fewer for private cloud, but another 43% are evaluating it.

So, the quest for a simpler and easier approach to deploying one continues as well.  CMPs continue to get more sophisticated, and “cloud in a box” offerings such as Platform9 and ZeroStack push the envelope of simplicity in deployment. Network functions virtualization and SDN tools continue to broaden the portfolio of network services and architectures possible. And converged and hyperconverged infrastructures (HCI) such as Nutanix and Cisco’s UCS and HPE’s Simplivity chip away at the hardware layer.  (We’re not seeing a lot of adoption of HCI yet, but there’s a lot of interest:

Will 2017 be the breakthrough year?  Will private cloud get its own version of the”SD-WAN Moment” we saw last year, when a handful of pioneering vendors such as VeloCloud, Viptela, CloudGenix, and broad wave of vendors from diverse backgrounds such as Mushroom and Talari (link aggregation) and SilverPeak and Riverbed (WAN optimization) made a holistic, software-defined WAN a reality?  I know a lot of enterprises are hoping so.

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