You don’t hear much about successful “Private Clouds” because they aren’t done in public. Two takeaways.
- People are talking a lot about public cloud because its good business not necessarily because its good technology 
- Private Clouds are being successfully deployed in vast numbers and no one is talking about them. This is also good business and probably because its good technology.
Some companies choose to be public about their cloud participation.
- Recruiting. Cloud computing of any type need people who have different skills focus but mostly its about attitude, flexibility and excellence (recruiters are bad at this). Chatting to people at conferences is job searching that is many times cheap than recruitment companies.
- Marketing. Speaking at conferences using your company brand name usually costs a lot of money. The poster child of public cloud, Amazon AWS, gets vast amounts of free marketing that could well be measured in hundreds of millions.
- Open Source Participation. Get other companies to start using your software and wait for the free software contributions to roll in to your platform.
- Open Source Exposure. Encouraging other developers to start using your open source project. Build a pool of resources that using, developing and supporting your platform so that you can save money on recruiting (see above) and get more contributions(see above).
- Ego. Some people like to think that what they do matters and they should receive public recognition for doing their day-to-day job. Just a very few will actually deserve it.
- Competitive Advantage Strategic business advantage is gained by showing competitors how your IT makes your more competitive.
- Startup Crash Landing working in startups has few guarantees. The most likely outcome is that your next job is just around the corner and public speaking is a fine addition to your résumé.
These are all fine reasons for being open and speaking about your IT success. In particular, using public cloud platforms means that your chances of systemic competitive differentiation is zero. 
Most companies do not talk about their cloud participation.
- Competitive Advantage. Many companies invest in IT to achieve competitive advantage. Highlighting your advantage will negate the investment.
- Cost. Its cost serious money in lost time, travel and supervision to release resources for travel. 
- Measurable Gain. The returns on public speaking are largely intangible & immeasurable. Why waste effort
- Legal. Some industries are highly regulated and the
- IT Security. Two aspects to security. One, open discussion of your internal architecture is providing reconnaissance information to an attacker .
- Brand Security. Employees speaking on behalf of company are at risk of causing brand damage, public outcry, etc. People who have families to care for (compared to most public cloud consumers) have real fears of failure that will cause serious damage to their personal lives.
There are also lesser reasons for rejecting public engagement. While often these are retrograde and focussed on the past they are nonetheless real:
- Inflexibility: It’s never been done before.
- No perceived value: Measuring the internal cost vs the perceived value is difficult for companies who have never engaged openly.
- Fear of Failure Why take
- Why Bother We have insufficient resources. 
- Fear of Speaking Mature, established companies have no experience in the mechanics of speaking. It will, perhaps, take some time for them to embrace the value of openness.
Private Clouds Are, Well, Private
The majority of companies using public cloud have limited financial resources. They don’t make a profit and cash burn/cash flow is a critical issue. The ability to achieve any form of exposure is, well, good and a chance of a soft landing into when your startup crashes (as most of them do).
The technology press has been massively skewed towards public cloud simply because there is material to be used. Public speaking, public figures who are accessible for interviews/coffee. Private cloud owners simply don’t engage in public debate. I mean, why bother ?
In the real world, private Clouds are far more flexible and practical for the most companies. It is the only cloud solution that will support your legacy software AND support the implementation of next generation cloud technologies.
Private Cloud Is Also The Answer
I’m concerned that there widespread market bias leading ( a Confirmation Bias most likely) that strongly supports public cloud as the only possible solution. The disruption isn’t caused by public cloud, it’s caused by technologies that public cloud must use. Without them, public cloud isn’t viable, practical or even possible.
Public cloud has been the first companies to embrace DevOps/Automation/OrchestrationPortals/APIs/REST/JSON etc because that is the best way to run an IT infrastructure. Enterprise IT will be slower to embrace these since they are 1) not technology-only companies 2) they must sustain heirloom technologies while transitioning to cloud in their private data centres.
Being forced into technology change isn’t a bad thing. Look at smartphones and the speed of innovation that has been possible because phones are replaced on a bi-annual cycle.
Public cloud cheer squads have formed to force change onto consumers. Again, no bad thing since the resistance to change is substantial and significant. What these clouderati cheerleaders have conveniently forgotten is that the same technology drives/deploy/ private cloud and delivers the same value. Orchestration and automation works just as well in private cloud.
Also key, scaling down the technology to private cloud size is a simple task and removes a key objection to deploying it. The public cloud is a sweet testing platform for private clouds. Lets test it, see it how it works and then deploy the technology that we need.
Back to my two things:
- Public clouds aren’t the best solution just because people are talking about them.
- Private Clouds are being successfully deployed in vast numbers and no one is talking them.
The EtherealMind View
One feature of the public cloud is that sheer number of resources available to help with adoption. Practical, useful resources that talk about the good, bad & ugly help to get the job done. This information removes very costly processes like pre-sale proof-of-concept, time spent in meetings and more. On the other hand, public cloud is hard and requires a full replacement of all your existing IT to embrace.
You don’t hear much about private cloud because its private. No egos, no resume boosting, no travel, and some minor security reasons. Private clouds exist, are successful and going through exactly the same growing pains as public clouds but there are reasons why private clouds are private.
This article first appeared in an Issue of the Human Infrastructure Magazine at Packet Pushers. You can signup to receive the magazine by email and for free by subscribing here.
- Most cloud technology is better than existing technology because most existing IT technology is obsolete by at least a decade. ↩
- Once everyone is using the same technology, there is no advantage between competitors. (computing/storage/networking is unlikely to be fungible resource like electricity in the next 50 years). ↩
- Not everyone wants to work nights and weekends. Not everyone thinks that speaking at a conference is a fun activity. ↩
- Security through obscurity isn’t best practice but when attackers have your source code, ↩
- Startups have far more human resources than a typical enterprise IT team. They must cope with far more complexity than a typical Internet startup – more platforms, more operating systems, diverse applications and have little access to high quality people and support. ↩