Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Public or Private Cloud? Wrong Question!

Many people are asking if it is best to use a public or private cloud. They are asking the wrong question.

The bigger issue for most organizations is not whether to use a private or public cloud, but whether to use any cloud at all. The issue here is not whether the cloud is a good idea or a bad idea, but whether the organization has sufficient maturity to make effective use of any cloud. Most don't.

Most organizations use a pre-cloud architecture. The cloud places specific demands on a app with respect to efficiency, performance, reliability, and security. Very few organizations understand these demands and thus very few apps of any significant size are architected to meet those demands.

A good historical comparison is the switch from client/server programming to three-tier programming. A new generation of technologies enabled three-tier programming, namely transaction processing monitors (TPMs.) TPMs promised a radical improvement in the efficiency of computer resources, very similar to what the cloud promises today. Many organizations took their existing client/server applications and "ported" them to a TPM environment. They then discovered the hard way that a client/server architecture is totally unsuited for a TPM environment.

Organizations that take their existing three-tier, SOA, or even client/server apps and "port" them to the cloud are in for an equally rude awakening. They will find that these apps are expensive to run, highly fragile, insecure, and will have poor performance.

Asking if a public or private cloud is best for most apps is like asking if a public or private road is best for most boats.

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