While being an advocate and evangelist for all things cloud, and all things public cloud for that matter, I’m also a pragmatist. Private cloud, while not meeting some theoretical utopian ideal, has value and validity and is driving benefits for organizations across the globe. No matter what the puritans might like to think.

I spent much of last week with  a fantastic group of people at Glue conference and enjoyed talking with some smart members of the Clouderati – people like Chris Hoff, James Urquhart and Christian Reilly. Reilly in particular brings a really interesting perspective to the public/private cloud debate. Involved in a where-the-rubber-meets-the-road way with a global organization of some 60000 employees, Reilly sees the daily realities of legacy applications, “just keep the lights on” budgets and multiple issues around compliance and security.

Recently my colleague and friend, Phil Wainewright, wrote a post that reflected on the private cloud. You see Wainewright is a vociferous opponent of private cloud, he believes that all arguments to justify the creation of private clouds can be squarely discredited. To him, it would seem, the private cloud is little more than a way of feeling good about the cloud, while really not driving organizational benefits. In his post, and to justify his perspective, Wainewright reflected on the polar opposite experiences of Reilly at his organization, and Adrian Cockcroft from Netflix. You see these two practitioners sit at opposite ends of the continuum – Netflix is almost completely public cloud, while Reilly’s organization is completely private. Wainewright seized on some reflections that Reilly had made about his personal excitement at witnessing the revelatory impacts of the Netflix model, and took those reflections as a total rebuttal of the validity of private cloud.

The truth of the matter is somewhat different, and I sat down with Reilly at Glue to discuss this. You see Reilly has spent several years building his private cloud. He’s built something that drives value in terms of speed of delivery and geographical reach. Quite simply Reilly’s private cloud has been a resounding success for his organization. True Reilly is a visionary, and one who has the fortune (or perhaps misfortune) to spend a lot of time with practitioners playing in the public cloud world. Naturally he sees an aspirational public cloud  perspective and yearns for that but that doesn’t in any way invalidate the direction his organization has taken to date. An analogy if you will. While many red blooded males may aspire to wed (or perhaps bed) any one of a number of supermodels, that doesn’t change their current reality.

Yes Reilly has dream of a public cloud future – when we all live forever happy in a public utopia. But for now, and with the fundamentals of his organization, he’s happy with the benefits that the private cloud have delivered to him. As he said;

Today, there is every reason for private cloud to exist because it some cases, like in ours where $ ownership for infrastructure and LoB applications lives in different fiefdoms, it can bring efficiencies and value in areas where you can absolutely NOT get the stakeholder alignment and buy in that you need to deal with the $, FUD and internal politics that are barriers to public cloud

Reilly is a dreamer (but in entirely the right way). He wants to change the world and live in a place where every ounce of efficiency is achieved. But he’s also a realist that spends his time at the coalface – it’s difficult in existing organizations to justify the money involved in re-architecting applications to move to the public cloud. Yes we will get there some day, but right here, and right now, private cloud is driving benefits for his, and many other organization.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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