By Lilac Schoenbeck

The evolution of the cloud has heralded the need for businesses to also evolve. In fact, there are more cloud services, platforms and environments being developed every day. However, the term ‘cloud’ often refers to many different types of implementations – and, therefore, the term has lost clarity without additional context.

Recently, there has been an influx in reports on how companies are building private clouds – or what they would perceive to be private clouds. For example, a recent Gartner analyst blogged about the failure of private clouds.  According to the findings, 19 percent of survey respondents reported to be doing ‘too little.’ In other words, their private clouds were nothing more than over-hyped virtualisation.

So, what are the limiting factors? In most cases, these private clouds lack true end-user self-service or a chargeback model within the organisation. Further, it is often challenging to determine which cloud services best suit the organisation’s or the user’s needs.

That said, it’s helpful to explore this ‘too little is being done with private cloud’ perception further. If ‘over-hyped virtualisation’ is working for an organisation, should that not be enough? Many companies do not have the user population ready themselves to initiate workloads in a private cloud. Others understand that shifting the financial model of IT is a large-scale change that is well beyond the scope of their experience or influence. Sure, it’s important to keep striving for more cloudy functionality to drive business forward, but it would be a mistake to denigrate the strides already made.

The remaining challenges most organisations face around private cloud centre on changing behaviours. These issues can be hard to tackle alone, and this is why so many similar hurdles often require external intervention. Let’s face it. Personal trainers, dieticians and medical professionals all exist because people can find it hard to change or challenge themselves without help. If everyone benefitted from all the self-motivation and objectivity in the world, no one would hire a psychologist to help work through their grief, hire a trainer to shed the weight or see a doctor to evaluate a mole. Third parties, however, have the ability to see more clearly and set guidelines more objectively than people do themselves. This professional ‘detachment’ allows for an unbiased review of the individual’s needs and often leads to a clear path to improvement.

This type of thinking is very true for cloud too. Cloud continues to take on increasing importance for IT organisations. And there are many valid reasons why organisations continue to need all or part of a specific technology stack to run on private cloud – whether it be for data isolation purposes, corporate policy, unique performance requirements or other considerations. The fact remains, however, that private cloud challenges can prevent an organisation from fully benefiting from the agility, cost and scalability promises of cloud. This is where the help of an experienced cloud provider that emphasises service can make all the difference, particularly as they help assess challenges and business goals and match them to possible solutions. In many cases, the solution involves a virtual private cloud or hybrid cloud that allows a company to satisfy their needs for a private environment while overcoming the limitations of said environment.

For example, while it’s very difficult to change an internal cost account model from within IT and demand variable internal billing, it’s fairly easy to present a more fluid bill from a cloud provider as a ‘cost of business’ (provided the vendor offers transparent pricing). Likewise, it’s difficult to maintain focus on agility-at-all-costs internally with nonstop budget meetings taking place, but it’s easy to get that agility built-in from an external provider. Hybrid cloud can also help optimise costs, as it allows organisations to take advantage of cloud bursting to handle infrequent but significant load spikes without having to over-purchase resources that are only utilised occasionally.

This is to say that private clouds – or over-hyped virtualisation as some say – should be used, and praised for their success. Hybrid cloud however, can help organisations reach and exceed goals if they work with a trusted partner. When choosing a provider, interview them as you would a nutritionist or a trainer to confirm they have a philosophy and operating model that will support your progress. Ultimately, select a provider that you feel comfortable with, because this growth and change in your organisation’s behaviour is best facilitated with an understanding, engaged, and expert partner.

In summary, private cloud isn’t failing. It’s delivering against its potential. It’s the hybrid cloud that can get you the rest of the way. In many situations, organisations need the ability to run both a private infrastructure with specific applications on-premises and a cloud service that hosts additional applications, files or databases. Hybrid cloud provides IT with the ultimate in flexibility and control; and with the right partner helping you to achieve your goals, IT becomes a business enabler, not just a problem solver.