Our Thinking
Public or Private clouds for SMEs?
04 August 2012 | Posted by Stephen Mahood

Private clouds are often touted as the answer for the perceived shortcomings of public clouds. Private clouds are cloud environments deployed solely within an organisation, and to be the real thing they need to have rapid elasticity, on-demand self-service, measured service, broad network access and resource pooling.  If any of these characteristics are absent, the solution is not a cloud solution!

It’s perfectly conceivable that such cloud environments can be deployed in a private environment, but the cost can be significant. Furthermore, it demands a full service mind-set: the organisation (usually the IT department) becomes the provider, and consumer (the business divisions or users) will expect a fully flexible, scalable, self-provisioned service without any interaction with the IT department!  Meanwhile, the IT department has to provide an infrastructure that appears ‘infinite’, which requires huge investment in large virtualisation platforms with cloud orchestration software on top (such as openstack or cloudstack).

Smaller organisations will therefore find it hard to deploy private clouds.  Here at Kainos, for example, we estimated that it would cost more than £300k to provide a private cloud for just over 370 people.  And even then, we would not be getting the true flexibility of the cloud because we would always bear the operational cost of the platform regardless of the resources upon it.

Public clouds like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure are all about scale, and the benefits are realised because lots of customers use the service. Private clouds certainly have a place, but should not be the de facto solution for organisations, particularly those with limited scale.

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