Using private clouds for all the right reasons

Here's why some customers are adopting the technology -- and what they're doing.

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Who's hot right now

Fast-forward a few years and VMware is currently dominant among private cloud software vendors, followed by a group of other traditional vendors vying for a leg up. These include BMC, CA, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Cisco and Microsoft, according to Forrester's Nelson.

VMware "doesn't have the strongest solution in the market but it's the most adopted," she says.

That's because VMware's other products are so widely used. "People stick with what they know," says consultant Linthicum. "Their VMware rep is on speed dial and they've been using them for 10 years and it works well. They're the path of least resistance," he says.

Microsoft is in a similar situation. For dedicated .Net shops, sticking with Microsoft seems like the obvious choice. "They're going to use [Microsoft's] hypervisors and private cloud instances," he says. That's the reason Xerox's development arm in India went with Microsoft to build its private cloud.

It decided to migrate to a private cloud in order to be able to replicate the production environment in its U.S. based data centers. Without it, the developers in India were struggling to do load and performance testing, which was leading to poor quality software, says CIO Padmanabhan.

Private cloud

"I was realizing that most of my spend was with Microsoft so this was a natural extension for us," he explains. Consolidating under one vendor makes it easier for him to monitor IT spending, he says. Also, 80% of his engineers are Microsoft-certified.

Plus, it turned out that Microsoft met his needs.

Curiously, Xerox's production cloud in the U.S. is VMware-based. "It doesn't really matter," Padmanabhan says. "We just take the configuration of the server and instantiate the same configuration using Hyper-V."

Microsoft argues it makes a lot of sense for businesses to keep using its products. "Customers are being asked to rip and replace existing infrastructure in order to become more efficient or act more like the cloud," Microsoft's Schutz says. "We believe that cloud should just be a feature of products that they already deploy."

Cloud features are now built into Systems Center and Windows Server, which he says currently "runs on 75% of all servers on the planet." Given that Microsoft runs huge worldwide services like and Office 365, customers can benefit from Microsoft's internal experiences, he claims.

Dell, which offers services that help customers build clouds using Microsoft or VMware products as well as OpenStack, often sees businesses that use multiple technologies. For instance, a business might build an OpenStack cloud for new workloads but transition an existing data center to a private cloud using VMware or Microsoft products for existing workloads, says Joseph B. George, director of Dell Cloud and Big Data Solutions.

Customers that Dell talks to say they're interested in OpenStack in part because of the future. "They want control of the roadmap to some degree rather than relying on any vendor to drive what the cloud environment will look like," he says.

VMware is trying to set itself up to operate in that new environment. "The world won't be just one giant VMware cloud," says VMware's Adams. "We're under no misconceptions that that will happen." As a result, VMware has been trying to spread the word that businesses can run OpenStack on a VMware hypervisor.

Among the new technologies, OpenStack seems to have the most momentum, Nelson says.

Developers often drive vendor choice, says Michael Cote, director for cloud strategy at Dell. Some developers will prefer the openness of OpenStack and the community around it, while others may have spent their careers developing on traditional IT vendors and so be inclined to choose those.

Wherever businesses are in their private-cloud journey, Linthicum suggests looking at all available options: The traditional enterprise vendors, rather than just the one a given shop is already using, as well as the upstart technologies.

With all the new choices, industry watchers say, it's clear that the competitive landscape is changing.

This article, Don't get caught up in the private-cloud hype, was originally published at

Nancy Gohring is a freelance writer covering cloud computing, mobile phones and wireless networks. Follow her on Twitter (@ngohring and contact her at

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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