Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Nickels and dimes don't drive enterprise IT

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Jim Stogdill has a Public vs. private cloud: Price isn’t enough piece up on O’Reilly Radar which is well worth a read. Here’s the gist of his analysis:

I think this is the point that some public cloud proponents miss. We are talking about decisions that at least feel like high risk, and they don’t seem to produce the material levels of ROI necessary to give up control.

This is not unlike the choices consumers make every day when they buy a car and choose the convenience of an SUV over the fuel economy of alternatives. For many people, the incremental fuel cost just isn’t that big of a deal in the context of their total household budget. If they do choose not to go with an SUV, it’s often because of other concerns.

I think private cloud will be around, at least in very large enterprises, for a long time and for similar reasons. The control the chief information officer (CIO) (and general counsel) seeks will trump the narrower interests of Rational Economic CFO. And I don’t see lots of CIOs taking huge risks and kicking off expensive five-year transition plans to improve profitability by 0.4%.

We’ve seen this sort of dynamic before by the way, albeit with considerably different particulars. One example is the push for the Linux desktop back in the 2000s. It could save money and it could get organizations out of Microsoft lock-in. But ten years later, Microsoft to Linux (on the desktop specifically—servers are a whole different matter) hasn’t happened in a broad way and, at this point, isn’t a very relevant or important battlefield anyway. However, the savings and other benefits just weren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things to most organizations compared to uncertainties, risks, and the general distraction of a large scale user-facing migration. The same might be said of any number of other client technologies such as VDI.

None of this is to say that using public clouds for some workloads isn’t often valuable. Or even that some organizations (especially those below some threshold of size) won’t take the public cloud plunge all the way. But wholesale change requires truly compelling benefit at the level of the organization as a whole. And that’s mostly beyond what a full public cloud migration can deliver.

This situation just further highlights why hybrid clouds are today’s reality as has been shown in both numerous surveys and our daily interactions with customers at Red Hat. And it also highlights why hybrid cloud management platforms and portable operating systems are such a big deal.

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