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I was just reading a NetworkWorld article called “Internal clouds are more than just virtualization” and it’s got some pretty good dataForrester Cloud Appeal Chart (and perspective) about how companies view internal clouds.

One interesting (but not so surprising) quote in the article is this one:

…when asked to define the internal cloud, IT executives typically replied “my VMware environment”

Sure, many internal clouds will run on the back of VMware, but not all. And VMware alone will not satisfy all of the business’s requirements for running an effective internal cloud.

Why not? I can think of several reasons:

  1. “The cloud” is about more than technology. Simply virtualizing something is not enough – the organization must commit to sharing of resources, information, infrastructure, policies, SLA’s, technology frameworks, etc. across the organization. Today’s silo-oriented companies don’t share this kind of thing very well – and it’s a hard skill to learn.
  2. Management tools for the cloud are in their infancy. The lack of consistency, shared visibility, integration/orchestration, and a framework for policy-based management of cloud infrastructure will slow down cloud adoption for years to come. Back in the 80’s, I remember when numerous publications would declare each year “The Year of the LAN” when every organization would have a fully-networked infrastructure. It took a decade to become a reality. I predict we will have several consecutive “Year of the Cloud” years before the cloud is adopted in a majority of enterprises (in the NetworkWorld article, Forrester pegs current adoption of “true internal clouds” at something like 2%, which feels about right to me).
  3. Microsoft is just getting started. Microsoft has been declared dead a lot of times in recent memory (the internet, browsers, facing “death vs. Linux,” etc.) They are still around. In the context of virtualization and clouds, Microsoft is making a move, with virtualization included in the server and desktop OS’s (Windows Server 2008, Windows 7), online / cloud application services (Azure), and improving their management tools (System Center, VMM, etc.)Microsoft has proven to be resilient and patient in the past, so don’t underestimate them in this area, either. And Microsoft’s System Center business unit brings in more revenue today than the company VMware, so they can sustain a long march in this area.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not counting VMware out, but they will need to move aggressively to make it easier to manage the cloud infrastructure, as well as unify virtual and non-virtual resources to be successful in the long term.

  4. Automation, a cornerstone of the cloud, will simultaneously help and hinder cloud adoption. What do I mean? This relates back to the lack of a consistent, policy-based framework for managing the cloud. People will flock to automated tools which will allow them to screw things up that much faster. This will cause some organizations to lose confidence in the cloud which will cause them to pull back and take more of a “wait & see” approach.

Time will, of course, allow things to stabilize but I think we all have a lot to learn before that happens. In the long run, I think the cloud pays off big time, and the journey will be worth it.

That’s how I see things in my current snapshot in time. What do you think?