The Cloud – Internal vs. External

The Cloud - Internal vs. External

May 10, 2010 - While traveling through Washington state several years ago I passed by one of Boeing's large hangars. The hangar occupied a space that covered multiple city blocks, all enclosed. The person that I was driving with let me know that the hangar was large enough that it had its own atmosphere, including clouds. This was my first exposure to the concept of internal versus external Clouds. This experience was before the first concept of Cloud computing was prevalent, and before VMware was on the tip of everyone's tongue; but enough about the weather.....

Internal and external cloud computing are points within the route of the virtualization lifecycle. Enterprises are taking the approach of building and leveraging internal clouds initially, then developing a phased strategy of leveraging additional external cloud resources beyond current Software as a Service implementations. Let's dig into key distinctions between internal and external clouds in this article.

The internal cloud is the process of taking your company's current virtualized infrastructure and providing a high level of automation to the environment that is tied to internal business rules. Many of our clients, that have multiple internal organizations to deliver IT services to, continue evolving the ways they deliver those IT services. To deploy new servers as requested by business units, IT began to offer the computing equivalent of paper or plastic, but that choice was virtual or physical. And eventually the business units realized that they could get all of the performance they needed for the application on a virtualized machine, and the ‘wow' factor really came when provisioning dropped from an average of 25+ days to the time that it took to complete the paperwork, authorizations, and then a manually provisioned virtual machine. The internal cloud is the furthering of this service delivery process, providing options to internal business partners to kick off the provisioning and then even having the authorization component as part of the automation process. The internal cloud increases agility for companies, yet it also creates some opportunities for improvement and it requires more comprehensive management tools and rules.

The External Cloud: Most businesses have already started to use this model, however, there is much more to come. First, where have we used it? Most likely in the SaaS model, Software as a Service. This is the model that allows companies to rent software and have it delivered securely over the web, integrated to your backend systems. The next phase helps customers reduce and eliminate more of their IT assets. This will come in the form of other X as a Services with the X standing for Infrastructure, Storage, Platform, Hardware, Desktops, etc. These models align with current CIO strategies of reducing IT capital, consolidation, and reducing IT operational costs so they can drive business innovation.