The Battle Over Public and Private Clouds Cloud Computing

Boy drawing water from a well

Boy drawing water from a well

“Ever since offshoring got hot in the 90s, large companies have been moving toward a model of IT in which the IT services appear to come from a single IT department but are actually an integrated mix of cloud, virtualization and networking services, often provided by external companies,” says Chris Wolf, analyst at The Burton Group.3

Supposedly, the big battle today is the conflict between public and private clouds. The issue has produced more heat than light. Consider these well-known facts:

  • In olden times (and in some places, even today), if you wanted water, you dug a well and then drew water. Tap water and indoor plumbing only became available in the late 19th century, and became common only in the mid-20th.
  • Before the 20th century, if you wanted clothes, you needed to have them made to measure (“bespoke tailoring” in the British argot). Ready-to-wear clothing, prior to the Civil War, was mostly for outerwear and undergarments. It took the Civil War to give the impetus to building factories that could quickly and efficiently meet the growing clothing demands of the military.
  • Electricity use began with on-site generators. In 1895 at Niagara Falls, George Westinghouse opened the first major power plant using alternating current, making it possible to serve many customers and to transport electricity over considerable distances.

In each case, what was once local, time-consuming, and expensive became available to all, in quantity, and inexpensively, perhaps with some sacrifice in customizability.

So it has been with data centers. Until the microcomputer revolution, all data centers were “bespoke”— that is, made to measure and custom designed. The concept of centrally managed data centers (empires) was justified by the need for control, standardization, and security.

A typical data center.

A typical data center.

There has always been tension between users, who craved freedom and competitive advantage through agility, innovation, and their own data silos, and the command and control mentality of centralized administration.

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