After midnight last night I was just quietly working away on one monitor (turned vertical – some habits sure die hard, and I picked that one up way back in Xerox Altos days in graduate school). At any rate I had twitter quietly going just outside my field of view – you know, where you can sort of pickup a rhythm from the edges of your peripheral vision – when all of sudden there was a big spike in tweet traffic.
Well that broke me out of my focused alter-world, so I went ahead and scrolled back through the timeline to figure out what might have happened to cause this late night excitement. Sure enough, it was Werner Vogel’s post announcing Amazon Virtual Private Cloud.
As I flipped through his post, followed by Jeff Barr’s post with a few more details, then the spike made sense – Amazon was causing some commotion by using the “P word”.
A Few Observations
The “P word” – private – is one that is near and dear to hearts of enterprise executives everywhere. Sure they want the scale, elasticity, and cost reductions that seem to accompany every discussion of cloud, BUT …
Every executive has their own fears that haunt them, fears of data loss, service outages, news of which spreads from website to blog to twitter to facebook before they even have heard what happenned, then if all heck breaks loose ending up as an unwelcome front page storie in the WSJ (complete with those sort of hand-drawn sketches of the suddenly well know).
No amount of therapy can remove those fears.
Of course, there are the necessary exceptions of the startups who first need to succeed so that they can have something to protect! But beyond startup phase, enterprises everywhere need assurance that their operations are safe in the cloud.
Hence, the move towards private clouds of all kinds, and in this announcement a particular flavor of virtual private cloud.
In any case here are a few initial day-of thoughts:
- This is a beta of a basic service. Look at what is provided – raw VMs, accessible across a VPN, with billing a bit more. That’s great, useful, and fine so far as it goes, but …
- Enterprises will demand much more. As my colleague Sam Charrington points out in a very interesting post, Amazon has not addressed many of the issues – such as security, control, and compliance – that will be absolutely essential for so many enterprise deployments. Imagine deploying a public company’s core finacial systems across the service as it stands today, and well you know how that’d go.
- Private clouds are here to stay. The simple truth is that Amazon, a leader in public clouds, has seen the opportunity (some would say were driven to, but that’s neither here nor there) that is the essence of private clouds – that is, some enterprises need / desire / demand some level of “privateness” in their clouds. Yes I know that Werner makes his normal argument that an enterprise can’t do private clouds, but he does so by equating private clouds with virtualization. Well that’s why a real private cloud strategy just doesn’t, in fact cannot rely solely on virtualization, but …
- Private clouds absolutely need a capable cloud application platform. Along with some operational practices (a post for another day) the reality is that most of the benefits normally associated with a cloud – elasticity, scalability, lower costs, and so on – are actually enabled by the cloud application platform.
This was a great announcement for dialing up the energy levels in the industry-wide arguments over what sort of clouds are needed by the enterprise. More than that, this certainly extends EC2 in some great ways, so that now it can be a contender for an expanded role in an enterprise’s hybrid cloud strategy.
That so much of that conversation has been done in the abstract – with only the hope of an enterprise customer – leads to some peculiar conclusions by some, ideas that will never go over with a real enterprise – but that whole topic is certainly a post for another day.
In the meantime, let’s look at the bottom line on this announcement - this is a very good day for all those who have been busy building the world in which any enterprise can choose from the mix of clouds that best suit them, and do what they want to have done, when they want it done, cheaper and more reliably that it’s been done before.
Even more importantly is the true bottom line- this is a very good day for enterprises who are driving to gain more control over their technology operations, see the promise of cloud computing, and know that whatever is used needs to meet their enterprise-grade needs.
Their needs are being heard, and more importantly being acted upon.
And that is a very good thing.