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Taneja Blog / Cloud

Before Taking Off For the Cloud, Check Your Virtual Engines

In March, McKinsey published a discussion document, Clearing the Air on Cloud Computing, and I’ve had several colleagues and clients mention its controversial nature. In my view, the only finding that can be considered controversial is the claim that current cloud services offerings aren’t cost competitive for larger enterprises – in other words, large data center total cost of server ownership is actually less than most EC2 pricing options, for example. I can’t argue the numbers, but the cart might be getting in front of the horse.

The more salient topic covered, one I find decidedly non-controversial, is that TCO discussions are mostly premature for any but the smallest of IT shops. The first question should be: “How virtualized are you, and how’s that going?” If the enterprise has only seen modest gains in utilization, or is having trouble sharing servers among business units, or is running into tricky new performance problems with virtual servers, it doesn’t help much to let them know they do, in fact, already have an ‘internal cloud’. This type of retroactive rebranding is all the rage, but I’d encourage vendors to step back a bit.

There’s a large and growing demand in virtualized enterprises to leverage, optimize, and control the virtual estate. Virtualization's capital cost savings - consolidation and utilization - are by now well-proven. The operating cost savings? We’ve only scratched the surface. Until enterprise operations teams have greater confidence in the run-time performance of a fully virtualized environment, they won’t be ready for even a partial lift-out. Smart vendors will focus on the tricky contention and performance issues keeping virtualization teams up at night. And those are the vendors that will be trusted to help deploy into private and public clouds when the time comes.


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