While survey after survey show that enterprises claim to prefer private cloud models, IT is struggling to deliver. Off the record many in the IT consulting and SI business will say the majority of private cloud pilots they’re seeing aren’t going well. In fact some believe that up to 90% of private cloud pilots in the enterprise will fail to move forward.
In most cases the reasons these pilots are failing has little to do with technology. This isn’t to say that things like installation and setup can’t be improved for OpenStack and other platforms – they can. But the major factors that are causing private cloud projects to sputter and die have more to do with other, non-technical factors. Here are four reasons:
- Success metrics – most private cloud pilots and proof-of-concepts are focused almost exclusively on technical validation. While the IT team proves to itself that it can deploy a private cloud, users and developers are measuring it against services already available in the market. Failing to demonstrate a better services value proposition isn’t compelling, and certainly won’t build internal momentum. And does the organization really need an existence proof that IaaS environments can be successfully deployed? Pilots need to include business success metrics as well as technical.
- Inertia – so why aren’t the metrics defined correctly? Because in many cases enterprise IT just sees cloud in a fundamentally different light. As noted in posts by James Staten at Forrester and Giri Fox at Rightscale, enterprise IT tends to see cloud as the next logical step in the evolution of infrastructure and virtualization. The focus is on demonstrating robustness, stability and change control, the enterprise IT comfort zone. The factors that business users really care about like usability and provisioning time are left to the wayside.
- Lack of vision – this inertia exists because CIOs are failing to answer the basic long-term question of where they’re best positioned to compete for business budget dollars, and whether it really makes sense for IT to be in the IaaS business. Without a well articulated ITaaS vision, it’s hard for business users and developers to get excited about internally provided services they believe they can get from Amazon, Rackspace, Google or Microsoft today. While the new default answer is that IT’s vision is to provide hybrid or “multi-cloud” environments, few can actually articulate what that means and why business users should care.
- Motivation and commitment – so what are we left with? In many cases private clouds seem like a good way for IT to come up the cloud learning curve while leveraging existing hardware and infrastructure. For others, part of the reason is to show that “we’re doing something with cloud”. Regardless, in some cases enterprise IT isn’t yet fully bought in to the paradigm shift being brought about by cloud, and seem to view private cloud projects more as science projects.
Net, net many CIOs still haven’t fully grasped the fact that their private cloud will basically be competing in the market against AWS and others. While security, compliance and performance factors will enable IT in some cases to maintain their internal “monopoly” through mandated use of private clouds, the clock will be ticking…
UPDATE: Several readers have objected to the statement that “some believe that up to 90% of private cloud pilots in the enterprise will fail to move forward.” These readers believe that because the statistic isn’t cited, then it must not be real. Please note that we did in fact have a conversation with an executive at a leading IT consulting services provider that stated exactly that figure. As the conversation was off the record, we cannot provide a direct citation. The observation was also consistent with other conversations we’ve had in the enterprise cloud market, and while the numbers they stated may not be 90%, they say the failure rate is still high. As enterprise IT project failure rates tend to be fairly high in general, it probably shouldn’t be shocking if it’s also high for a new technology platform.