Private cloud reimagined as equal partner in multi-cloud world

A new generation of private cloud options, including Amazon Outposts, Microsoft Azure Stack and Google Anthos, is leading enterprises to rethink their cloud strategies.

hybrid cloud

Cloud-first has become the guiding principle for application modernization and migration. Cloud-native is the mantra for application development. And hot technologies like containers, microservices and serverless computing are all associated with the public cloud. So, where does that leave the private cloud?

Private cloud – typically an on-premises data center that enterprises are attempting to retrofit with virtualization, automation, self-service, capacity planning, and other features that come built into the public cloud – has definitely taken a back seat. For a time, many enterprises seemed to be migrating as many apps as possible to the public cloud and relegating the private cloud to hosting an ever-shrinking collection of legacy, highly customized, out-of-support, end-of-life apps. But as we enter the second decade of the cloud revolution, a new vision has emerged in which private clouds become an equal partner in an integrated, multi-cloud world of private, public, and edge clouds. Gartner is calling this the distributed cloud, and Michael Warrilow, research vice president for infrastructure software, predicts that "it has a great potential for success."

Warrilow in 2018 framed the issue facing traditional private clouds, which didn't have the infrastructure to match hyperscale public cloud. "Infrastructure and Operations leaders must resist the temptation to mimic a style of computing that they are ill-equipped to replicate," he wrote in a research report.

But if you can't beat them, join them. IT execs don't need to try to replicate public clouds on their own anymore, because public cloud vendors are now offering to deliver the best features of the public cloud right to the doorstep of on-premises or co-located private cloud environments. Amazon Outposts, Microsoft Azure Stack/Azure Arc, Google Anthos, and Oracle Cloud on Customer, all of which have been announced in the past year or so, have the potential to be game-changers.

The vision, according to Forrester analyst Chris Gardner, is for enterprises to run workloads on the appropriate platform, whether that's public cloud or on-premises, and to strive to provide private clouds with equivalent functionality to public clouds to the extent possible. No more second-class citizen.

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