And while many still quibble as to whether an internal services-based infrastructure can even be called a cloud, the fact remains that even moderately-sized organizations are hell bent on duplicating the same kind of flexibility within their own legacy environments.
The funny thing is, while initial expectations held that organizations would develop private clouds as a means to test the waters before venturing onto public services, it seems that in reality the exact opposite is true. As Charles Babcock of InformationWeek found out from several large organizations, the easy availability of the public cloud makes it more apt to serve as the test bed. Once a sufficient level of cloud knowledge is acquired, the real goal in many cases is to utilize private resources for sensitive or even mission-critical data.
However, good intentions alone won't make your private cloud venture a success, according to Forrester's James Staten. There are a number of key building blocks that, sadly, are missing in many cloud development programs. Among them are advanced automation and self-service portals, both of which provide the very flexibility that causes many business units to tap into external cloud resources. Far from instigating a loss of control, these will help to ensure that the experience that workers already get from the cloud can be maintained.
It also helps to know exactly what you hope to achieve with your private cloud, says The Hosting News. If your dream is of unlimited scalability, it falls to you to maintain and expand the infrastructure as needs dictate. But if you plan on maintaining backup and archives in the cloud indefinitely, it's probably better to leverage in-house resources that you control.
Then again, it is very possible that enterprises can have their cake and eat it too. Companies like Rackspace, and just recently GoGrid, have been toying with "hosted private clouds" for some time. The idea is to provide external, dedicated resources that clients can place behind their own firewalls. In that way, you get the tremendous scalability of an external cloud with no greater security risk than a standard regional or off-site data center.
One way or another, most enterprises will cobble together some form of cloud environment, either public, private or hybrid. But the real trick won't be in building these architectures. It will be trying to get them to talk to each other. Because the only way to reap the benefits of the cloud is through the seamless hand-off of data from one system to another.