“The cloud is just someone else’s computer”

This is a phrase you often hear when it comes to cloud computing.
So in that case, what would be the point of having a Private Cloud on your own premises? Right, none.

But Private Clouds do exist and their market is constantly growing.

So let’s think about it again: If cloud is not about the location of the physical servers what is it instead that makes almost every company use cloud computing?

We came up with the following 3 factors that drive cloud consumption in large enterprises.

Cloud is about Automation

Nowadays, everything is about automation. And the first things that come to our mind when we hear automation are speed and cost savings. If I automate a process it should be faster than before. While this is true, there is more to it. Automating a process firstly means having a defined and reproducible process. As long as people execute a process and can act flexibly depending on the circumstances, there is no need to have a clearly defined process. Things work quite well, until these people are sick or quit.

Having a defined process on the other hand has a lot of advantages:

  1. Automation increases consistency. We can be sure, that every time the process runs it will be exactly the same. So, if we manage to setup a smart process, we also ensure a consistent level of quality. Coupling a defined process with version control helps, as it enables us to trace back changes at any time.
  2. Automation gives engineers the time to bring in their experience and skill, when building up processes, but does not waste their time on manual routine operations. This means they have time to work on building new products.

So back to cloud. What does automation mean in this context? Cloud computing enables us to automate deployments. This means we are able to rollout an entire distributed infrastructure including VMs, networks, etc. as a code (also known as Infrastructure-as-Code).

Cloud is about Scalability

The scalability of cloud environments goes back to a change in concept, which is also known as pet vs. cattle. Instead of running an application on what is called a “pet server”, a server that we have to take care of, that is persistent, we move to a different approach. In the cattle approach, instead of caring about individual servers, we define a common template for all server instances, which will then be used for all new instances that are created. In this setup an instance is stateless, data persistence is provided by additional persistent services. We scale up, buy adding further instances and down by removing instances.The cloud itself can be scaled easily by adding further hardware to the platform.

Cloud is about Cost Flexibility

People choose cloud because it is cheaper. But what often is misunderstood is that Public Clouds are not per se cheaper than Private Clouds. Public Clouds have a very flexible cost model, pay-per-use. For companies with varying resource requirements, this can be a great cost advantage as they do not have to pay for servers, energy and cooling of an underutilized data center. However, if you are running a constant load in the cloud, Private Clouds may be the cheaper option. For this reason large enterprises often go for a hybrid model that ensures high utilization for Private Clouds and enables them to scale-out to the Public cloud, whenever more resources are needed.

Something missing here? Right, the location. Well, it is not necessarily the location of the datacenter that makes it a cloud. It is the technology with its concepts that helps companies accelerate software development and enables them to bring new products to market faster.

Considering this, it can absolutely make sense to run applications in a private or hybrid cloud setup. And lots of companies do. Not only because of the cost, regulations or privacy concerns can be other factors influencing this decision. You see, there is a lot more to cloud technologies than the location of the datacenter.

In fact, this may even be the least important fact about it, as the existence and the growth of both public and private clouds proofs. More important is that cloud technologies provide: automation, scalability, and cost flexibility.

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