“Private cloud” wasn’t just the message of EMC World 2010, it was the slogan. The phrase was everywhere, from the airport to the taxis to the cycle rickshaws to the convention center walls. But end users seemed as confused as ever when talking to me, and EMC’s own show video proves the point: EMC’s customers are using virtualization and public cloud talking points, not the private cloud concepts EMC is pitching!
What is your cloud-computing strategy?
The first video asks for cloud strategy on Day 1 of the show.
- “Putting together a solution for existing customers … to provide them the opportunity to leverage all of the capacity on demand … for emergency projects … as well as the cost savings” – Ok, so this guy is presumably a service provider of some sort. And his cloud strategy is to offer existing capacity to existing customers in emergencies. I’m not all that excited by this prospect, but I’m sure they’ll appreciate “the cost savings.”
- “It’s still in development and it’s being defined by each of the different areas” – So he’s not really clear on that cloud thing, though he does get that storage, compute, and VM are different. I feel for you, brother, and hope you get answers at the show!
- “We are in stage 2 of cloud evolution where we are trying to virtualize the core and mission critical applications” – Sounds like his company is trying to get server virtualization done first before working too hard on cloud. That’s probably a good IT strategy, but not really a cloud computing strategy.
- “We’re talking about virtualization at my company” – This admitted “behind the curve” guy is also not too worried about cloud right now.
- “We are talking about sharing data, talking about legal things like privacy; we have to put it somewhere and the private cloud is for collaboration.” – I talked to this guy at the show and he’s super-smart. He understands the cloud concept, is working toward it, and is doing the right things to get there. But he didn’t really mention this in the video.
There aren’t a lot of strategies mentioned here. And it doesn’t seem like their strategies match up with EMC’s private cloud vision going into the show. Let’s see how that changes over the three days of the event.
What are the business opportunities that the cloud will create?
Day 2 attendees would have been relentlessly pounded by EMC’s private cloud messaging. So what are they saying now?
- “It allows us to virtualize and spread our services to different locations that we wouldn’t be able to provide the services to before.” – He starts with a private cloud pitch (equating cloud with virtualization) but then shifts to a location independence that’s not easily attainable with private cloud. If you can’t provide services to a location now, how does private cloud fix this? I can see accessing a public service over the Internet fixing this, but EMC’s big-iron infrastructure-centric vision of private cloud ain’t gonna help.
- “What we’ve done is moved about 95% virtualized, so we’ve moved a lot of our applications, mission-critical applications, into the virtualized world, so our cloud is going good.” – Great for you! Seriously, this guy has a virtualization dream and he’s totally satisfied with that as his cloud. Sounds like EMC has very little selling to do here and he’s not all that interested in any new cloud vision.
- “We have a private cloud. It’s great. It’s flexible. The business … needs to turn on a dime … so cloud computing is the way to go for us.” – Ok, so here again we have a company that already has a private cloud (presumably this is his synonym for server virtualization) and loves it. This is great, but it’s again hard to see what his cloud is and if it’s aligned with EMC’s vision.
- “Different companies will be able to share data among each other a lot faster and quicker, instead of flying it to each other; it saves time and money.” – This guy is talking about public cloud, clearly. I haven’t heard data sharing and interchange used as a selling point for private cloud. To the contrary, data security is the primary FUD of private cloud proponents.
- “We know we have components we need today but looking at the whole cloud it’s constantly changing so the industry will have to respond to the different niche markets within those clouds.” – These are not the words of someone who is sold on private cloud. He sounds like a skeptic, or perhaps a realist, who is sick of hearing half-baked cloud schemes and is politely asking for more business-aligned solutions. Amen, brother, I’m with you!
The gist from these folks, and those I talked to, is that cloud is just a new word for virtualization and “we’ve got that.” Have we moved on from the cloud meme yet? Or is this a sign of massive misunderstanding about what cloud really is and can be? Simply put, the EMC World attendees don’t see cloud as something they have to go out and buy right now. That’s probably not the message EMC wanted to send…
What did you learn?
Although the “what did you learn” video is much more on-message, it’s not clear that customers came out of EMC World with any actionable knowledge about private cloud. One attendee says, “cloud is not just vaporware anymore,” while another agrees, “we need to consolidate and think in terms of the cloud.” Yet most are still enthusing about storage features (“new Symmetrix features” and “VPLEX”) rather than the wholesale change to IT that the cloud represents. As the last guy says, “think about the future.” EMC itself ought to heed this advice!
What did I learn from these videos? That customers aren’t getting the message but are pretty good at learning the words. Most IT practitioners still don’t see the coming business/IT schism and don’t grasp that cloud is much bigger than virtualization. But they’re trying hard to figure it out. I hope they look farther than the singular vision they got from EMC World.
I’m not trying to lampoon EMC or these show attendees. Far from it! This stuff is hard to grasp, and many companies are sending conflicting messages (if not outright FUD). I’m trying to stay on top of the messaging and I find it difficult. Imagine how hard it is for your average business person!