Internal Clouds – Marketing the Non-Existent

I was recently asked my opinion on what were the main considerations for Cloud Computing with specific emphasis on Internal Clouds. Eager to assist I quickly gave a rundown of issues which included SLAs, distinguishing charge rates, security etc, etc. Pleased with the response received our conversation then veered off into another direction but then it struck me – I had just fallen victim to the marketing jargon. Internal Cloud? What on earth was he asking me and what on earth had I just answered with?

I thought back and reassessed my understanding of the Cloud to what I originally understood it as i.e. that the Cloud was beyond the realms of the datacenter and certainly not internal. Facts told me that Cloud storage services whether it be a backup or archive reside outside of the local datacenter and into the ‘clouds’ even to the extent of being in another continent.

So how then does the oxymoron of ‘internal cloud’ exist so much so that in depth conversations are taking place between consultants, IT managers and Storage Engineers at a datacenter near you? The answer is simple; marketing. Not content with pushing Cloud and SAAS as the future low end tiered storage, the term ‘internal clouds’ is now being marketed and ascribed to new and upcoming products which in essence are only offering added support for virtualization or clustering.

The metaphor of an ‘internal cloud’ i.e. a cloud which now exists within the datacenter leads to a rather ironic image of a misty atmosphere that causes even more confusion. Blow those ‘internal clouds’ away from your datacenter and what you’ll see are flexible solutions for scalability whether they are in the guise of global namespaces, clustering, grid storage or virtualization; solutions which were already known about and quite possibly already existed within your datacenter but were now coined as ‘internal clouds’. Hence once the haziness has disappeared it’s clear to see that the internal cloud that we’ve been marketed with never really existed in the first place.

So should I be asked my opinion on internal clouds again, let’s just say that this time my answer will require no words but a straightforward raise of the eyebrow and a protruding of the chin.