Looking back in the mirror we need to realise that cloud systems have been available for some years now. Not always adressed as cloud system.
In 2007 Sun had a system codenamed Honeycomb, an intriguing setup with several nodes sharing the data across the installation. What makes it an cloud solution and an private cloud, is the open interface to other applications. Customers could buy consultancy to integrate it into the Honeycomb API, or do it by them self. I was designed towards the public and health industry, especially for the Hospital sector, and all the scanning equipment they have. (Remember to read more)
Google on the other hand is both an public and a private cloud infrastructure. As a privat person using my Android phone, my tablet, and my laptop to share content to the world, the public cloud Google is offering is a bliss.
Uploading pictures to the cloud from Picasa is using the cloud. You have to trust the data in whatever form you have uploaded is available all the time. The example with Picasa is a design that fits most of us “normal” users. I can reach my pictures from all of my devices, no matter what operating system they have, or they are a laptop, a tablet or a phone.
When looking at the Gartner Hype Cycle, it is surprising how well Google fits onto most of the Hype. They are offering Saas, just experience Google Docs, Picasa, Calendar among other things. 10 years ago those would have been applications you had to buy from various vendors. Today the only thing you need, is a login to different vendors. Google is offering approx 8Gb of free storage today to all users. This is superseeded by Microsoft which are offering 25Gb through their Skydrive service. Not compared to Microsoft’s Live Mesh service, currently stated with 5GB of free storage for all your documents, files, pictures etc. Personally I’m using Skydrive as an offline backup for my pictures, I’m using Google for almost everything else. But both are cloud offerings, and public free offerings. The synchronization between my Android phone, my Android Tablet, and my Chrome or Firefox browser is stunning. All my contacts are exported from Microsoft Outlook to my Google account, and then they are sync’ed with my phones from just one place. This is public cloud service at is best, I can without doing anything see those pictures I have uploaded to my picasa-account. At the end it is a single login to all this.
So what about the private cloud ?
A private cloud could offer the same kind of service, but only to those few selected in the company offering the cloud service. It is also an offering to wider range of users, who might have bought the service from the private cloud, e.g. Saas. But from a security perspective the private cloud is a superior offering for the users. If you’re a large multinational corporation or have a need for secure applications, the cloud seems like a fit. But is this different from current install ? Yes and no !
In most private companies , and public for that matter, applications has always been served by specialized servers fulfilling the requirement for uptime, redundancy, etc. I do believe the difference lies in the setup in the background. On the sky in the cloud the applications are now not served by server 1 to 10, but by a framework of servers running the baseline os and integration to the applications via API.
From my perspective I do not see the business case on the private cloud. I have seen Dell offering free CPU cycles for a fraction of the cost of a physical server, and they also offered an API interface, just like Sun Microsystems did a few years ago when they still where Sun.
Today setups like Openstack from Dell is offered as the key to an successfull private cloud. Try take a look at this article written by Rob Hirschfeld. It outrules the baseline, including using Crowbar as the baremetal provisioner for a new and scaleable cloud.
The setup with crowbar is almost a cooking recipe, containing the Chef (server), and all the ingredients needed for an implementation. Together with Hadoop and RHEL you end up with a large bunch of different components that makes it all worth to try making a private cloud.