Exclusive cloud — sense a cloud environment constructed and used by a single company, in place of the communal framework obtainable in public clouds — may not be defunct, but it has forfeited much of its appeal. The majority of the enthusiasm in the cloud computing ecosystem today centers on public cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, not private cloud platforms such as OpenStack.
Nevertheless, there are reasons to foresee exclusive clouds to make a certain amount of a resurgence. That’s not to suggest that we’re likely to observe a colossal migration of workloads from public to private clouds; we won’t. However, I do believe certain developments will render private cloud infrastructure more appealing to more businesses than it has been in recent years.
Specifically, anticipate the following trends to spur increased interest in exclusive cloud.
1. AI Training Can Benefit from Exclusive Clouds
To deploy generative AI models, which have experienced a considerable surge in popularity, businesses need to train those models. And to conduct AI training efficiently, they need infrastructure that is customized for AI.
To be sure, it’s feasible to obtain AI-friendly infrastructure from public clouds, which offer solutions, like GPU-as-a-service, that cater to AI training needs. Using the public cloud for this purpose might make sense for organizations that need to perform one-off training.
However, for ongoing or repetitive training needs, exclusive clouds are likely to offer a better overall balance between cost and performance. AI-focused public cloud infrastructure tends to be costly, and if you need to use that type of infrastructure over the long term, it will probably be more economical to purchase the infrastructure outright and deploy it as part of an exclusive cloud.
Additionally, exclusive clouds provide more control over infrastructure configuration. That’s an advantage in situations where businesses want to use specific types of hardware for AI training that they can’t obtain from public cloud providers.
Last but not least, exclusive clouds offer some data privacy benefits in the context of AI training. With an exclusive cloud, you don’t have to upload potentially sensitive training data to a third-party infrastructure platform.
2. Exclusive Clouds May Save Money
Economically, the world of tech is enduring a challenging period. The prosperous years are over, and businesses that could once rely on inexpensive borrowing costs or seemingly limitless venture capital to finance their infrastructure needs now face harsher financial truths and increased pressure to save money.
Exclusive clouds can aid on this front by enabling lower total cost of ownership, at least when they are devised and used effectively. Public clouds may be appealing financially in the sense that they allow companies to pay only for the infrastructure they use, but in the long run, businesses with significant infrastructure needs are likely to find that an exclusive cloud provides a lower overall cost.
Overall, it’s worth noting that high interest rates may make it challenging for some companies to justify the expense of purchasing new servers to power an exclusive cloud. However, those that can bear the acquisition cost, or that already own sufficient infrastructure to run their own cloud, may opt to do so as a strategy for keeping infrastructure costs in check during turbulent economic times.
3. Simpler Exclusive Cloud Tools and Infrastructure Options
In previous times, operating an exclusive cloud necessitated creating and managing a complex platform like OpenStack. Even for a team experienced in exclusive cloud management, the process demanded much more effort than launching virtual infrastructure in a public cloud.
Additionally, running an exclusive cloud traditionally required purchasing on-premises servers and dealing with all of the complications that come with managing physical hardware.
However, presently, the learning curve for producing and managing exclusive clouds has become less daunting. Newer types of exclusive cloud tooling solutions, like Harvester, offer options for operating exclusive clouds that don’t necessitate as much expertise and effort as OpenStack.
Furthermore, bare-metal-as-a-service (BMaaS) solutions make it feasible to deploy exclusive clouds using infrastructure that someone else manages. With BMaaS, businesses don’t have to acquire dozens or hundreds of their own servers to run an exclusive cloud and ensure that their IT department has the capacity to manage them. Nor do they have to budget for the capital expense of purchasing the hardware. They can outsource all of the above to BMaaS providers.
In summary, the AI trend, combined with economic turbulence, has given businesses new reasons to contemplate investing in exclusive clouds. Meanwhile, creating and managing exclusive clouds have become considerably more straightforward.
These changes are unlikely to make 2024 the year of the exclusive cloud; public clouds will almost certainly continue to dominate. But 2024 may at least see an increase — perhaps even a resurgence — in exclusive cloud adoption, reversing a long-standing trend in the opposite direction.
About the authorChristopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with subject matter expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers and more. He also lectures at a major university in the Albany, New York, area. His book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press.