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The Future of On-Prem in a Cloud World

Joe McKendrick at ZDNet posted an interview with Michael Howard, CEO of MariaDB, and Monty Widenius, the creator of MySQL. The conversation began by talking about if open source solutions are a disruptive force in the enterprise. It’s a discussion that seems to have been hashed out many times over the last decade, and while it’s certainly interesting to get the perspective of people with an impressive pedigree, their answers aren’t all that groundbreaking.

Where the interview gets interesting is in the discussion of the cloud, and where Michael and Monty see the data center going in the future. Both are much more bullish on the private cloud, despite the massive profits being pulled in by Amazon and its competition. But more interesting is the discussion that the cloud actually serves as a check and balance for on-prem solutions.

Perhaps the most interesting statement is that they believe on-prem solutions as they exist today already offer superior performance and price compared to Amazon, it’s simply a failure of marketing that keeps it from being more prevalent. Sure it depends ultimately on the organization’s needs, but it’s a fascinating way to frame it.

I think as the public cloud moves from being the emergent hotness to a settled fact of enterprise life (if it isn’t already there), there will almost certainly be a reaction against the ongoing cost structure on-demand cloud computing puts on an organization. Because right now, starting with minimal CapEx is a major incentive for the cloud, as is ease of provisioning. But as operational costs add up, more and more organization will take a harder look at perhaps sinking investments back into capital in the long run.

I think private clouds have a few hurdles before they become as de facto a choice as something like AWS. But I’ve seen enough OpenStack automation and self-healing solutions to know that it’s only a matter of time before some sort of private cloud becomes much more tempting.

This plays into a larger discussion on the impact of the cloud on all of enterprise IT. Dave Hitz recently gave a talk about how “cloudification” has shaped the industry, and NetApp’s response to it, in much the same vein. As he said there, cloud vs on-prem isn’t a zero-sum game.

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.

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