The Enterprise Cloud Bell Curve

This set of questions comes up a lot in conversations with my customers, “What should my Enterprise Cloud look like? Should I stick with Private Cloud, should I go Hybrid Cloud or put everything into the Public Cloud? Which Public Cloud provider is the best?” It is a confusing time for enterprises developing their cloud strategies and my answer invariably is “it depends”, because every customer is a snow-flake with completely different business goals, business problems and constraints to be met.

Recently, I have started drawing a bell curve on the whiteboard to describe where I think most enterprises are heading (25th, 50th and 75th percentiles) and then calling out the corner cases (1st, 5th, 95th and 99th percentiles).

All of this is my opinion, and if you have any feedback on where you think I have gaps or the content could be improved, please leave a comment below.

And yes, for those statistics majors out there, I am using a normal distribution curve in the graphic below, not a bell curve; that was all my Visio library contained.

The Enterprise Cloud Bell Curve

The 1st Percentile

Manually Operated: There will be enterprises who have no interest in automation, orchestration or cloud services and will be quite happy to continue manually operating their on-site infrastructure. And they will be satisfied to continue using legacy 3-tier infrastructure.

The 5th to 25th Percentile

Private Cloud: this is where enterprises will have their own HCI infrastructure and will make significant investments in building self-service catalogs for IaaS, PaaS, DRaaS, etc. Obviously owning, engineering and operating your own cloud services can be very complicated and Day-2 operations for production services require a high-level of skill, but done correctly, you can reap massive rewards. I think the 25th percentile will be largely IaaS and the 5th percentile have more advanced PaaS and XaaS services, since they are so difficult to implement correctly on-site.

For example, I have Dell-EMC VxRack with VMware vRealize Suite that is integrated via API to my ServiceNOW instance to host the self-service catalog (IaaS and PaaS with a DRaaS option in the request form).

The 50th Percentile

Hybrid Cloud: this is where I see most enterprises heading, on-site HCI infrastructure with hybrid cloud services; this will range from simple DRaaS and SaaS services to more sophisticated PaaS.

For example, I am a medium-sized enterprise running Nutanix HCI with AHV and Calm and I am subscribed to Nutanix Xi DRaaS Cloud services hosted with GCP.

The 75th Percentile

Multi-Hybrid Cloud is the term I use for a Private Cloud integrated with multiple Public Clouds. This will be quite popular for companies that want to pick and choose the cloud services they want to consume and recognise that different providers will have the best-of-breed in PaaS and SaaS services.

For example, all of my IaaS services are on-site with HCI and I consume PaaS services from Azure, AWS and GCP and SaaS services from Salesforce and Oracle.

The 95th Percentile

Cross-Public Cloud is the term I use for a company that lives in the Public Cloud, but consumes cloud services from more than one service provider. They will likely start out as Hybrid Cloud or Mono-Public Cloud and then make the decision to migrate and start consuming services from more than one provider.

For example, I consume AWS native services, I migrate my on-site workloads completely to VMC on AWS and also consume PaaS and SaaS services from AWS, Azure and Oracle.

The 99th Percentile

Mono-Public Cloud: there will be some companies that were born in the cloud and made the strategic decision to stick with one provider and will continue to leverage and operate within the boundaries of that provider’s technology stack.

For example, I have been with GCP from day one and all of my XaaS services are within the boundaries of GCP; anything that GCP cannot provide as PaaS or SaaS, I will build myself on GCP IaaS or Containers.

In Summary

Obviously each one of these cloud architectures has different Pros/Cons and depending upon the business requirements and constraints of the customer, only a few will be the best fit. However, that is our job as architects, to make sure we guide our customers to the right solution with the minimum of risk.

For me, the exciting areas are Hybrid Cloud, Multi-Hybrid Cloud and Cross-Public Cloud where customers will need “cloud-glue” to bind these disparate technologies together with a unified policy engine for configuration, operations, governance and compliance. This is where VMware and Nutanix are developing some very interesting services at the moment.

Published by


Chief Enterprise Architect and Strategist, 4xVCDX#133, NPX#8, DECM-EA.

One thought on “The Enterprise Cloud Bell Curve”

Comments are closed.