Missing: “Private Clouds” at the MMS 2012 Hosted Cloud Pavilion

Last week at Microsoft Management Summit 2012, attendees were directed to the “Microsoft Hosted Cloud Pavilion” for information on secure, enterprise-ready private clouds built on Windows and System Center.

I spent some time talking to these hosting providers, expecting to hear about how they have System Center 2012 deployed and ready to integrate with App Controller for amazing Infrastructure-as-a-Service hybrid cloud nirvana.  Much to my surprise, none of these companies were talking about this at all.  One was promoting an OpenStack initiative and all of them were happy to rent dedicated physical servers to customers — running Windows, Linux, VMware ESXi, etc. — but mostly the focus was on pay-by-the-month virtual servers.

Even offering Windows VMs and System Center management doesn’t make a true private cloud.  While private clouds can be hosted externally, the one attribute that makes them private is dedicated infrastructure.  By and large, shared infrastructure means public cloud.

This is the very thing Gartner analyst Lydia Leong discussed recently:

Given the widespread use of NIST cloud definitions, and the reasonable expectation that customers have that a provider’s terminology for its offering will conform to those definitions, calling a multi-tenant offering “private cloud” is misleading at best.

Once again, Microsoft has demonstrated that it is perfectly comfortable playing fast and loose with facts when characterizing product offerings, leaving customers — and the media — to believe that System Center hybrid and hosted private clouds are a reality today when they really nothing more than marketing.  One might expect more substance from a company that has dumped tons of cash on advertising campaigns that accuse a competitor of merely “talkin’ cloud.”

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