In my experience, the purpose of a private CPAN is to enable organizations to leverage the CPAN tool chain for managing the dependencies between their own modules and their third-party libraries (i.e. the public CPAN).
But the CPAN toolchain is actually really bad in managing dependencies. Sure, it allows the author to signal a dependency on another CPAN module, but it isn't very suited to do dependencies on non-CPAN modules. OS package systems (including those ported to a range of OSses, like RPM) and distributions systems like cfengine (which allows specifying dependencies based on the role of a box) far superior for that task that CPAN.
Nor does it preclude you from using a more general packaging system (like RPMs) to distribute your code. These are complimentary technologies that fit around a private CPAN.
Pray tell me, if I'm already using RPMs, what additional value does a private CPAN give me?
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