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Cloud Expo Public Cloud Private Cloud Hybrid Cloud And More

From the 7th International Cloud Computing Expo in Santa Clara, CA.

It's funny to think how a whole industry (and conference) has been built around cloud computing and the impact to IT operations management today. It's all cloud, all the time. Disruptive technology keeps moving innovation forward - which is a good thing.

The first session I attended was Unisys' Al Bender discussing public vs. private cloud. I think most companies will be adopting private (or, even hybrid) cloud strategies much faster than public cloud solutions - simply because it allows them more control and security from the start.

According to Al, cloud computing boils down to this:

MYTH: Cloud computing is about the technology.

TRUTH: Cloud computing is about the business.

Business should be agile - with extreme automation, self-service capability and ready-to-go infrastructure. It's all about the business.

We all know the key attributes of cloud computing: multi-tenancy, elastic and scalable, metered, self-provisioning, internet based, and I/P/SaaS. But there is one more attribute for secure cloud computing. Security. An overall decrease in risk due to greater security protocols and tools from the cloud provider for data in motion, data at rest and data in process.

Security is a number one problem and challenge for businesses, especially with public cloud.

What is driving IT to a new approach? Why is cloud booming? Look at the market forces at play, the economy, the need for businesses to be more economical. The idea of ubiquitous IT - anytime, anywhere IT which is accessible through cloud. We're seeing a tectonic shift in technology - the pace of change of applications coming online and the development of tools is much faster - being driven by consumers mostly. Think about how fast technology needs to move to keep up with the iPad, the iPod, the iPhone. It's a shift of the tools used to develop these applications. Some companies are even moving towards letting people use their own PCs at work. There is a trend towards the consumerization of IT. Not only that, but it's cool to be green. Businesses are looking at shared infrastructure not only to cut costs, but to show they are environmentally friendly. These fall into the category of business forces at work, in order to avoid costs, map supply and demand more effectively and de-capitalize IT. Automated operations is also key for businesses.

Those are some reasons why the market and business would want to move to the cloud. But what are the barriers? For public cloud, there are worries of security, compliance and application rewrites. For private cloud, existing investments, more labor intensive and a steep learning curve, and being skeptical about results.

From a business perspective, there are significant financial benefits of cloud that go beyond traditional capex. In a traditional data center, you have a lot of cash that needs to go up front - capex and opex. But with the cloud, you're looking at just opex. Payments are able to be made as services are provided, and financial risks are taken monthly then matched in return - as opposed to a high cost (risk) and uncertain return with a traditional data center.

Some analyst predictions from Gartner:

By 2010, 20% of businesses will own no IT assets

By 2010, at least 35% of U.S. midmarket businesses (100-199 employees) will purchase cloud-computing and IT utility services

By 2010, 40% of enterprises will adopt a blend of cloud and premises-based approaches to meet their needs

By 2010, global 1000 IT organizations will spend more money building private-cloud computing services than on offerings from public cloud-computing service providers

Over the course of the next five years, enterprises will spend $112 billion cumulatively on SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS

Obviously that means we're seeing rapid growth of the percentage of users relying on the cloud.

So what types of clouds are out there?

Public cloud - scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities provided 'as a service'

Community cloud - targeted to a limited set of organizations or individuals with similar security, privacy and compliancy requirements

On premise private cloud - resides on the customer premise and customer has control/ownership of service, service access limited to the internal organization

Managed private cloud - may reside on the customer premise or on the providers premise, but is owned by customer and managed by a provider

Virtual (Hosted) private cloud - partitioned portion of a public cloud-computing service into an isolated, non-shared environment that is dedicated for use by a single entity or group of related entities (such as multiple departments within a company)

Private clouds appeal to businesses because they offer much of the same benefits as the public cloud but without the risks, since it lives inside a company's firewall and security infrastructure. More on that later...

But let's not forget about a hybrid cloud. Public clouds offer dynamic, efficient, on-demand, flexible, shared and rented. Private (or hosted) cloud are trusted, controlled, reliable, secure/flexible, not shared. Together they combine to give a single view.

Public cloud is not all good. There are many perceived issues and concerns. Security of data in motion and privacy of data at rest is a big worry for businesses. SLA's and availability issues cause stress, as well as compliance, loss of control and lack of interoperability. Not only that, but there are so many cloud providers popping up - how do you know if they are using end-to-end ITIL processes? If they're certified in service management or security? Lots to question which cause barriers to adopting public cloud for your business.