In my consulting and teaching activities related to Cloud Computing, private clouds are one of the most popular topics I am asked about. Recently, when visiting a client that has a large IT infrastructure (greater than 100K devices), in a business that is highly regulated, they were extremely keen to find better ways of working with this large infrastructure. I met with both business and technical personnel and both groups expressed a high level of dissatisfaction with the current traditional approach to managing IT. They were aware that Cloud Computing potentially offers them a solution that could significantly improve both the business and technical aspects of managing their IT, but were unclear on how – hence my visit.
Given their highly regulated environment, my client had discounted using a public cloud provider such as Amazon or Microsoft, but was willing to consider a private cloud deployment. This was interesting as they had no knowledge or experience of working with private clouds but thought they would be more secure. Once we began examining their requirements in more detail, it quickly became clear that some of their IT needs could be met by using a public cloud provider such as Amazon. The reason I use Amazon as an example is because they publish their security policies and accreditations in a very clear way. What also became evident as our analysis progressed is that some of this organisations IT had to remain on premise under their control. To more efficiently manage the on-premise infrastructure a private cloud is definitely a suitable solution. As a total solution, a hybrid cloud, with highly sensitive resources secured on a private cloud that is linked to a public cloud for less sensitive resources – albeit still in a secure environment is the safest, cost effective way forward.
As Cloud Computing becomes established, it is my firm belief that hybrid clouds will become the norm as organisations manage on premise IT with private clouds and use public clouds for a variety of reasons, to augment the on-premise IT, including providing overspill capacity, to testing, training, research and development.