Cloud Computing Benefits are obvious. Cloud computing companies can provide flexible, scalable infrastructure resources on demand, without the need for additional investment. This levels the playing field for mid and smaller companies, so they can be as dynamic as a Fortune 500 company. A recent Info-Tech survey suggests that three quarters of IT leaders are first considering a private cloud, with one third already set on a private cloud. Cloud computing leaders are currently debating whether public or private cloud will dominate the future.
Cloud security ultimately depends on how critical the data is, for a particular application. Access to any cloud service is essentially over a browser, with all the cloud computing security risks that implies. Mitigating cloud computing security risks depends on the end user, a fallible contact point, so consultants warn that access control and password/identity management is critical.
Because a Private cloud (in-house or outsourced) provided from behind the corporate firewall, Internet exposure is lessened and existing organizational security standards and measures can be maintained. For these reasons, a private cloud is likely to be the better option where data is particularly sensitive and requires extremely robust security or there are compliance needs. Private cloud computing companies can use virtualization to partition services specific to a particular client, further enhancing security.
Private cloud computing costs are more expensive because they the private cloud provides greater control, more features, and arguably more flexibility, but at a premium. Obviously private cloud can drive greater revenue to cloud computing software companies and value added resellers (VARs), however some cloud computing leaders predict public clouds will become more common. Will the market drive cloud computing providers to invest more into private cloud with consulting, hardware, upgrades, and licensing, or will the utility/commodity aspects of the public cloud force them away from private cloud?
There is however, another option, the hybrid cloud. Private clouds require infrastructure resources, while public clouds are more about business process. As it is, some cloud computing leaders suggest that it is a matter of IT leaders getting comfortable with and developing trust in the public cloud, before taking they take the full leap, especially for very large enterprises.
Some cloud computing consultants see the best opportunities in selling Hybrid cloud, after all, the private cloud allows them to large organizations to carry the hardware and software capital expenses of legacy resources, and commodity infrastructure can be outsourced over a public cloud for cost savings. While it would seem to offer the best of both paradigms, there are a lot of parts with many potential points of failure or holes for those with mal-intent, to exploit.
Whether public clouds will dominate the future, remains to be seen. Perhaps the use of private cloud is only a stepping stone as IT leaders develop their trust in cloud computing providers. With huge investments in legacy hardware and software most large enterprises accumulate, or in situations such as a medical environment where privacy and security must be particularly robust, some combination of public and private cloud may come to dominate. Only time will tell.