In or Out: The Best Place for the Cloud

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Private Versus Public Cloud Computing

A plethora of applications are being considered for the cloud, but it may take at least another year before cloud computing goes mainstream in the enterprise.

If recent surveys are any indication, decisions regarding the future of cloud infrastructure are coming in fast and furious at most enterprises.

Everyone wants the scalability and flexibility that cloud architectures have to offer, but detailing the most effective and efficient architecture is going to be a challenge.

A key question for many of you is whether to tap into the growing number of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings hitting the public cloud, or to leverage your internal hardware and software environments toward a private cloud. Or both.

So far, at least, a guiding principle is if you have infrastructure at your disposal, you might as well make the most of it. More than likely, even a moderately-sized enterprise will be able to create a reasonably useful cloud at less cost than most of the IaaS offerings out there. The not-so-hidden secret within the IaaS industry is that even top providers like Terremark and SunGuard are losing money as enterprise users continue to side with the relative security of the private cloud. That means pricing pressures will continue to weigh on the industry as the focus shifts from gathering market share to turning profits and could become critical if Verizon's $1.4 billion acquisition of Terremark kicks off a wave of IaaS acquisitions.

Of course, even if prices do rise, it will still be hard to beat the economics of IaaS if you don't have an expansive enterprise infrastructure at your disposal. SMBs in particular will find the cost of building, managing and maintaining internal infrastructure highly prohibitive in the cloud era. Already, according to research firm Techaisle, 37 percent of SMBs are using public IaaS and PaaS services, while 31 percent are tapping into Communication-as-a-Service (CaaS) offerings.

Large or small, however, one of the best ways to leverage IaaS is by adopting high-performance computing (HPC), according to Forrester's James Staten. Previously, the domain of large government and research organizations, HPC is uniquely suited to IaaS because service can be scaled up or down depending on your requirements. Be forewarned though: Not all HPC applications are ripe for the cloud. Those that require dedicated resources or do not yet push the limits of available resources might do better in-house.

Of course, the only sure-fire way to tell whether public or private resources are appropriate for any given circumstance is through practical experience. This is where larger organizations have the advantage as it is much easier to set up and dismantle cloud services that aren't working out than to undo physical infrastructure.

For SMBs on the fast track to becoming large enterprises, then, getting comfortable with IaaS might be a two-edged sword: At some point you will face the daunting prospect of building up a sizable enterprise infrastructure from scratch.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Feb 1, 2011 6:04 PM Rich Rich  says:

The concept of creating a private cloud is a very interesting and one I haven't come across before. All companies have security concerns associated with the public cloud. Very informative article.


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