Amazon, the online book store that now runs almost 1% of the Internet (according to wired.com) has for years adamantly protested that the only cloud that counts is the public cloud: cloud computing services hosted at public companies like Amazon and delivered over the public Internet. As the 800 pound gorilla in this ground-breaking business, Amazon exercised their bully pulpit to spread their “one public cloud” gospel that clashed with many of the leading incumbents.
The traditional IT services companies often spoke of delivering the benefits of the public cloud to major users through dedicated in-house clouds, which would be a natural evolution of their historic business of offering private IT infrastructures.
It seems that Amazon now likes “community clouds”, after Amazon won a major contract from the CIA to deliver cloud computing services from a cloud hosted inside the CIA’s data centres (sorry, in the US they are called “data centers”).
The difference between “community” cloud and a “private” cloud is mostly semantic.
A “private” cloud can be defined as a cloud that is run on behalf of an organization with enough users to justify the cost of deploying the cloud so that it generates the flexibility, efficiency and savings of a pubic cloud.
A “community” cloud can be defined as a cloud that is run on behalf of a group of organizations with enough users to justify the cost of deploying the cloud so that it generates the flexibility, efficiency and savings of a pubic cloud.
Did you catch that difference?
A lot of the discussion around gov-clouds revolves around the fact that a government is actually a group of individual organizations with common characteristics, who report to a common stakeholder (we, the people) and who hopefully can work together. A gov-cloud can provide the special features, the accessibility, and the security that a government would demand.
All governments, especially in this day and age, are demanding such high levels of security that a public government cloud is simply a non-starter. You might be able to justify a hybrid cloud where some data can reside on the public cloud and some resides on a secure private cloud, but that is easier said than done.
The fact of the matter is that governments, once they move into the new IT millennium and embrace the cloud, will deploy private clouds that they can control and trust. Each government, especially after the sensational revelations about PRISM and other programs, will not trust any cloud that supports other users, even other governments.
There are a lot of other organizations, like Fortune 500 companies, that have similar scale and security concerns. All these organizations will deploy private clouds, so private clouds will continue to play a major role in cloud computing.
This is the objective reality, and the market better accept it.
There is no single answer in cloud computing, and we will all be the better for that.
Wally Kowal is the founder and president of Canadian Cloud Computing