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If you have started to dig beneath the surface level of Cloud Computing, you have certainly discovered that there are many "Clouds" to consider, and it is not one single Cloud that will be part of your future. Likely the hottest trend we are seeing right now in enterprises is the focus on Private Clouds. What is a Private Cloud, and where does it fit in your future?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) stepped forward with a definition of Clouds that is useful to consider. In their definition, four different Cloud deployments are specified:

  • Public Cloud. As the name implies, this type of Cloud offering is generally available across the Internet and serves a virtually unlimited number of customers with the same infrastructure. Popular public Cloud offerings, such as those from Amazon, Rackspace, Salesforce.com, Microsoft and Google compete to provide a wide variety of IT services and business applications.
  • Private Cloud. This type of Cloud is purposely built for a single organization, such as a financial institution or a government agency. Typically, the organization leverages technology for virtualizing operating systems and networks, and as a result may be able to collapse the number of servers and network devices or at least manage them in a more coherent fashion.
  • Community Cloud. This is a Cloud that is built for a discrete and well defined number of organizations. A supply chain or combination of several government agencies are good use cases to have in mind for this type of Cloud.
  • Hybrid Cloud. This defines a combination of multiple of the above Cloud deployments, which are integrated in some way to achieve communications in support of some business initiative. A user may need to access multiple Clouds with a single set of credentials, data may need to flow between Clouds, or a Private Cloud application may need to temporarily use Public Cloud resources (known as "Cloud bursting").

For many enterprises building their Cloud Computing strategy, the focus has been restricted to the comparison between Public and Private Clouds. This is a fair starting point; large organizations have over time built relatively sophisticated IT architectures, systems and processes. This "internal" network provides context for considering a Private Cloud, while notions of outsourcing provide context for migrating systems into a Public Cloud. When comparing Public and Private Clouds today, organizations are typically considering the following factors:

  • Cost. Which type of Cloud is cheaper now and over time?
  • Security. How does the security of a Public Cloud compare to what I can accomplish internally, and what are the risks to my organization?
  • Compliance. Am I able to demonstrate compliance to necessary regulations if I use a Public Cloud?
  • Governance. What sort of visibility do I have into both the technology and the business practices of a Public Cloud provider, and do I have tools to manage the Cloud provider?


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