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SOA & WOA: Article

Public vs. Private Cloud Debate is Real

Power Panel at 4th International Cloud Computing Expo Discusses Zebras and Tigers

Zebras and tigers and bears, oh my!

Well, there were no bears on an invigorating Power Panel at the 4th International Cloud Computing Expo in Santa Clara Tuesday night, but the subject of the two striped animals mentioned above did come up.

Re-visiting a topic that re-appears during times of seismic change in the IT industry, panel moderator Jeremy Geelan, SVP of the event's producer SYS-CON Media, mused as to whether the private cloud was a zebra (based on a comment he heard from way high up in HP) and the public cloud a tiger, ie, you're discussion two completely different animals here that both happen to have stripes.

Panel members included Rob Walters from The Planet, Willie M. Tejada of Akamai, and three small-company CEOS--Terry Woloszyn of PerspecSys, Adam Blum of Rhomobile, and Greg O'Connor of AppZero.

Geelan's question went to the heart of the private vs. public cloud debate, centered around innate security concerns among IT about putting corporate data and functionality into someone else's hands.

O'Connor first noted that cloud computing "is a big category and big categories take time to be fully accepted by everyone." This is especially true with cloud computing, it seems, because so many companies have people who are bypassing IT in launching their cloud efforts.

As Tejada noted, "these days, app development can cut a whole system out of the picture, you can go out and test an app environment independent of the IT department." O'Connor seconded that notion, saying that "business users are now empowered to go out and get what they think is the best solutions, and not even involve IT."

Blum extended this discussion by referring to "the education issue" and noting that even though "it's a little tricky to explain this to (some) people...but we need to do some kind of mixed mode where data is behind the firewall and everything else is out in production."

The zebra in this analogy is the private cloud, where corporate IT departments feel safe controlling everything internally, and not risking exposure to the perceived tigers "out there" in the public cloud arena. But Tejada stated that in the end, large-scale IT initiatives always concern themselves with "access, security, and scalability. You always have to deal with those issues."

O'Connor took this thinking a step further, in his belief that the public cloud providers will be so focused on securing everything that "what an Amazon, for example, can do in five years will be far better than what most of the Public 5000 can do internally." He summed up his view by opining that "in five years, looking for a private cloud will be like looking for a unicorn; it won't exist."

Woloszyn threw some caution into this mix, however, by noting that "salesforce.com says regulatory compliance may impact revenues. So (government regulation) can adversely impact the public cloud." The thought here is that even if government is, as normal, behind, even hopelessly behind the industry, it's insistence on specific compliance and imposition of a heavyhanded regulatory environment will affect the growth of public clouds, whether the industry likes it or not.

Walters mused as to whether this means regulation can actually slow things down, whether we'll get development "in the same timeframe" or not, and Blum expressed a little industry frustration, saying "(when you ask) exactly what are the objections and what are the putative responses to those objections, companies can't articulate, they just say 'we want (our project) to be a private cloud.'"

In summary, the panelists agreed with the assertion that private vs public is a control issue, not necessarily a technology issue. Plus ça change...

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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