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Enterprises embracing private, not public, clouds

By Jennifer Kavur, Computerworld Canada
February 19, 2010 02:42 PM ET

Computerworld Canada - Eighty-three per cent of organizations gearing up for cloud computing are planning to start with private clouds, according to a recent survey from Platform Computing Corp. Forty-five per cent are already committed to the idea and in the process of deploying private cloud initiatives.

The survey, conducted by Platform Computing at the 2009 Supercomputing Conference (SC09) in Portland, Ore., is based on responses from 95 IT executives from the research, manufacturing, government and education industries.

While enterprises are experimenting with private cloud computing, the majority are not yet ready for hybrid solutions that tap into public clouds. According to the survey, 82 per cent of organizations "do not foresee any cloud-bursting initiatives" in the next year.

"A large segment of the market are looking at private first," said Nick Werstiuk, strategic planning director at Toronto-based Platform Computing. Werstiuk defines a private cloud as one kept within an organization's firewall, and cloud-bursting as reaching out for a temporal period to an external provider for extra capacity.

The survey also looked at the pros and cons of cloud computing as a whole. The top concerns about cloud computing, according to the IT executives surveyed, include security (49 per cent), complexity of management (31 per cent) and upfront costs (15 per cent).

Security is "primarily a public issue" and the complexity of managing the cloud "potentially a private issue," according to Werstiuk. Security issues do come into play in private cloud environments, but not to the same extent as moving data outside an enterprise firewall to a third party that may or may not exist a year from now, he said.

Platform Computing is targeting Platform ISF (its latest product set) towards solving the problems enterprises face with the complexity of managing their private cloud environment, he said. "The idea is to have a core cloud management product that gives customers the flexibility to build the cloud that meets their needs in a private environment," he said.

Survey respondents cited experimenting with cloud computing (40 per cent) and improving efficiency (33 per cent) as the top reasons for investing in a cloud solution. The top benefits IT executives hope to receive back include a larger resource pool (28 per cent) and a more flexible, agile infrastructure (26 per cent).

The majority of enterprises in Canada are also "first and foremost" interested in implementing private clouds over public clouds, according to Sebastien Ruest, vice-president of services and technology research at IDC Canada.

"Canada is extremely conservative when it comes to the public cloud" and "probably one of the most conservative countries in the world when it comes to the distinction between private and public," said Ruest.

But this hesitation isn't limited to the cloud computing space, he pointed out. "Canadian companies are not early adopters of any technology. When it comes to cloud computing, it's even more nebulous to them," he said.

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