Cloud computing has developed to meet the needs of business, leading to three very different streams of on-demand IT: public, private, and hybrid.
And yet, within each of these areas exist still further subtle variations
Take, for example, the private cloud, which at its most basic level offers the benefits of scalability to a single organisation behind a firewall. Behind that general definition are three models that offer alternatives in the ways businesses can make the most of the cloud: on-premise, hosted, and virtual-private.
On-premise private clouds are owned and run by an organisation in its own data centre. Such an arrangement works well for businesses that have already spent heavily on server and storage hardware. Organisations looking to run their own private cloud also need to prioritise networking, redundancy, and security.
For firms that are prepared, on-premise offers a strong approach, particularly for those with stringent governance requirements. Exclusive IT leadership research of cloud priorities by ZDNet and TechRepublic suggests that 44 per cent of organisations already use an on-premise private cloud environment consistently or periodically. What is more, 57 per cent of businesses plan to increase their use of on-premise clouds within the next 12 months.
But not everyone wants the management hassle and maintenance cost associated with an in-house infrastructure. For this reason, hosted private clouds are also popular, where a service provider hosts information on a consistent management platform. ZDNet and TechRepublic research suggests 40 per cent of organisations already have private hosted arrangements in place. Almost half (49 per cent) expect to increase that commitment during the next 12 months.
The final area,, virtual-private cloud, is a midpoint between in-house and hosted private clouds. In a virtual-private model, service providers partition an element of their architecture to provide the benefits of the private cloud on public resources. Secure data transfer ensures information remains isolated from other customers, both in terms of movement from the enterprise and inside the provider's cloud network.
ZDNet and TechRepublic research suggests just a quarter of organisations are currently using more dynamic forms of cloud services such as the virtual-private model. But with almost half (49 per cent) expecting to increase that capability during the next 12 months, it is likely that the virtual-private cloud - which allows firms to scale resources up or down on-demand - is likely to become more popular.
Definitions of the cloud evolve as business requirements wax and wane. But the various flavours of private on-demand IT represent a crucial way for businesses to get a taste for the competitive advantages that this model offers.