While the private cloud is growing fast today, concerns about data sovereignty make hybrid cloud solutions attractive to many companies.
While consumers mostly operate in the public cloud, with services such as Dropbox and Gmail, companies are increasingly relocating to private cloud, which combines the benefits of cloud computing with autonomy and above all data sovereignty.
The private cloud is one of the biggest growth areas in the cloud segment -- at least, according to market researcher Gartner in its "Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing 2012." Some 75 percent of respondents said they intend to have at least drawn up a strategy in this area by 2014.
When worlds collide: Cloud computing in the USA and EuropeAnd now the German government also wants to access cloud data. The Federal Criminal Police Office, the Federal Police, and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution are currently developing proposals at various levels to be able to access data on cloud services easier and faster. This emerged from a response to an enquiry raised by the Social Democrats.
But the US and Europe have different attitudes toward the cloud. In Germany, the cloud is still rated by many companies as unsafe. In particular, midsized enterprises are hesitant about placing data in the public cloud. These concerns are driven, in part, by a statement made in mid–2011 by Gordon Frazer, managing director at Microsoft UK. When asked by the UK IT industry news service ZDNet whether Microsoft could guarantee that European data stored in datacenters was protected against the USA Patriot Act, Frazer stated that neither Microsoft nor any other company could issue such a pledge.
In the US, companies and users are more relaxed about possible access by the state. "The USA is by its very nature a little more laid-back about this issue," explained cloud computing and technology analyst René Büst. "In the future we'll see a mix of public and private clouds which are connected by means of a hybrid cloud. It's especially important to first consider the classification of data and then decide which belongs in the public cloud and which ought to be kept in a private one."
The future belongs to hybrid IT
Why the US thinks one step ahead is above all due to the providers themselves. Almost all the big ones have their headquarters in the United States. And a key indicator is that all the major players, such as Amazon and Microsoft, are currently expanding their portfolios massively with private cloud solutions. Microsoft is playing an especially prominent role with its Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012. In addition, more flexible solutions will soon be available in which datacenters and hardware are shared with others. As the analysts at Gartner say, it's conceivable that such resources will be used jointly but isolated by means of virtual private networks.
In the near future, we'll only be talking about hybrid IT. The private cloud will serve as a bridging technology in order to integrate different types of clouds more smoothly. In practice, just a few clicks will decide whether services come from a private, public, or hybrid cloud. For providers, it's just a question of security -- and for companies, a question of data sovereignty.
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— Charlotte Erdmann comments on a wide range of technologies from her base in Berlin. In addition to blogging, she is a media and communication consultant, organizing and managing large customer magazines and marketing activities within the IT industry.