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Public vs. Private Cloud Debate Goes On

While there are important differences between a public cloud and a private cloud computing environment, industry leaders say the pros and cons of each aren't as significant as the fact that both options are available for businesses and enterprises. At the recent CloudBeat 2011 conference in Redwood City, Calif., executives of various companies delivering cloud technology and services said any combination of public, private or hybrid clouds may be the right solution for any company based on its n

However, Pinkham made clear that a private cloud is not a false cloud. Just like a public cloud, a private cloud is an IT resource that is shared by multiple users; in a private cloud, that group of users is the various departments within one company plugging into the cloud. He said that businesses contemplating a private cloud should separate management of the IT assets--such as servers, storage and networking--from management of applications that run in that cloud.

"If you’re doing IT within your own data center, [your] job it is to turn that infrastructure into a service, and they should be relieved of all application responsibility. Other people within the organization should be in charge of managing applications," said Pinkham.

Yet another scenario is for companies to use a public cloud service for some commodity business tasks, such as customer relationship management, but a private cloud for more "sophisticated" purposes, said John Engates, CTO at Rackspace, a cloud hosting provider. He cited examples of financial services firms or other Fortune 100 companies using a private cloud for research and development projects.

Engates substituted the Starbucks analogy with an automotive analogy. "The public cloud is like a four-door sedan, but as you move out of the four-door sedan, you might need an SUV or a tractor trailer," he said.

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