The case for public-first cloud computing

Although many companies start with private clouds, public clouds may be the best way to start your cloud computing journey

I've previously talked about the move to private cloud computing as corporate America's first-generation cloud attempt. After all, you control it completely, you don't have to worry about security, and you can laugh at all those cloud outages.

However, private clouds are very much like traditional computing: You have to purchase your own hardware and software, configure all elements, and pay employees to watch over it as they would a data center or any other IT infrastructure. Thus, the core benefit of cloud computing -- shared resources -- can be lost when creating and maintaining a private cloud.

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Considering the relative costs and benefits of a private cloud, many enterprises start with public clouds instead. The reasons are obvious: You can be up and running in a short amount of time, you pay for only the resources you consume, and you don't have to push yet another server into the data center. Good initial uses of the public cloud include prototyping noncritical applications on a PaaS cloud or providing simple storage via IaaS.

A significant benefit is that you get real cloud computing experience, not more data center exercises under a new name. From there, you can take the lessons learned to get better usage of more public clouds, to deploy a private cloud that leverages cloud principles, and/or to take strong advantage of a mix of public and private clouds (a hybrid cloud).

Ironically, starting with the public cloud removes much of the risk of moving to the cloud; you're not making the large capital and labor investments and nervously awaiting the expected benefit. The costs of using the public cloud are low, and the payoff (especially the learning aspect) is high.

Of course, many Global 2000 enterprises are still wary about using public clouds. Negative perceptions regarding cloud security, performance, and reliability can be daunting obstacles, but those fears are quickly overcome when you take into account the real costs and the real value private clouds versus public clouds. The latter wins every time -- as long as you're willing to share.

This article, "The case for public-first cloud computing," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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