September 22, 2011, 8:00 AM — You may be weary of all the cloud computing hype, but behind the hype is considerable substance. Cloud technologies are complex, versatile, and revolutionizing the data center. Canonical's Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) revolutionizes setting up your own cloud infrastructure, bundling everything you need in a sleek integrated package for free.
Your own private cloud
The big appeal of the cloud, at least according to cloud vendors, is being freed from having to maintain your own data center, so why run your own cloud? For the same reasons any shop maintains its own IT department: for data protection and control of resources. Outsourcing to a cloud service vendor like Amazon's popular Amazon Web Services/Elastic Compute Cloud (AWS/EC2) is easy and relatively inexpensive. Customers purchase AWS just like a no-tell motel, creating and terminating services as needed and paying by the hour. But customers are at the mercy of the service provider. AWS is famous for multiple unexplained outages and less-than-stellar customer service, as are Google, Microsoft, and other cloud vendors. You should also give careful thought to entrusting your data to an outside service provider. This requires a level of trust that may not be warranted. Your data are open to government searches, both warranted and warrantless, and you may be collateral damage when one of your neighbors at your service provider gets in legal hot water.
Kevin Fogarty reports how IT managers regard public vs. private cloud computing:
"Those building private clouds are doing it to make their core IT operations more effective. They're paranoid about security and reliability because they can't afford failures in either ... Those using public clouds are just messing around, using an inexpensive resource to do things they might not do at all if it weren't available ... they're waiting to see how it works out for others first."