As cloud computing continues to mature many organizations are starting to figure out that the sum of their clouds might be more valuable than the individual pieces. This realization is fueling a growing interest in community clouds that are now forecasted to be a $2.4 billion market by 2018.
Community clouds usually form when a group of companies figure out that sharing a common set of IT infrastructure not only reduces their costs but also make it simpler for them to share data and insights with one another.
The most common implementations of community clouds are usually in academic settings where the need to share research tends to trump any competitive issues members of the community cloud might have with one another. But there are also a number of community clouds starting to emerge in several other vertical industries. Usually anchored by a leading vendor in that particular space, those community clouds can be built on dedicated IT infrastructure or simply carved out of a public cloud computing service.
Advantages and challenges
From a technical perspective, a community cloud is really a hybrid private cloud. However, these community clouds are typically more complex to set up, maintain, and secure, so they generally represent a high margin opportunity for the IT services providers that have the skills to implement them. The killer application for a community cloud will most likely involve Big Data analytics, if for no other reason than that the more data there is the more accurate the projections become.
Naturally, the biggest issue is that many organizations simply are not aware that a community cloud is even an option. The community cloud report published by Markets and Markets Inc. makes it clear there are just as many political hurdles as there are technical ones to setting up a community cloud. For that reason it’s never been more critical for IT services providers to have relationships inside organizations that go well beyond the internal IT organization.
Why MSPs should embrace community clouds
Over time it’s becoming clearer that the rise of application programming interfaces (APIs) and Docker containers in the cloud is slowly but surely reducing the complexity of building hybrid clouds. As organizations become more sophisticated about how cloud computing can be employed, it’s only a matter of time before new use cases for IT start to come to the forefront. IT services providers shouldn’t wait for those ideas to magically manifest themselves. Instead they should become so well versed in a particular vertical industry that they can create the political capital required to entice multiple organizations to participate in a community cloud.
Of course, the line where a private cloud stops and a community cloud begins is likely to be fairly blurry. But if an organization is embarking on building a private cloud, the chances are good that it’s only a matter of time before that organization will want to tie that private cloud into something resembling a much larger community.