Cloud are here to stay, but we're still confusing potential clients about just what they can buy and how to choose.
Today I got an email from a consultant asking if there was a recommendation he could make (in a seminar he's giving) for where to buy a highly secure cloud. His real question was are there vendors who do the whole job, so you aren't buying the compute part one place and the storage somewhere else.
There really are several questions loaded into this one query.
(1) Can you buy a highly secure cloud? Right now, I think the best way to do this is with a private cloud. I know the security issue on public clouds is getting better over time, but I don't think we can offer military-grade security (which my correspondent wanted) without selecting a private cloud.
(2) Are there vendors who do the whole thing? The answer is yes, but you would also want to know how much experience they have and with whom. IBM was the first major vendor to have solutions for large enterprises and governments who were looking for cloud solutions. It has hundreds of private clouds, many of them for governments, both in the US and abroad.
They also focus on doing the whole thing. They will take the customer from workshops and consulting to define the need and the best solution, through designing, implementing, and (if the customer wants this) managing the cloud.
IBM, of course, supplies infrastructure hardware and software, but the job will be done either by their services group or by a business partner who has cloud certification.
IBM is not the only major vendor to offer private cloud solutions. Both HP and Oracle are talking about their offerings. They just came to the party a bit later and I'm waiting to see more references so we can tell just how they're going about this and whether their customers are pleased.
Beyond that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of smaller firms offering cloud solutions. Typically, they focus on particular parts of cloud computing and are less likely to offer the beginning-to-end solution that my correspondent was looking for.
The Cloud Conundrum is no longer can I use a cloud as part of my computing offerings, but rather which kind of cloud should I use and which business solutions go where -- in the Data Center, in a private cloud, or in a public cloud. It's well worth looking for good answers to those questions before proceeding.