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Two questions about public and private clouds

Cloud computing has been on the market for more than 10 years, said Gartner analyst Donna Scott, but there’s no shortage of confusion out there about what’s available. She tried to dispel some of that confusion during a recent webinar for CIOs. Here are two questions people watching had about public and private clouds.

What types of data tend to be on public and private clouds?

There are a few types of data most companies don’t want in the public cloud, Scott said. One is intellectual property. The reason is simple: They don’t want to share it, like other critical pieces of IT operations.

“You don’t want to share networks. You don’t want to share storage. You don’t want to share compute,” Scott said.

Companies often put these data types, along with personally identifiable or regulated information, in private clouds — either on premises or in a colocation facility, where they rent the space but own the hardware.

There are public clouds, Scott said, that have private-cloud-like capabilities — so there’s less sharing, “but you have to look at it really closely and decide what you want to share and what you don’t want to share and make that evaluation.”

How should a company calculate total cost of ownership for public and private clouds?

“You need to look at the cost of delivering the service” both on premises and in the cloud, Scott said.

That way, companies can compare them and make a decision.

Take email as an example. If a company has an on-premises email application, it can determine what the costs are for each user — what the equipment costs, what licensing costs, what maintaining and keeping email running 24/7 costs.

“You’re basically adding up all the costs and dividing by the employees that use it, and that gives you per-user costs,” she said. “So if you’re going to consider going to public cloud then you can compare — and you want to try to compare apples to apples.”

To do this type of calculation and analysis, IT departments should get their finance offices involved — because most of them don’t have a good handle on what it costs to deliver IT services, Scott said.

Gartner analyst Donna Scott discusses roles necessary for cloud computing in this SearchCIO tip.