By Todd R. Weiss
Cloud computing for businesses is still in the midst of growing and adapting to the needs of businesses of every size. That means that innovation continues in the field and some ideas will be great, while others will not survive.
I recently read about a new idea where government agencies would share something called "regional community cloud hubs" in an effort to cut IT costs. The story last week in Government Technology magazine online immediately got me thinking – could something like that eventually work for small- and mid-sized businesses that might not have the financial or skilled labor resources to really take advantage of the possibilities of the cloud on their own?
Image credit: Hewlett-Packard Co.
I bet it can, and if it works for government agencies as described in the story, I imagine that it will in the future.
The concept, according to the story, is for "one government agency — most likely at the state level — that could serve as a host facility and offer cloud-computing services to other government agencies (most likely local governments), which can then be shared."
The idea was touted in a report, "Best Practices: Regional Community Cloud Hubs — The New “Trickle Down” Effect That’s Boosting State and Local Computing," which was released by IDC Government Insights, the story states. "The host facility could then gain revenue by selling the cloud services to other government agencies, which in turn would help the host facility gain revenue to offset their own IT costs, according to the report."
The whole premise is sort of like a cloud computing cooperative for government agencies.
"'They're dipping their toe in the water saying, this is the way we want to start offering these things,'" he told the magazine. "'The smaller governments seem interested because it allows them to get out of the infrastructure business, which can be very capital intensive and very maintenance intensive, so where we are is a toe over the starting line.'"
That sounds like something that could be useful for small- to medium-businesses to explore as well, I'd argue.
Sure, there are many more questions than answers at this point on how to do such a thing.
But as I brainstorm, a few initial ideas pop into my head.
What about setting up trial programs for community regional cloud hubs through local Chambers of Commerce for local businesses? Such organizations already offer similar programs for bringing together local businesses to give them bigger buying and negotiating power to add services and business benefits. It could be a natural fit that would benefit everyone, even the Chambers.
How about setting up community cloud hubs by business segment, such as insurance companies, retail stores, auto dealerships, restaurants, etc., so that the regional clouds can be custom-configured for different business needs? It would be like local public clouds where by joining together, costs could potentially be lowered. And strict security controls and encryption would obviously be used to keep businesses from being able to see the data of others.
Regional clouds could even be created for local geographies, such as the Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton areas of Pennsylvania or the Silicon Valley in California or the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa.
This is the beauty of cloud computing and other ideas in business IT. Innovation happens and we can learn from others.
What do you think about this? Could a regional community cloud hub make sense in your company's future? I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist and freelance writer who worked as a staff reporter for Computerworld.com from 2000 to 2008. Weiss covers enterprise IT from cloud computing to Hadoop to virtualization, enterprise applications such as ERP, CRM and BI, Linux and open source, and more. He spends his spare time working on a book about an unheralded member of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and watching classic Humphrey Bogart movies. You can follow him on Twitter @TechManTalking. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org