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Cloud Computing: The Importance of Community Clouds

Bringing the best of public and private clouds

Community Cloud is the cloud infrastructure that is shared by several organizations and supports a specific community that has shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations). It may be managed by the organizations or a third party and may exist on premise or off premise.

With that in mind, we are yet to see larger community clouds across industry verticals.  However Community Cloud adoption will be a key success factor for many industries which are at cross roads worldwide.

Some of the reasons mentioned below will prove why Community Clouds are important in the current volatile global economy.

Cooperation Among Competitors in Specific Areas Is Not New

  • Automotive Composites Consortium (ACC) (a Partnership of DaimlerChrysler[formerly Chrysler], Ford and General Motors) is started with a Mission to conduct joint research programs on structural and semi-structural polymer composites in pre-competitive areas that leverage existing resources and enhance competitiveness.
  • The HR-XML Consortium isthe independent, non-profit, volunteer-ledorganization dedicated to the development and promotion of a standard suite of XML specifications to enable e-business and the automation of human resources-related data exchanges.
  • BEA Systems Inc., IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp. and TIBCO Software Inc. worked together on Web Services ReliableMessaging (WS-RM) specification, comprising both protocol and policy assertions, to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) for further refinement and finalization as a Web services standard.
  • Health Level Seven International (HL7) is a not-for-profit, ANSI-accredited standards developing organization dedicated to providing a comprehensive framework and related standards for the exchange, integration, sharing, and retrieval of electronic health information that supports clinical practice and the management, delivery and evaluation of health services. HL7's 2,300+ members include approximately 500 corporate members who represent more than 90% of the information systems vendors serving healthcare.

Community Clouds in no way will hinder the healthy competition between various vendors, but rather facilitate better customer service, and innovation towards new products and services.

Global Issues Affect All the Competing Organizations and Not Just One
In a globalized economy certain natural disasters and other events like war affect every organization in a particular market segment and not just one specific organization. This emphasizes the need of community clouds so that these issues like disaster recovery, business continuity can be tackled together.

Recently all of the major global automobile industry OEMs, such as GM, Ford, and Toyota, have to slow down on their manufacturing operations due to earthquake in Japan.

Stringent Federal, EU and State Compliance
The USA's Environmental Protection agency and more specifically California Air Resources Board (CARB) have put very stringent vehicle emission standards which all the major automobile manufacturers have to comply with.

The GHS is a common and consistent approach to defining and classifying hazards, and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets (SDS). The European Union has implemented the United Nations' GHS into EU law as the CLP Regulation.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)  regulates the availability and breadth of group health plans and certain individual health insurance policies.

The above are few examples of compliance standards enforced by several Union, Federal and State agencies on the various industry verticals.

Most of the times there is a very stringent time limits that these standards needs to be adhered, organization spend huge amount of investment for this compliance, which stresses the need for community clouds towards satisfying the standard industry compliance needs.

Mergers and Legacy Systems
An acquisition of one company by another company, the consolidation of two companies combine together to form a new company altogether al become part of today's corporate strategy. Today's competitor is tomorrow's partner and hence large enterprises must look from a long term vision of their perceived competitors, when it comes to joining together on community clouds.

However, currently most organizations not using community clouds, have built custom applications for industry common operations. This makes mergers too costly from IT system perspective, because the perceived benefits of increased market space of the two merged companies is evaporated by the huge cost involved in merging their IT systems.

For example, Verizon Communications has sealed a $6.7 billion deal with long-distance provider MCI. However, they used to have about 220 different billing systems and it took lot of investment energy to converge these disparate legacy systems. The same story should be true for most of the mega mergers. While the actual cost of these kind of merging systems are unknown, one of the article on this subject high lights the pain in consolidating the legacy systems after the merger.

The above points stress the need for major industry verticals adopting to Community Clouds for non-Intellectual-related work which will avoid the huge investment of consolidating applications during the merger scenarios.

Government Clouds - Research & Development & Innovation
With the increased threats across the globe and with increasing global competition, no single country can now build the know-how and skills to master these increasingly complex technologies. This is becoming evident in various initiatives of Government Collaboration.

There are initiatives like Federal Community Cloud (FCC) will enable data and services to reside in secure, scalable data centers that can be quickly accessed by federal organizations at a fraction of the cost. The capabilities are dynamic and scalable to help organizations meet government consolidation policies.

Cloud Burst and Dynamic Scaling
Today's organizations serve across globe and yet their core volumes are specific to regions. For example some players may be strong in European countries, and other may be in USA. Also the demand and access patterns for these organization's services will vary between time zones or seasons.

These provide another strong case for building Community Clouds which will provide the best utilization of massive computing resources resulting in overall service improvement for the customers.

Summary
Community Clouds directly tied to the core tenants of cloud

  • Multi Tenancy
  • Shared Infrastructure
  • Reusable Software as a Service

In that context, Community Clouds between the organizations with similar goals will be a very high value proposition for enterprises to adapt the same.

Also the major concern for the public cloud is trust and security between the tenants. With the establishment of policy-oriented collaboration between enterprises, Community Clouds also address that concern. Overall we expect to see the growth of Community Clouds in the near future.

More Stories By Srinivasan Sundara Rajan

Srinivasan Sundara Rajan (Also Known As Sundar) Is A Enterprise Technology Enabler for realizing business capabilities. His primary focus is enabling Agile Enterprises by facilitating the adoption of Every Thing As A Service Model with particular concentration on BpaaS (Business Process As A Service). He also helps enterprises in getting meaningful insights from their structured and unstructured and real time data sources. All the views expressed are Srinivasan's independent analysis of industry and solutions and need not necessarily be of his current or past organizations. Srinivasan would like to thank every one who augmented his Architectural skills with Analytical ideas.

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