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Community Clouds from Governments to Banks Will Challenge Vendors

By Andrea Di Maio | April 27, 2010 | 0 Comments


In discussions about cloud computing, I have often said that government is somewhat special, as there is a clear case for groups of agencies or entire jurisdictions to come together and agree on common requirements, hence leading to a form of non-public cloud that – according to NIST definition – is called “community cloud” (see previous post).

The definition of a “community cloud” is one where the cloud infrastructure is shared by several organizations and supports a specific community that has shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations).

Different flavors of community clouds are being discussed at the US federal level (GSA, NASA, DISA, just to name a few), at the US State Level (Michigan and Utah), in the UK (with their G-Cloud), the Netherlands, Japan, Singapore, and so forth. But I had not come across other industry sectors thinking about building their own cloud.

Until today, when I read that the CTO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said that large vendors are not really driving the change toward infrastructure commoditization and that “another way of addressing the issue would be to get three banks together internationally and agree on how data could be stored and processed and take it as a standard to regulators”. Yesterday an article on the Australian Financial Review confirmed that the Commonwealth Bank of Australia has teamed with Bank of America and Deutsche Bank to create a massive new technology buyer’s consortium that aims to save billions in costs.

This is a very interesting event. One thing is for governments – which do not really compete with each other – to establish a community cloud. Another thing is for sectors where players do fiercely compete against each other to consider common procurement vehicles to deal with vendors more effectively when it comes to cloud computing. Whether this is leading toward a real community cloud, or to a common way for banks to purchase their own private cloud services, vendors should pay attention.

While cloud looks like a vendor market, what governments worldwide and now some banks are doing is to turn it into a buyer market. It is also very interesting to see banks headquartered in three different continents to tackle this together: in fact, while some vendors are responding to demands from the US government by establishing US-based clouds that comply with US federal security requirements, this won’t be enough to serve consortia that cut across geographies.

To use a famous quote: when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

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