IT departments face the challenge of making technology available to business users through the web while retaining control of security and data.
The future could see a user request a service and the public cloud delivering the most appropriate application automatically according to the price and security demanded by the user.
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To this end, businesses are building private clouds as a stepping stone to public clouds, according to Gartner. The analyst firm says companies will spend more on developing private clouds than they will on services from cloud suppliers.
"The hype of cloud computing is that existing IT architectures and processes can be simply replaced by the cloud," says Tom Bittman, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
He says larger organisations will continue to have an IT organisation that manages and deploys IT resources internally, some of which will be private clouds. "IT organisations will also take on IT service sourcing responsibility, determining when to leverage external providers, when to deploy internally, and when to leverage both for specific services."
Paul Watson, professor of computer science at Newcastle University, says cloud computing helped companies to solve many problems quickly because initial customers were start-ups without an existing IT infrastructure.
"Clouds were good for them because they did not need capital and they could pay as you go," he says.
Where organisations already have IT departments, staff often become frustrated and go straight to the cloud, taking control away from IT.
Watson believes cloud computing could have a similar impact on the IT department as the PC did in the 1980s when people stopped using mainframes.
"After PCs arrived, if you wanted to do something that was not provided by the IT department people started writing applications. It is the same when people bypass the IT department and use the cloud. There is no governance."
He says businesses can offer internal resources as a service in a private cloud which can become a gatekeeper and ensure everything used in the external cloud is governed properly.
"Over time they will want to use external clouds, provided by Microsoft and Amazon for example, because of cost savings, but they need everything to go through the gatekeeper."
Steve Caughey, managing director at Arjuna Technologies, which develops software that can link clouds both internal and external, says, "If you are an IT department and you do not recognise the cloud as a competency then you are in trouble."
He says the IT department has to become the cloud of choice. "If you ignore this the users will go on their own."