Could the public cloud be in the sights of large corporates as delayed IT refresh becomes necessity?

Now that cloud computing has been accepted as the way forward for corporate applications the debate is whether companies will build private clouds or make use of the clouds already available from suppliers.

The general feeling has been that large companies will build private clouds while small companies will take advantage of cloud computing to the full.

I once interviewed an IT expert at a university who described to me what true cloud computing was in his opinion. He said pure cloud computing in business, in the public cloud sense, would mean every user is connected into the cloud and when they request a service the computer will automatically find the most appropriate service at the best price.

A step too far for corporates but they could be moving closer to the public cloud. While core business applications stay in-house cloud or not, services such as email, anti-virus and even storage might move to the public cloud.

I recently had a conversation with Mark Lewis, who is an outsourcing lawyer at Berwin Leighton Paisner. He told me that large customers that he works for are now looking at the cloud for certain applications as and when they need to refresh. He says public cloud services from the likes of Amazon, Google, VMware and Microsoft are being considered.

“It is happening slowly but it is happening,” he said. “Some very large companies are looking at their IT infrastructure because they have not renewed for a number of years. He said they have no plans to put things like SAP in the cloud.

Anjan Lahiri, IT services CEO at tier-two Indian service provider MindTree, agrees that there is a slow acceptance of applications in the public cloud.

“Innovative and new applications are candidates for the public cloud but they are not rushing out the door to put things in the public cloud.”

He says infrastructure applications like email, anti-virus and storage are being considered for the public cloud but in terms of core customer systems he does not see any change from what is happening now.

Mark Bramwell is head of IT at the Welcome Trust which recently moved its IT service Management into the cloud.

He said the charity is beginning to explore the cloud for business applications as part of its IT strategy which kicks off in October. “We are exploring the cloud for legacy applications that come up for upgrade and when we bring in new ones.”

Previously Wellcome Trust had small scale cloud based systems for HR and its investments but its move to ServiceNow’s ITSM in the cloud was a key step.

But Bramwell says security fears are still big obstacles. “The doubt that we are going through at the moment given the press coverage of the public cloud is security.”