Putting the Cloud inside Your Company Firewall

Some enterprises are attracted by the potential advantages of the cloud for disaster recovery and business continuity. However, they fear the possibility of information being spied on, stolen or hacked after it leaves their own physical premises. A little lateral thinking suggests another possible solution. Instead of moving outside a company firewall to use cloud possibilities, how about implementing cloud functionality inside the firewall? A number of vendors now offer private cloud solutions and they have some customers whose identity may surprise you.

Technically, there are different options for private cloud solutions. Software applications for file sharing and synchronisation let organisations run their own ‘Dropbox-style’ services that they can limit to employees and selected partners or third parties. Ready-to-deploy cloud servers are now offered by major vendors such as HP with built-in resource provisioning and virtualisation so that they can be up and running ‘out of the box’. Another enterprising venture (Zadara) involves installing virtual private storage units into an end-customer’s datacentre, where the units are owned and managed by the vendor and the customer pays only for the amount of storage used.

Alternatively, you might want to work with a public cloud provider to use its proven technology as the blueprint for your own private service. Amazon, so it seems, recently put in place a scalable, firewalled cloud network resource for none other than America’s CIA. The idea is that the multiple entities that make up the CIA should be able to access their own on-demand computing, analytic services and data sharing on a pay-as-they-go basis. Some observers are already concerned that the Internet might be effectively breaking up into several large privately controlled content networks. Putting the cloud behind a firewall will probably fuel the debate further too.