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The debate between public and private clouds isn’t really much of a debate. As more businesses move their data to the cloud, the most likely scenario, particularly for larger businesses, is a hybrid strategy of both public and private clouds.

The idea of transferring corporate data and software operations to the cloud is usually accompanied by general concerns about security and privacy, as well as the necessity to adhere to strict compliance regulations. Weighing the benefits and drawbacks of both public and private clouds, the future is in a hybrid strategy where less mission-critical data will move to the public cloud and data related to core competencies will stay in the more easily controlled private cloud.

Concern over security and privacy is one of the biggest inhibitors to adoption of the cloud within all sizes of companies, said Marcia Kaufman, partner and COO of Hurwitz & Associates (, a strategy consulting, market research and analyst firm. Businesses that are highly regulated under Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA and others (including industry-specific regulations, such as those that exist in the financial sector) have even more to be worried about when moving their data to the cloud.

However, as CIOs are further convinced that cloud computing is secure enough for their workloads and they realize the additional benefits of the cloud, more businesses will continue to migrate to the cloud. Although public and private clouds often seem to be positioned as an “either/or” scenario, the reality is that businesses are – and will continue to – adopt both for different purposes. One organization is likely to be using both public and private clouds, Kaufman said.

For the time being, though, the hybrid strategy will be restricted to larger enterprises that can either host a private cloud within their own data centers or afford the costs of outsourcing the private cloud to a large technology vendor such as IBM, she said.

“I think you can look at this certainly across different types of companies and sizes of companies,” Kaufman said. “If you’re talking about a small business and they are interested in perhaps using software-as-a-service such as or a billing type of solution, and the small business without a data center is able to access and make use of the public cloud in a way that gives them the capabilities of a much larger business, you’re not going to get into whether to use a public or a private cloud if you’re a small/medium business.”

The cost benefits of using the public cloud make sense for SMBs, whereas private clouds are still far too expensive for anything under the upper mid-market, Kaufman said.

Enterprises have the data centers already in place, so they can more easily construct and manage a private cloud, she said. Security is still a concern, though.