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Tech client polls all point in the same direction: 2011 is the year that cloud computing goes mainstream.

But what form will these clouds take? A survey of 1000 customers of the networking equipment vendor Ipswitch, released today, shows that two-thirds of companies are making cloud investments in 2011.

For security reasons, most are plumping for either a purely private cloud, or a hybrid public-private mix.

The complete results to the question “Where will you invest most for cloud-based services in 2011?” were:

  • Not Planning Any Investment: 36.3%
  • Private Cloud:  29%
  • Public (e.g. Amazon, Microsoft Azure) 13.3%
  • Mix of Public and Private  21.3%

Private clouds are considered by respondents to be safe and easier to manage. In other words, they like the idea of location-independent computing for the staff and fewer servers and fewer server rooms. But they want the server consolidation and virtualisation going on in their own servers and their own data centres. And they want the cloudy software confined to their own networks.

This shows some of the challenges that vendors face in persuading customers to embrace pure-play utility-style computing.

Question is: is the private cloud around to stay for the long term, or is it merely an interim stage of development in cloud computing? To put it another way, how will cloud computing vendors resolve the security concerns of their clients? ®

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