The value that an organization derives from cloud computing is directly proportional to how a particular service fits the organization's needs. This can best explain the silent but steady rise of the community cloud, amid the intense debate on which flavor of the cloud - public, private, or hybrid - will dominate the scene.
Community clouds are not necessarily a new technology but an adaptation of the existing cloud services, catering to a niche segment. A subset of public clouds, community clouds address a specific vertical such as healthcare, finance, or government. Its attraction to client organizations is that it is customized to a particular industry and hence better suited for the customer from a business perspective. A community cloud addresses specific industry requirements, enables customers to leverage data, and share business models.
The cost benefits from the pooled resources that a community cloud offers, surpass the benefits of a generic cloud offering. A healthcare community cloud typically would have specific access and security features that allow users to maintain HIPAA compliance while addressing their data storage needs.
Similarly, intelligence agencies in the United States are working on a cloud computing network to enable analysts to access and sift through massive volumes of data. This pan-agency cloud will contribute to breaking down the silos in which intelligence agencies typically operate and help them share technologies and best practices while providing security.
Similar community cloud offerings are expected to develop around geographically dispersed industries with a high volume of data to share, such as logistics, or banking and financial services. However, one factor that could slow down the adoption and growth of community clouds is getting the buy-in from individual organizations.
A community cloud may be deployed on-premise or off-premise, managed by organizations collectively, or by a third-party vendor. Another option would be joint ventures where each party contributes a share of the resources in equal proportion.
Besides being horizontal, such as in the case of governments or hospitals, community clouds can also be integrated vertically like supply chains. While it is still unclear how the cloud computing industry itself will evolve, what is certain is that community clouds can transform businesses and industries.