We speculated on vertical stratification of clouds at Interop Unconference back in May: demand for specialized cloud platforms will arise despite the availability of highly centralized low cost utility computing (i.e. Google, Amazon) since specific requirements of privacy or business process will require value added services and specialized architectures. Could one imagine a cloud provider specializing in HIPAA compliance?
Well an example just hit our radar: Fedcloud offers “Federally Compliant Trusted Cloud Computing.” (thanks Data Center Knowledge!) “A Trusted Cloud Computing Environment: Apptis and ServerVault combined our capabilities to provide you computing in an on-demand infrastructure that enables you to acquire, utilize, and disengage without contractual dependency (subscription fees, licenses, or long-term commitments). This extraordinary capability offers a utility bundle inclusive of hardware, software, personnel (24x7x365 engineering and operations, and application management) all with federally compliant security, processes, and procedures.”
Why this verticalization? Architecture and operations can matter a lot when specific requirements are introduced. There is an opportunity for premium margins for utility computing that addresses specific industries. You may need to be in a very narrow geographical area, or need technologies specific to your trade to be running in the cloud data center. Perhaps you aren’t allowed to share a hypervisor with other organizations? Or you might need on-site staff trained in particular arcane skills. Some types of vertical clouds could theoretically rest on top of infrastructure service clouds in the same way that Rightscale and Elastra sit on top of AWS, others will need to have an entirely difference architecture. Look for wide diversification and layering of these “vertical clouds” in the next few years, and a healthy ecosystem of options for cloud consumers!
While on the topic of cloud computing, Todd Hoff has an excellent short list of other cloud computing blogs to check out!