By Catherine Madden After attending the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference last month, it was impossible to not think about how cloud computing will impact the oil and gas industry. Are oil and gas companies well positioned to take advantage of cloud computing as a viable option to decrease complexity within their IT environment? Are the opportunities for oil and gas companies around cloud computing associated with a private or public cloud? Cloud computing has many dimensions. In simple terms, IDC defines cloud services to be business and consumer products, services, and solutions delivered and consumed in real time over the Internet. The public cloud is a deployment model that entails the cloud being open to a largely unrestricted universe of potential users; designed for a market, not for a single enterprise. Whereas, the private cloud deployment is designed for restricted access to a single enterprise (or extended enterprise); an internal shared resource, not a commercial offering; an IT organization as "vendor" of a shared/standard service to its users. Given the current investment and existing IT infrastructure, and the concerns for security when sharing information, the private cloud is the strongest direction for oil and gas companies. The "Private Cloud" is the evolution of "IT as a Service" as the next wave of isolation from hardware. And, just-in-time provisioning and scaling are key aspects of the private cloud. The most significant drivers for a private cloud approach in oil and gas include: * Lower IT costs * Eliminating lag time to launch applications * Interoperability between applications on private, public and on-premise applications IDC Energy Insights believes oil and gas companies will leverage the investment that they have made in IT by adopting a private cloud model. Private clouds will require access to a self-service portal, and these management portals should have a fairly high level of automation. IDC's research indicates that there is rapid growth in spending for virtual machines. Virtualization has brought cloud computing opportunities to the forefront. Oil and gas companies that have a virtualization strategy are better positioned for configuring, protecting data (not just back-up and stores), and as well as how to automatically provision for a cloud strategy. For oil and gas companies, some of the key concerns are identity federation (private VLANS and firewalls), security (shared hardware pools), and management for a cloud strategy. Right now, the largest oil and gas companies could gain the most from a private cloud model. Because of IT investment already made by these size companies, a private cloud model supports a higher level of flexibility, and more control (full access to all the bits and components) as opposed to a shared services model, and at the same time, they are coming up on the learning curve in a familiar environment. In the area of upstream, opportunities for on-demand computing for reservoir management where there is still too much data – makes the private cloud attractive. It's an on-demand, elastic environment. IT's role is evolving as the provider and supplier of technology services. And, the data center of the future will be built on a converged infrastructure (includes storage, servers, network, and management software). Are you investing in a private cloud strategy? What types of security concerns may prevent your organization from investing in a cloud strategy? For the original link to this blog, visit: Catherine Madden of IDC Energy Insights