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Why Cloud Service Providers are Missing the Boat on Community Clouds

Why Cloud Service Providers are Missing the Boat on Community Clouds

Some things are difficult to define, but easy to recognize (as Justice Potter Stewart observed about pornography). Other things are easy to define, but difficult to identify in real life. Such is the case with community clouds.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) designates community cloud as one of four cloud deployment models (along with public, private, and hybrid cloud). NIST’s definition is fairly straightforward: the community cloud is a deployment model in which “the cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a specific community of consumers from organizations that have shared concerns (e.g. mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations).”2

Identifying a community cloud in the business world, however, is more challenging. Cloud service providers do not market “community cloud” offers, and many readily admit they have no way of knowing which of their customers may be using their cloud services in a community cloud arrangement. In most cases, the users themselves are best positioned to identify an arrangement as a community cloud, since only the user community is aware if authorized users hail from multiple companies. And they likely do not care how NIST or the industry categorizes their arrangement.

To be sure, some cloud service providers have worked with specific customer groups to develop or support customized community-type deployments—the most common serving the US federal government.

Nonetheless, we believe the market for “semi-private” cloud services is underserved. Cloud service providers can tap into the opportunity by developing offers that bundle existing private cloud infrastructure services with platforms and services that address the unique need of a community—for example, tools for billing, chargeback, and access management.

About this report

In this report, Frost & Sullivan examines use cases involving community clouds. We define the roles and responsibilities of community cloud providers and customers, and the challenges that make community cloud implementations difficult for customers. Finally, we offer recommendations for providers wanting to capitalize on the community cloud opportunity.


  • Introduction1
  • What Is a Community Cloud?
    • Sponsoring Organization
    • Why Community Cloud?
  • Community Cloud Roles and Responsibilities
    • Community Cloud Sponsoring Organizations
    • Service Providers
  • Examples of Community Clouds
    • The HP Virtual Fort Knox
    • The UnionRead Information Technology Ltd. Helion Cloud
    • The Verizon Enterprise Cloud Federal Edition
    • Why Providers Should Offer Community Cloud Services
  • The Last Word

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