Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – A day hardly seems to pass without a company, be it a goliath like IBM or a regionally focused firm, announcing a new flavor of “cloud computing.”

Raleigh-based , which operates data centers in the Triangle, Charlotte and suburban Boston, has been one of the leaders in the “cloud” space. And last week the privately held venture announced a who use varieties of the cloud to access computing, server and bandwidth power on demand.

The Skinny asked Kip Turco, Hosted’s chief technology officer, to talk about what he sees happening in the cloud space.

Private clouds vs. public clouds – is one sector growing faster than the other and if so why?

A public cloud is a multi-tenant cloud where multiple customers are accessing the same shared infrastructure. A private cloud is dedicated hardware for a single customer with virtualization built in on a server level.

A hybrid cloud is a blend – combining a multi-tenant cloud with a dedicated environment. With hybrid, you can cross-connect existing back-end resources such as databases and other supporting applications to the Stratus Trusted Cloud for web front-end computing power and other resources like network, firewall, load balancing and web servers.

We’re seeing more growth with private and hybrid cloud installations. The reason is that so many of our customers are enterprise-class companies hosting their production-level environments with us. They have regulatory requirements that restrict their ability to use a public cloud.

With larger companies such as IBM moving into the cloud space, how can Hosted continue to grow and successfully compete against larger ventures?

We routinely compete against larger companies and we often win. The real advantage with us is that you have access to a world-class SAS-70 Type II certified data center and you can still pick up the phone and get a seasoned virtualization or storage engineer on the line at any time to help you.

We specialize in highly complex managed hosting deals. Very few companies have the depth of managed services that we provide. We’ve got teams of engineers and architects that specialize in things like network, DBA [data base administration] services, Unix management, enterprise security, cloud, enterprise storage and more. Companies of all sizes seek us out for that combination of great data centers and incredible technical talent. Larger companies are typically not set up to deliver that same level of service to a mid-size business.

What are the most important factors driving your cloud growth and cloud growth in general?

The primary reason our cloud is growing at such a significant rate is the “trusted” [Hosted’s branding] aspect. Unlike other cloud providers who may be hosting data in Asia, South America, or other unknown locations, customers know where their data is being housed with Hosted Solutions. They know it’s in a SAS-70 Type II data center, they know our cloud infrastructure is built on best of breed hardware and they know it’s being run/managed by a team of trusted professionals.

Another factor in our rapid growth is our “hi-touch” approach. Many companies want to leverage cloud and love all the benefits (efficiency, flexibility, scalability, etc.) but many are not ready for a self-service model that provides little to no support. With Hosted Solutions, customers get the best of both worlds…..the power of cloud, but along with access to tier 3 engineers who can troubleshoot and help along the way.

The final growth driver is the fact that we offer so many options – public, private, hybrid and cloud storage. Some of our customers have strict regulatory requirements in place and cannot move to a public cloud. The hybrid and private options are ideal in these scenarios. Some customers are running mission critical e-commerce application that cannot be moved into the cloud but they can leverage the hybrid option for compute, network and load balancing.

How is Hosted addressing concerns being raised across the industry about security?

Our Stratus Trusted Cloud is built on the industry’s most robust infrastructure – EMC, Sun, VMware, F5, Cisco, Juniper. We have architected security mechanisms into each layer of our stack based on industry best practices. This starts at the physical layer and moves all the way up to the application layer.

The combination of industrial strength technology along with industry best practices provides a great platform for us to address cloud security concerns raised by our customers. And their concerns are real—there’s a lot of hype out there around cloud security and with some providers, there are no guarantees. Our solutions offer varying levels of security based on client needs—and we stand by those security promises with SLA’s [service level agreements] to back us up.

Is Hosted continuing to experience growth in other business segments, such as general hosting and IT managed services? What are the hot sectors here?

We’re seeing strong growth across all lines of business. Cloud and our more complex managed hosting deals are growing most rapidly.

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