Cloud is one of the latest technology trends and we predict that it’s here to stay. In 2014, 19% of Enterprises in the European Union used cloud computing for their email systems and data storage while 46% of these firms used advanced cloud services. These firms used both public and private infrastructures.
Should you be using private or public cloud services? The answer to this would depend on your company’s needs as well as an in-depth look at the pros and cons of each type. The three big go-to public cloud services come from Amazon, Google and Microsoft (although several tech reviews puts Amazon Web Services on top due to minimal errors and reliability).
Cloud computing is not only recommended by private firms but by government organisations and websites. The Queensland Government website outlined the basic benefits of cloud computing for businesses. They include:
- Reduced IT costs. No wages to pay, reduced energy consumption and reduced time delays.
- Scalability. Most business can assess their operation and adapt it to their needs and the capability of their resources.
- Continuity. Despite power failures, digital crisis and hardware failures, business can continue as usual with cloud.
- Collaboration efficiency. It allows flexibility on collaboration for employees and even third party access.
- Flexibility. Employees can access data regardless of location.
- Auto-updates. No need for manual updates, cloud computing services will complete or automatically schedule all updates and fixes.
With these benefits, investment firms have much to gain.
Back to the original question; how do you choose which cloud type is best for your business? There are three main cloud options to consider: public, private (as mentioned) and hybrid. Things to be considered before choosing include the type of data to be handled as well as the level of security and management needed for the cloud system.
Let’s dissect what each cloud type has to offer your business.
The Public Cloud
Public clouds are operated by third party cloud providers. Since users are numerous, the costs are divided across users, making the service very affordable. Public is said to offer the best level of efficiency when it comes to sharing of resources (this is an important feature for businesses using cloud). Despite public benefits, this type of cloud may be more vulnerable to security threats compared to private clouds.
The public cloud is said to be beneficial due to the following reasons:
- Pay-as-you-go basis. Most public cloud providers do not bind users to a contract to use a server or multiple servers. The length of time that you use a server is an open negotiation and you can even shut down your server after using it for only a couple of hours.
- Utility Model. Since it’s a pay-as-you-go model, it is considered to be a utility model. You pay per hour of use, thus it is considered more economical than other cloud options.
- Shared hardware. You share the same hardware as other users and don’t have to provide maintenance or upgrades. The obvious disadvantage here is that you have no control over your hardware. Discuss wih your provider to make sure you meet PCI and SOX compliance requirements.
- Easy collaboration. Public cloud is the best option for collaboration projects within a company or between staff in different locations.
- Self-managed. It’s a public cloud, therefore you have to manage it or hire staff to manage it. It can be advantageous for those who would like set up and manage their server’s details. However, if you’re looking for a managed solution, public might not be the best option.
Public cloud is usually best for web servers and development systems that have no issues over security and compliance requirements. It is ideal for small to medium sized organisations that require flexibility to meet fluctuating demands.
The Private Cloud
Private cloud is maintained on a private network. Built for individual enterprises, it’s hardware, network and storage is only available to one client or company. Two variations of private cloud services exist, including On-Premise Private Cloud and Externally Hosted Private Cloud.
Some of the top benefits of private cloud includes:
- Security. Private cloud services have high level security since its service is dedicated to a single client. The security levels can be customised to suit a company, but access is strictly limited to those who are allowed into the system.
- Compliance. Private cloud compliance is an easy task since all components (hardware, storage and configuration) are for a single client.
- Customisable. Private cloud abilities at network, hardware and storage levels can be customised easily to suit the needs of the company.
- Hybrid deployment. Private cloud has the capacity for hybrid deployment.
Private clouds are much more costly compared to public clouds, understandably. Private services are usually chosen by large enterprises for the security and compliance specifications.
The Hybrid Cloud
Hybrid cloud is a combination of both public and private cloud services. Hybrid services help organisations leverage third-party cloud providers in either a full or partial manner. Thus, one thing that hybrid cloud boasts is flexibility. It’s also said to have a good capacity for scalability on demand.
Companies usually augment their private cloud with several public resources in case unexpected workloads come through the system. Clients usually use public services to deal with any client interactions while keeping data in a private set up for security.
Management requirements of hybrid cloud can be tricky. One of the most important aspects of hybrid maintenance is keeping track of several security platforms and user ability to navigate through different cloud “layers”. Companies often keep different aspects of their business operations on different levels of cloud services. This is the most efficient way of working with cloud, however, the goal is to ensure that communication between these aspects is maintained throughout the whole organisation or for those who are allowed to access private and public infrastructure.
Which Cloud Would You Choose?
Public cloud offers a pay-per-use model, fast access to resources and the flexibility to add to and drop the service. Private cloud, on the other hand, boasts of high capacity visibility, control, security and privacy features. Hybrid cloud is of course a mixture of the two.
But which would be the best choice? You might be thinking hybrid is the way to go; it gives you the features of both public and private systems should you need them. However, some of these features may be of no relevance to you and your company.
Let’s review some facts. Firstly, both public and private services are going to be around for a long time to come. Cloud technology is great for modern business and it’s not going to be leaving any time soon. Secondly, if you have a large company with many requirements, your choice might be a bit easier; hybrid is easily navigable and might be your best option. Thirdly, don’t let your decision rely solely on cloud, infrastructure is important to your business too.
First analyse exactly what your company needs or hopes to achieve from cloud services and evaluate your goals. Questions to ask your organisation include:
- Can we afford the cloud choice?
- What’s the level of security are we aiming for?
- What applications are moving to the cloud?
- Does our company face regular issues?
Questions to ask possible providers include:
- Does the cloud service have prior downtime history?
- How will the data be accessed?
- How do you rate your flexibility?
- What level of support do you offer?
- How do you price your service?
- Are any aspects of the cloud outsourced? (be aware of any third party interactions)
- How secure is your cloud against a range of security threats?
Check with various cloud providers online for more questions and do further research before deciding on a cloud type and cloud provider.