What are the pros and cons of public, private and hybrid cloud solutions and which one is right for your organisation?

Moving into the Cloud is increasingly being seen as an important consideration when reviewing how IT supports and delivers services within the business, but like many things, it is not a one-size-fits-all equation.

There is a lot of confusion about which Cloud options are available and which will be most suitable for the business.

However there are several ways to configure Cloud solutions for business and we explore the pros and cons of the three most common Cloud options: Public, Private and Hybrid.

But first, let’s define what is meant by “the Cloud”.

The Cloud: A Definition

In a textbook sense, the Cloud is the delivery of computing as a service where shared resources, software, and information is provided to computers and other devices as a utility usually accessed via the Internet.

The Cloud provides large pools of resources connected via networks that allow on demand scalability for infrastructure, applications, data and storage enabling rapid scale and deployment opportunities.

So how does this differ for private, public and hybrid Cloud configurations?

Public Clouds

Public Clouds are owned and operated by independent third-party service providers, typically large in scale and are offered to the public on a user pays model.

All users share the same infrastructure, for example, Dropbox. Public Cloud services, in general, are targeted to individuals and organisations that do not require high levels of security, systems integration or data privacy.

The primary benefit of the Public Cloud is the provision of this access to resources and sophisticated technology for a fraction of the purchase price. Furthermore, Public Clouds provide almost unlimited scalability allowing their services to be effectively ‘’procured on-demand”.

The main downside to the Public Cloud is the perception of the security of data in a shared environment.

For some businesses the specification of where data is held being determined by the service provider; in some instances, this could be offshore, may result in potential issues for privacy and compliance.

There is, however, a counter-argument that the services providers spend millions of dollars to ensure your security and privacy and may, in fact, be more secure than private enterprise.

Private Clouds

Private Clouds are built exclusively for an organisation, allowing it to operate in a cloud environment. There are two main types of Private Cloud: On-Site and External.

On-site, as the name suggests, means the resources are hosted within the organisations own premises (data centre). External means the resources are built for the organisation exclusively but provided by an external provider.

The primary benefit of the Private Cloud is that is provides technology as a virtualised service to the organisation without the same privacy concerns of the Public Cloud. Private Clouds offer scope for advanced security, high availability and fault tolerances that may not be available in Public Cloud offerings. It also allows you to control precisely where data and information are held to ensure compliance and privacy regulations are met.

The downside of Private Clouds is that they require a significant capital investment and as such are not procured on demand like the Public Cloud. Due to the significant investment required the scalability is limited to the investment made – which in almost all cases will be significantly less than the Public Cloud offerings.

Hybrid Clouds

Hybrid Clouds, which are becoming increasingly popular, comprise a combination of both Public and Private Cloud offerings.

In a Hybrid Cloud model, an organisation can leverage third-party Cloud offerings whether in full or partially depending upon their specific requirements.

Augmenting a traditional Private Cloud with the resources of a Public Cloud can help manage temporary spikes in load without the investment required to meet the demand of a Private Cloud environment.

The main benefit of the Hybrid model is that it allows the organisation to have the best of both options depending upon its requirements. An organisation can steer certain data and information to a Private Cloud to ensure security and compliance measures are satisfied whilst leveraging the scalability of the Public Cloud for the load.

The downside of the hybrid model is complexity. Implementing a hybrid model requires diligent requirement gathering, skilful set-up and management, which comes at an additional cost, both in terms of technology and effort.

Understand Your Business and Service Level Requirements

No matter which Cloud option or options your business leverages it is important to remember that the Cloud at its best offers a way to have technology provided in a more cost effective or efficient way. But it can mean the added complexity of support.

Another thing to be mindful of: where non-production systems and production systems differ (i.e. private vs public Cloud), your environments also differ. Your testing needs to reflect this as well as any non-functional requirements such as configuration, storage, latency and disaster recovery.

Be sure to understand what your service level requirements are and that your service providers can support those requirements.

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