OK, you’ve made the decision to move to the cloud. It’s now time to determine which cloud solution and set of supporting services is right not only for you, but potentially for your clients. After all, you’re also working with and safeguarding their data assets.
Choosing the right type of cloud service shouldn’t be daunting, as the differences between the various types are relatively clear.
The public cloud
Most of us – via business-related or personal computing including email, internet browsing or social media – seamlessly leverage public cloud services daily. The public cloud is perfect for businesses wanting to dip their toes into “cloudy waters” before committing to other, more complex cloud services generally used to house more intricate solutions or sensitive data.
Not that public cloud services are necessarily more susceptible to security breaches. Have you heard anything about Facebook, Gmail or SkyDrive security breaches? The question is rhetorical. A cloud vendor’s business is, of course, to manage IT. Such companies are therefore well equipped to protect against and handle unlikely security breaches and disasters should they occur.
In a nutshell, businesses engage a third-party service provider’s public cloud to house company and client data and applications on shared servers and other hardware stored off-site. Public clouds house data from any number of business organizations. They enable budget conscious and/or growing businesses to “pay as they go,” leveraging others’ equipment instead of allocating valuable resources to buy temporary, depreciating equipment.
Delivering true economies of scale, public cloud offerings are ideal for businesses needing temporary added computing capacity at peak times or for collaborative team projects, a spot to test and develop new applications, and a location to house such standardized apps as email.
The private cloud
While public cloud solutions have been proven quite safe thanks to service providers taking great pains to ensure the security of their offerings, the private cloud delivers an added measure of safety, as its services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network. In addition to security, the private cloud gives businesses full control over data and applications.
Higher costs represent the most notable tradeoff, as a private, on-site cloud solution requires the purchase and ongoing maintenance of software and infrastructure. But a private cloud is a strong choice for organizations large enough to run their own data centres and whose businesses are their data and applications. It’s also a wise choice for companies in industries with stringent security and data privacy regulations, such as healthcare, government and insurance.
Private clouds also facilitate the availability of applications internally and externally from any device, anywhere. Resulting flexibility results in happier employees and more satisfied customers able to remotely work or access information at any time. This can also potentially give small and medium sized businesses a competitive edge.
The managed private cloud
Managed cloud services go a step further by including solutions that support enterprise-class workloads. This is a strong option for growing businesses that require increased capacities but aren’t quite ready to purchase on-site equipment. These solutions suite include a wide range of flexible and scalable modular offerings that address changing business demands, with the added benefit of a global supporting infrastructure.
Unlike smaller third party cloud service providers, managed cloud specialists employ highly defined and large-scale tested processes, governance and controls integrated into businesses’ existing delivery environments. Additionally, they address IT strategy, applications and operations, providing faster software implementation at lower costs.
The hybrid cloud
A hybrid solution delivers additional flexibility and scalability to businesses employing private clouds, but that at times also require additional on-demand scalability in response to unexpected surges in workload or recurring times of peak usage. In other words, third-party cloud capacity is leveraged only as needed. It consists of technology managed both internally and externally, with businesses possibly housing less-sensitive data in a public cloud and proprietary information in-house, where such access control measures as authentication, encryption and data confidentiality can be more easily implemented and controlled for greater security.
These cloud services deliver the best of both private and public cloud worlds. Built on a common architecture the solution transcends private, managed, and public clouds, as well as traditional IT.
Start small, grow tall…but think big
Businesses are best served starting small, beginning with self-service infrastructure provisioning and growing to add applications and service brokering across hybrid environments. Using this step-by-step approach, even an organisation starting from zero can start moving toward the cloud today.