Some businesses feel that the public approach to cloud computing is the most beneficial, while others believe that a private cloud solution would give them an advantage over rival firms. But to even pick one or the other, it is vital to get a good understanding of each type of cloud set-up.
Here is a look at the public and private cloud platforms as they exist today, detailing the type of service perks and pitfalls that you can expect to experience when you migrate from an in-house approach to IT.
Public cloud platforms can effectively turn IT into a utility that can be purchased on demand and with nearly unlimited scalability. This means that there are few obstacles preventing businesses from adopting such a solution, irrespective of their size or the financial resources at their disposal.
A public cloud provider will allow you to rent out storage and processing capacity, which can then be applied to any number of tasks within your business.
SaaS (Software as a Service) is one of the most popular products available in the public cloud, letting you access applications which are hosted remotely rather than installed locally on workstations and other devices. This lets employees remain productive whether they are working from the office, out in the field or even at home. It also means that your business does not need to manage things like licences for programs, saving you money and time.
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) is also a big growth area within the public cloud market, allowing companies to tap into IT resources that are housed off-site and effectively host an entire system with a third-party provider. This helps to reduce costs, because there will be less need to pay for procurement, installation, maintenance and upgrading of complicated systems internally. This leads into the overall cost-effectiveness of public cloud adoption, because your firm will be liberated from the perpetual cycle of IT investment that was previously required.
Even start-ups and small, local businesses can use the public cloud to get a leg up, with access to high-end systems and fully scalable storage and processing capacity helping them to rise to the challenge of competing with much bigger rivals.
Such scalability is another intrinsic benefit of the public cloud, since it means that businesses can harness a fully flexible platform which is not restricted by physical limitations of in-house hardware.
This is not only relevant for companies that are expecting to undergo periods of significant growth, but also firms that will experience sporadic spikes of increased capacity requirements due to seasonal peak periods and other events.
With the public cloud, a business can invest in more storage and clock cycles to deal with an influx of data and app usage, then scale back what they are spending when it is no longer required. This efficiency of resource allocation means that money is not being needlessly sucked up by an on-site IT set-up that is rarely being used maximally.
Of course, there are some elements of public cloud computing which may not be as appealing to businesses in certain industries. Enterprise clients will have to share the data centre hardware with other users and, depending on the provider, these facilities may be based overseas, which can cause problems when it comes to working out legal issues.
Businesses may be concerned about the lack of control they have over the hardware and software being used to power their apps and store information. Business owners might also feel anxious about the types of security that are on offer.
While security remains a hot topic within the public cloud market, most companies which have actually embraced this type of IT service are no longer sceptical about its potential to save money and improve the levels of data protection to which they have access.
It is also possible to create a virtual private cloud environment by renting out specific hardware within a third-party data centre, giving you the benefits of improved control while still letting you take advantage of the kinds of robust features made available by a provider.
The private cloud can be just as scalable as the public cloud, if not quite matching it when it comes to cost-effectiveness due to the nature of the arrangement. It should also theoretically be more secure and comprehensively manageable by an in-house team, even if the hardware is located remotely.
By 'virtualising' the IT environment within a business using a private cloud solution, many different services and systems can be managed centrally and the same kind of external access to certain apps and mission-critical data can be granted.
Of course, the need to invest in hardware and construct a facility to store it in a private cloud set-up may be too much for some businesses. It might also be too similar to conventional on-site systems.
For example, a hybrid set-up may use the private cloud to host apps and services that deal with sensitive information on a day-to-day basis, while the public cloud can be on hand to scale and meet the needs of a business when it goes through a busy period.
The public cloud can also be used as a data dump, which offers a resilient and powerful place to store the mountains of information that are generated in the course of normal operations.
All businesses which are thinking about adopting the cloud need to carry out a thorough assessment of their needs in order to establish which type of solution, whether public, private or hybrid, will be the most appropriate for their investment.