Cloud has become one of the most talked about technologies of the decade. With players big and small entering the game daily, more and more companies are turning to monthly, cloud-based services. But with any emerging technology, understanding the cloud can be a bit fuzzy. With all of the "buzz words" floating around the industry, its easy to hear words like "Scalability" and "OpEX" when talking to service providers, and not really understand what they mean.
In the midst of all the cloud word vomit are the "public," "private," and "hybrid" cloud. Commonly blended together and confused, these three cloud technologies are not one in the same. Infact, understanding the difference between these three cloud options is essential to establishing your business's cloud strategy. If you aren't sure what type of cloud your company needs, how can you initiate an investment?
To give you a better understanding of public, private and hybrid cloud, let's walk through each of them.
Private cloud is a type of cloud computing that is built specifically for a given business. Private cloud allows for a company to host applications in the cloud, while being able to address concerns regarding the security and control of its data. What most people don’t know is that there are two forms of private cloud:
- On-Premise Private Cloud: On-premise cloud means that the data a company owns is held in its own data center; typically located onsite. This can allow for a company to implement more of a consistent process, but limits the storage size and scalability of its data. For a business that requires absolute control of its infrastructure, this form of private cloud is the right fit. Something to be weary of with an onsite data center, however, is that there are serious consequences if a natural disaster or data breach were to happen.
- Externally-Hosted Private Cloud: Externally-hosted means that a company’s data is hosted offsite, typically by a service provider. This private cloud provider gives companies the privacy of an on-premise cloud, but the scalability of a public cloud. The privacy is increased because the data can be transferred using added security measures, such as encryption and a secure network. These forms of transference are unique to private and hybrid cloud only.
Public cloud is another form of hosting your data through a service provider. The service provider hosts a company’s data in its data center, which is available to the customer over the internet. Similarly to externally-hosted private cloud, the service provider takes all the responsibility for the management and maintenance of the equipment that the files are backed up to. The difference is that the space in the service provider's data center is likely shared with other organizations. A common misconception of this shared space is the lack of security, but what most organizations don’t realize is that the chance of a security breach is minimal, and much smaller than that of an on-premise private data center. Additionally, all of the data is organized and held separately from other companies’ data.
Hybrid cloud is a combination of both public and private cloud. This technique involves inputting all the data that the organization does not want accessed through the internet, or in the public cloud, into the private data center. This can include any "mission critical" data or important employee and business information that is considered sensitive. All other data can be stored in a much more scalable environment, known as the public cloud.
A good example of when to use hybrid cloud is when a company wants to keep bank transactions, credit card info, and SSN’s away from the public, but still wants a scalable cloud solution to input its front end web servers. The privacy is increased for the data that is sensitive, but the company is not capped at how much its data can grow, due to the integration of the public cloud. The two seamlessly work together to create a hybrid cloud approach to backing up company files.
What’s Right for You?
Which cloud solution is right for your business, is ultimately up to the ROI specific to your company. Typically, larger companies with larger budgets for building and maintaining of an on-site data center will choose a private or hybrid cloud solution, due to its protection of private information. Smaller to mid-sized businesses might choose a public cloud, as it is a simpler, more cost-effective solution to hosting data.