Public, Private or Hybrid: Cloud Computing and Your Business
The final blog in our series delving in to the cloud, we explore the types of cloud computing, how they are implemented and what they can mean for the efficacy of your business.
As previously discussed in parts one and two, the benefits of adopting cloud technology within operations is imperative to stay ahead of the curve and put your business at the forefront of an ever-changing medium.
The landscape of cloud computing is adapting constantly to varying consumer needs. With definitions changing all the time, it is vital to be sure that the most suitable service is working with your existing infrastructure in the most effective way.
Let’s take a closer look at the three types of cloud computing:
Public cloud computing refers to the virtual environment created from pools of widespread resources collected through one or more data centres. Public clouds use a shared infrastructure managed by a third party with various applications from different customers hosted on the networks and servers belonging to the provider. The provider levels the network so that many businesses and individuals can access all features without noticing a lag or slowdown in usability. Information can be viewed by a range of people in varied locations, allowing the meaningful collaboration of ideas where the traditional approach is not logistically plausible.
More often than not, public clouds are hosted away from the business’ premises, reducing risk and giving a virtual extension to an enterprise infrastructure. With the ability to host multiple services – such as storage, applications, platforms and messaging – on a single off-premise server, location independence is guaranteed and employees from disparate areas are able to enjoy the same sense of camaraderie.
Another aspect of a public cloud that differentiates it from other options, and can be a marked benefit, is its level of scalability. With resources made available from a pool of many, services can be scaled up or down depending on specific requirements. In terms of reliability, the creation of a public cloud utilises an incredible number of servers and networks. This means that the failing of one component would not affect the smooth running of the cloud as a whole. Public clouds also have the added benefit of being cheaper to access due to the blanket nature of its architecture. Without the tailor-made options present in exclusive or private cloud plans, the costs are reduced and can often utilise plans whereby businesses pay only for what they use.
Security, whilst rigorously checked and improved as often as possible, is not a given with a public cloud model. With publically shared resources and data being hosed off-site, there can be room for intrusion and the very highest levels of security cannot be ensured.
With a private cloud model, the infrastructure is owned by the business, which offers greater control over how applications are deployed. The datacentre resource could be located on-premise or at a co-location facility, and either created and managed by a company’s own dedicated IT team or a cloud provider. Businesses gain further control over the use of the cloud’s pool of resources, safe in the knowledge that access is restricted to only those within the company, regardless of where they are situated. These resources are ring-fenced for exclusive use by a single company, increasing security and keeping sensitive information within set parameters of usage.
The access to the cloud is restricted, allowing only connections from behind the company’s firewall. The most obvious benefit of a private cloud model is just that: privacy. Although a private cloud is, for all intents and purposes, more secure than a public cloud and usually operated from within a single organisation, it can still be hosted via a third party. In this case, an internal cloud may be an even more secure option. Internal clouds provide services and applications created and managed by an IT department, applying virtualisation mechanisms, network resources and options for shared storage to give complete control to a single enterprise.
There are similarities between a private and public cloud, including scalability and the creation of multiple virtualised machines (VMs) for more difficult tasks, such as big data. However, the biggest differences involve private cloud hosting on a company’s proprietary architecture. This bespoke option is often utilised by businesses whose operations are not as effective on a standard cloud arc.
Moreover, choosing a private cloud may not be entirely based on the need, but rather the capabilities of your company. If an enterprise is large enough to support a next-gen cloud datacentre, it can be an attractive option for being efficient and effective without third-party support.
Ensuring each aspect of a business is placed in the most dynamic computing environment possible is imperative. Hybrid clouds are a mixture of private and public, with the parameters of which applications are designated to which area of the cloud entirely up to the company. Where there are mutual touch points between clouds, a blend of both can be created to better serve certain areas of a company. Augmenting a private cloud to utilise the resources of a public cloud can help maintain service throughout peaks in workload, as well as giving businesses that offer process as a service a unified and well-managed environment.
With a hybrid cloud, the secure elements of private meet the shared nature of a public cloud. This allows businesses to define which areas of operation must be kept private and which can be accessible to anyone – including those outside the business such as potential clients or companies used for outsourced work. As well as allowing businesses greater control over how important information is used, there is less pressure being put on the resources of the private section of the cloud, which in itself improves speed and productivity. The financial implications are also more positive, with hybrid clouds offering a centralised management but with bespoke options for even greater control. Businesses now have the power over how, when and where their information is shared, without the worry of security.
The main disadvantage of a hybrid cloud is the complexity of the management required to keep its intended effectiveness. Implementing hybrid capabilities requires careful thought as to which process and applications should remain private and which should be accessible publically. In spite of the perceived challenge, analyst house Gartner expect the use of hybrid to surpass private clouds, with just under half of large businesses having deployments incorporated by 2017.
Cloud Service Models
There are three main levels of service in cloud computing, each one specifying responsibilities that are upheld by the service provider. The higher level of service, the less work there is for the business to do in terms of what they need to get a completely productive cloud.
The three cloud service models are:
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS refers to the virtualised infrastructure provided by the cloud enabler over the internet. All resources – networks, datacentre space and servers) are provided as a utility. Whereas, in the past, a business would have had to incorporate hardware, power and datacentres within their premises, IaaS lays this out as standard. IaaS models are the lowest tier however provide a basic framework, often on a pay-as-you-use basis.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
A step up from IaaS, PaaS offers the use of an operating system and its associated services over the internet. Developers can build and customise applications onto the infrastructure specific to the business without being concerned about the management of these applications on the OS. Other benefits include failover procedures and scaling options.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
The top level of cloud service is SaaS, which offers customers their whole cloud experience over the internet. This includes applications that are hosted by the service provider, which negates the end user’s need to download, install and manage them. CRM, HR and financial/accounting applications are of particular interest with this model and software updates are done automatically, leaving the business to worry about what is truly important.
With the wide range of cloud types and service models available, there are few reasons not to adopt some form of cloud infrastructure into your core business strategy. Allowing for meaningful collaboration can encourage your business to be on the cusp of communication in a world that is getting smaller.
Can a cloud infrastructure help your business? Find out more about the basics and benefits of the cloud in parts one and two of our blog series. You can also find out more about our brand new cloud-based platform, ICE, here. We are also excited to announce our next blog series exploring Video as a Service (Vaas), which will explain how video conferencing can change your view on meetings forever.