There are plenty of definitions for “cloud computing” and for the most part, they generally point to the same thing: taking applications and running them on infrastructure other than your own. Our world is changing through the use of the internet. You may not be aware but we use cloud applications in our everyday life for example Hotmail for email, iTunes and Spotify for music and Dropbox and Google Drive for file storage.
Cloud computing comes in three forms: public clouds, private clouds and hybrids clouds. Depending on the type of data you’re working with, you’ll want to compare public, private and hybrid clouds in terms of the different levels of security and management required.
A public cloud is basically the internet. Service providers use the internet to make resources, such as applications (also known as Software-as-a-service) and storage, available to the general public, or on a public cloud. Examples of public clouds businesses can use are Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), IBM’s Blue Cloud, Sun Cloud, Google AppEngine and Windows Azure Services Platform.
For users, these types of clouds are relatively inexpensive to set-up because hardware, application and bandwidth costs are covered by the provider. It’s a pay-per-usage model and the only costs incurred are based on the capacity that is used.
There are some limitations, however; the public cloud may not be the right fit for every organisation. While Public Clouds are appealing to many businesses as they reduce complexity and lead times, because the underlying architecture is fixed, there is less scope for customisation for security and performance.
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There are many types of Public Cloud, the most common being Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Platform as a service (PaaS), Software as a service (SaaS) and Desktop as a service (DaaS) platforms – all of which we make available to the channel through our proprietary Cloud services. The economies of scale afforded by Public Cloud computing are what make this technology highly attractive.
The public cloud is suited to companies that need to bring a service to market quickly, have less regulatory hurdles to overcome, or are looking to outsource part or all of their organisational IT requirements. Under this scenario, the business can simply sign-up for and start using Cloud Computing, online storage and other services immediately. Example of software using Public cloud is Sage One and NetSuite.
Private clouds are data centre architectures owned by a single company that provides flexibility, scalability, provisioning, automation and monitoring. The goal of a private cloud is not sell “as-a-service” offerings to external customers but instead to gain the benefits of cloud architecture without giving up the control of maintaining your own data centre.
Private clouds can be expensive with typically modest economies of scale. This is usually not an option for the average small-to-medium sized business and is most typically put to use by large enterprises. Private clouds are driven by concerns around security and compliance and keeping assets within the firewall.
They require a significant level of engagement from both management and IT departments to virtualise the business environment and also mean evaluating how existing resources should be reallocated in the cloud. Private Clouds offer scope for advanced security, high availability or fault tolerant solutions that are not possible in a Public Cloud. However, as they are effectively ‘stand-alone’ solutions in their own right, building a Private Cloud still involves significant investment, and does not therefore deliver the shorter-term economies that Public Cloud can.
Businesses that must comply with strict regulations or that have highly critical applications will choose internal Private Clouds. With a private cloud, businesses install their own server and storage hardware but have the flexibility to shift workloads among servers as usage spikes or they deploy new applications.
As the name suggests, a hybrid cloud comprises both private (internal) and public (external) cloud services. Typically a business might run an application primarily on a private cloud, but rely on a public cloud to accommodate spikes in usage. Customised rules and policies govern areas such as security and the underlying infrastructure, with tasks allocated to internal or external clouds as necessary.
Hybrid clouds are suited to e-commerce. Because e-commerce sites must respond to fluctuations in traffic both on a daily and seasonal cycle, the actual work of processing the orders can benefit from the elastic characteristics of public cloud resources. On the other hand, legal regulations strictly govern how personal and payment information can be handled and this type of sensitive data is more secure if it stays “on-premise” in the Private Cloud. This hybrid solution represents the best of both worlds as it places the order processing and transactional front-end of the shop where it can take advantage of resource scalability, while it keeps the payment and account management services strictly private. Examples of companies that use a hybrid cloud are Adobe Creative Cloud and Sage 200 online.
To find out more and read the detailed analysis of the benefits of cloud computing versus on-premise business applications. Download whitepaper on cloud versus on-premise.