Cloud Hopping

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Understanding Public, Private and Hybrid Cloud Infrastructures

As we have previously discussed, cloud computing technologies permit the sharing of resources in a manner that dramatically simplifies infrastructure planning.

To reap the benefits of the Cloud you’ll need to determine which cloud architecture is right for you. The type of cloud you deploy will depend on the nature of your data, as well as the different degrees of security and management requirements you have.

Here’s a primer on the fundamentals of public, private and hybrid clouds.

Public Clouds

Public clouds are owned and operated by third party service providers and are accessed over the Internet. Infrastructure costs are distributed across all users, affording each individual client the benefit of operating a low cost computing environment that embraces the pay as you go option. The public cloud is also advantageous in that is typically larger in scale than a private enterprise cloud, allowing on demand and effortless scalability.

Instances in which this type of cloud would be applicable are as follows:

  • Many people within your enterprise require access and use of standard workplace applications, such as email
  • You need to store, test and develop application code
  • You run SaaS (Software as a Service) applications that requires reliable hosting
  • You need to scale your capacity in accordance with peak and off-peak times, or for high demand periods such as running an ad campaign
  • You need a shared infrastructure to collaborate on projects

Public clouds are characterised by offering the greatest level of efficiency in shared resources. Businesses using the public cloud operate within the same infrastructure; they share a pool of resources with others. These shared resources are managed and supported by the service provider.

Criticisms of this model centre around data privacy, and availability variances.

Private Clouds

Private clouds are those that are fashioned specifically for an individual enterprise, enabling them to host their own infrastructure in the cloud. This mode of cloud computing addresses concerns revolving around data privacy and control.

There are two types of private cloud; each having their own affect on capital and configurability. You will implement either an internally or externally hosted private cloud. The former is managed within a company’s own data centre (or office), providing more commonplace processes and protection. It is usually limited in size and scalability, and incurs the capital and operational costs of owning and managing physical resources. The latter is hosted off-site and managed by an external provider.

The private cloud is appropriate in the following circumstances:

  • If your business is in an industry that dictates strict data privacy and security measures
  • Your company wants a greater level of control over the infrastructure, and exclusive use of computing resources

Just like the public cloud, private clouds boast rapid failure recovery and the freedom to scale up or down dependant on demand. However, this model is typically a more expensive option because of the costs associated with operating dedicated infrastructure.

Hybrid Cloud

It has become apparent that what people are referring to in the term ‘private clouds’, also has characteristics in common with public clouds, and can thus be classed as ‘hybrid cloud’ architectures.

Hybrid clouds feature some benefits of both the pubic and private cloud models. This genre of cloud enables a company to either fully or partially leverage a third party provider, and use some externally provisioned, on-demand resources to bolster internal capacity.

For example, they could be implemented in the following situations:

  • To augment your private cloud with the resources of a public cloud; to manage unexpected surges in workload or provide additional capability
  • To be able to quickly provision additional infrastructure that is required only for short periods of time, such as setting up development and test environments
  • To ensure some critical data, such as a source code repository, is hosted off-site and effectively managed and backed up

The downside of a hybrid cloud environment is the need to manage multiple environments, and relationships with both internal and external stakeholders.

In summary, Public, Private and Hybrid cloud environments all offer viable solutions to your cloud computing needs. As you can see, each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Public clouds provide the greatest cost savings, but of these options, the lesser degree of security and control. Private clouds provide just the opposite; expenses are greater due to hardware, software and maintenance costs. However, security and control surpass the public model. Hybrid clouds present the best of both words, although they can be more complex to manage.

Our advice: don’t go for a quick fix — do your homework and chose the model that best fits your needs.