Public, Private and Hybrid: Understanding Confusing Cloud Jargon

At its most basic, “the cloud” is nothing more than a way to access files stored on a computer in location A from a computer in location B. Most modern IT departments spread their technology resources across several different solutions, sometimes in the cloud and sometimes on-premises. Occasionally, these checkerboard approaches become so complex that they end up costing businesses dearly when it’s time to make a change.

Moving common IT processes and applications to the cloud allows companies to outsource a major portion of the work necessary to keep the whole operation running. With the cloud, things like routine maintenance and updates are taken care of by the vendor (location A) rather than by the end user (location B).

However, if you’re switching to a cloud strategy you still need to decide which type of cloud is best for you: public, private or hybrid.

Public Cloud

The public cloud has long been by far the biggest player in cloud computing, largely because it’s the most accessible and affordable. The public cloud introduces a low and consistent total cost of ownership, since the services are offered to a wide range of customers who often don’t require too much administrative freedom. As such, the public cloud is the favorite model for most small businesses.

Some public cloud services are as quick and painless as subscribing to a service and using it straight out of the box. The technical benefits are numerous, including excellent accessibility, scalability, ease of use and a minimal deployment time. Common examples of public cloud services include online storage solutions such as iCloud or Dropbox.

Private Cloud

While the public cloud is ideal for taking care of everyday business IT routines, few businesses rely on it entirely. After all, the public cloud is generally designed to meet the needs of the many rather than suit the more specific requirements of a few individual businesses. The public cloud is akin to a hotel. You may have a private room, but you don’t own the building. With the private cloud, you own the whole shebang and get to determine everything from paint colors to data access privileges.

Naturally, a private cloud is more secure and offers the highest degree of flexibility and control for the end user. For applications where security and control are critical, a private cloud lets you retain the customizations of your onsite IT, while reaping the benefits of the cloud’s anywhere access.

Hybrid Cloud

Yup, you guessed it – the hybrid cloud is a mix of the two, and it’s rapidly gaining traction in the world of small- and medium-sized businesses. In fact, around 90% of enterprises are planning to make the shift toward the hybrid cloud model in the next few years. Hybrid clouds include a range of public and private options to provide a high degree of control over where and how your data is stored.

The only drawback of opting for the hybrid cloud option is that it requires keeping track of multiple platforms to make sure they all work seamlessly together. Hybrid clouds tend to work best when you have the resources to keep a close eye on multiple solutions. A managed services provider or a team of in-house IT technicians can stay on top of it, but it’s unwise to juggle more than one platform if you’re hosting any sort of sensitive data there (trust us, you probably are).

Bonus: “Other” Clouds

Several other cloud computing deployment models also exist, although they tend to have far more specific target audiences. For example, the community cloud is much the same as a private cloud, except that it is shared across two or more organizations that have common goals. It may be managed internally or by a third-party provider.

The question is no longer, “Should my business move to the cloud?” Now you need to start asking yourself, “Which cloud model makes the most sense for me?” Obviously, a hybrid cloud model is the best option, since it allows you to keep your most important IT resources stored and maintained privately while still being able to enjoy the flexibility of having your everyday business applications accessible through publicly available services. However, costs, compliance concerns and business needs will ultimately decide whether or not that makes sense.

Here at SpectrumWise, we help simplify the increasingly complex journey to the cloud by offering a full range of services, from backup to security to virtualization. If you’d like to find out how we can help your business, give us a call today.


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