Cloud computing is all about revolutionising the way businesses work by providing access to the infrastructure needed to run sophisticated applications with flexibility. It is no longer simply an IT strategy, but a business strategy. Yet there’s no single way to go about it.
The choices available are confusing – is a private, public or hybrid cloud the best solution for your business? All three cloud deployment options carry similar overarching benefits – reliability, performance, scalability and cost-effectiveness – but some options are inherently better suited to certain types of businesses,
A private cloud, also known as enterprise cloud, can exist on or off-premises. Either way, computing resources are used exclusively by one organisation and maintained on a dedicated private network. This means the business is responsible for management and maintenance but can easily customise its resources to meet specific IT needs.
Private cloud affords a higher level of visibility and control through exclusive use of resources without many of the security concerns – real or perceived – that tend to be associated with the public cloud.
It is typically considered an expensive option because, over time, the infrastructure components such as the computer nodes need to be replaced. Scalability tends to also be impeded by the need to make further infrastructure investments with growth.
Private cloud works best for large businesses that need advanced data centre technologies, companies that require highly robust security with direct control over IT workloads and underlying infrastructure and highly regulated industries.
With public cloud, a third-party provider is responsible for management and maintenance and your data is stored in their data centre. All infrastructure, i.e. hardware and software, is owned by the provider and shared with other organisations which enables the provider to leverage economies of scale.
Public cloud offers high elasticity and easy scalability at very low cost, which is why it’s by far the most popular choice. The reduced complexity and responsibility resulting from utilising public cloud services means less pressure on your IT resources and, with flexible pricing based on usage, your organisation can focus IT investments elsewhere.
The cost of ownership with public cloud can rise exponentially with large-scale usage and in addition, each organisation would need to assess the security compliance offerings of the public cloud provider in relation to their own requirements.
Public cloud works best for organisations with varying resource requirements and software development and test environments.
Hybrid Cloud = Best of Both
As the name implies, hybrid cloud combines both the private and public clouds to offer the best of both worlds. Applications and data can be moved between the two environments for greater flexibility and agility. For example, you can run IT workloads in your private cloud, augmented by public cloud resources for additional capacity to cater for spikes in demand.
This option ensures reliability (with services spread across multiple data centres), improved security without compromising on scalability for less sensitive IT workloads, and the flexibility for policy-driven deployments for distributing workloads between private and public infrastructure based on requirements.
As a subset of hybrid cloud, organisations can also leverage a multicloud approach which allows an organization to consume services from multiple public cloud providers offering them more flexibility.
A hybrid cloud environment requires thorough integration and total compatibility across the organisation’s cloud infrastructure which introduces complexity that most organisations are struggling to address.
Ultimately, your decision to go with a public, private or hybrid cloud deployment depends on a range of factors which are unique to your organisation. Therefore, it is important to carefully weigh the strengths and drawbacks of each before deciding and it is recommended to get expert guidance along the way.
Innocent Kemigisha is the Head of Hybrid Cloud at Dimension Data East and West Africa.