Public vs. Private Cloud Computing Basics

All You Need To Know About Cloud Computing
The phrase cloud computing is quite controversial and numerous debates and arguments have sprung up because of it. The truth of the matter is that there is still a lot of confusion surrounding cloud computing. However, one thing is clear across the board; cloud computing is having a great impact on our regular work practices. KPMG conducted a study in 2012 that revealed 81% of businesses were either evaluating cloud services, planned a cloud implementation or had already implemented a cloud solution. Regardless of how business choose to do it; the fact still remains that they will eventually end up in the cloud.

The benefits provided by the cloud cannot be ignored, companies that have adopted cloud computing enjoy flexibility, scalability, and agility coupled with an enhanced workload distribution; all this is achieved without increasing the IT budget. The main source of confusion among system administrators is the best solution between Private and Public cloud. The decision to use a public offering, or build a private cloud or go with a combination of both(hybrid) boils down to several factors. Issues such as required service levels, usage patterns for the workloads, regulatory issues, business criticality of the applications they want to move to the cloud, and how integrated the application must be with other enterprise functions.

Understanding each of the options available is the first step to making an informed decision on the best solution.

Public Cloud Service Vs Private Cloud Service
In order to have a better understanding of which service is best suited for your business, it is important to identify the major difference between public and private clouds.

A public cloud basically consists of a service or a set of services that have been bought by an organization and then delivered through the internet through a third party provider. The client’s application and IT infrastructure (data center and servers) are hosted by the cloud service provider at the cloud provider’s premise. The infrastructure is shared between several businesses; however, the applications and data usage of each application is logically segregated in order to ensure that only authorized users have access.
A private cloud can be referred to as an enterprise cloud or internal cloud; it as an extension of an enterprise’s traditional datacenter that has been optimized to provide processing power and storage capacity for a variety of functions. As the name suggests, a private cloud is a non-shared resource. Since it resides at the client’s location, the client has more control over the infrastructure.

The Pros and Cons

Making an informed decision doesn’t end with knowing the basic definitions, you also have to weigh out the pros and cons of each.
Benefits of the Public Cloud
Some of the most common examples of public cloud services include services like webmail, storage services, online office applications, and cloud based server hosting. Public cloud services are ideal for organizations that don’t need high levels of security or infrastructure.

  • High scalability: The main benefit of public cloud services is their virtually unlimited scalability. Since the resources are offered on demand, any changes in activity level can easily be handled. Public clouds usually involve a vast network of servers; this means that even if a single datacenter completely fails, the load is simply distributed among the remaining servers thus eliminating ‘server downtime’.
  • Saves Time: Setting up and maintaining an in house server takes a considerable amount of time. With public clouds, since everything is virtualized, configuring a cloud takes minutes. Also – there are several servers and data centers being used so if one fails another is activated.
  • Low Maintenance: A public cloud is hosted off site; this means that the responsibility of maintaining the server falls on the Public cloud server provide and not the internal IT employees.

Drawbacks of the Public Cloud
When it comes to public cloud services, the major area of concern is security. This does not mean they have zero security; as a matter of fact, most public cloud providers have put excellent measures in place to ensure data is secure. However, organizations with extremely sensitive information find it very difficult to trust it with a third party.
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Image courtesy of geek wire

In summary, other disadvantage include;

  • Lack of control: Since a third-party is in charge of the system, control is limited
  • Regulatory:Some regulations prevent companies (such as legal, pharma) and government organizations from storing data in third party servers
  • Slow speeds: Public cloud services are provided via the internet; this means the DTR is limited to the ISP.

Benefits of the Private cloud
The private cloud works on the same basic principles as a public cloud, the major difference is that a private cloud is restricted to a single organization. This means that it offers a solution to some of the drawbacks of the public cloud.

  • Enhance Security: Private clouds offer higher levels of security mainly because the data storage, hardware and network are designed to ensure security levels that can’t be accessed by people outside the organizations data center.
  • More control over resources: Since all the infrastructure is on site, the organization is in charge of maintaining and monitoring their data as well as infrastructure. Increased control also allows the organization to tailor the cloud to its own preferences.
  • Higher performance: A private cloud is within an organizations intranet; this means access speeds are higher.

Drawbacks of the Private cloud
The major shortcoming of private clouds is the high costs associated with it. To begin with, the organization will have to heavily invest in hardware; on top of that administration and maintenance personnel will have to be hired leading to higher maintenance and administration costs.
In summary, other disadvantages include;

  • Scalability – depending upon the software solution used and deployment architecture, scaling might be less fluid than public cloud. BTW, Solutions like FileCloud provide excellent scaling as good as public cloud.
  • On-site maintenance

A Hybrid Solution is also an option to consider
The hybrid solution offers a neutral point for Public vs. Private debate. The important cooperate date can be securely stored in a private cloud while access to the data is controlled by public cloud solution (SaaS). This will offer the best of both worlds.
In conclusion, the best solution majorly depends on the nature of your business or organization.

Cost is a major driver that could tip one solution over other. We will take up the topic in a separate post.

Author: Gabriel Lando