Public, Private, Hybrid: Understanding Your Cloud Options

quoteAs cloud technology continues to advance, offering more robust services and options for enterprise use, many businesses are taking advantage of the solution to enhance their data management systems, increase mobility and improve their network performance.

Not all clouds are alike, however. Business leaders need to consider their organizations’ requirements and choose from one of the three solutions that fit best; public, private or hybrid cloud.

Public Clouds

public cloudWith the public cloud, a third-party provider manages servers and infrastructures that accommodate the data and application services of multiple organizations. In other words, this architecture is shared between a number of companies, which is why many business leaders have some security concerns about moving their sensitive information to the public cloud. This system can still be highly secure, provided that the servers, hardware and networks for data transfers are managed correctly.

The benefits of the public cloud include its affordability and flexibility. Offering pay-as-you-go options that enable businesses to scale services according to their changing data needs, the public cloud makes it easy for companies to get up and running, especially when it comes to addressing temporary data needs, ad hoc expansions and other fluctuations in their system demands. Companies that want to get their services running quickly without needing to abide by heavy regulatory guidelines or coordinate a great deal of integration often take advantage of the public cloud. It’s particularly popular for services like messaging, customer relationship management, HR and data archiving.

Private Clouds

private cloudThe private cloud offers the greatest degree of privacy and security controls, since each organization is allocated its own server and infrastructure, which is owned and maintained by a third-party provider. That way, companies can benefit from off-site storage while still keeping their data completely separate from other businesses’ systems. This setup also offers the most predictable availability and performance, but it’s not as rapidly adaptable as the public cloud in terms of storage scalability.

Organizations with large infrastructure needs most frequently utilize private cloud environments. They can be more cost-effective and easier to manage than private architecture built on-site, but they are still a significant investment. For companies with highly critical applications and sensitive data, the enhanced security options are well worth it. Industries with regulated data – such as the healthcare, financial and pharmaceutical sectors – tend to utilize private cloud services.

Hybrid Clouds

hybrid cloudAs the name implies, the hybrid cloud offers a combination of public and private cloud solutions. Some servers are shared among several organizations as a public cloud, offering scalability and greater cost effectiveness, whereas others are designated solely for one company, acting as a private cloud. With this option, many businesses split their data resources among public and private solutions based on the degree of security they require. For example, a business might run most of its operations in the public cloud, but send all customer payment data to the private cloud for added security.

This solution is highly customizable. Companies can primarily use a private cloud, but turn to public cloud resources to accommodate heavy traffic periods. Other businesses might use a hybrid option to add onto their private cloud with public resources, leaving their mission-critical apps and data requiring extra encryption in the private cloud while drawing on the public cloud to improve their network performance.

Hybrid clouds are attractive for a number of purposes, especially since they can be tailored to a company’s unique storage and security needs. They’re a useful resource for disaster recovery and business continuity planning by making it easy to replicate and restore environments.