If your business is considering taking advantage of cloud services (1), one of the key questions that will need to be asked will be whether the public or private cloud will serve it best. What are the big differences, and what factors will determine your own company's choice?
Could a public cloud be the best option?
This option involves services and infrastructure being provided offsite over the Internet – albeit with greater vulnerability than a private cloud – however, both are incredibly secure and security should not be the deciding factor.
Common instances in which a public cloud may be used include when you have a standard workload and all of your team members are doing very similar jobs, all of which would make it easier to keep your data, services and infrastructure in one solution. This compares to the hassle associated with many different solutions with differing authentication and security measures.
Your organisation may choose public cloud services due to a requirement for Software-as-a-Service (Saas) or 'on-demand' solutions, or where scalability is required. Recruitment companies, for instance, change in size dramatically according to business needs, with the cost soon adding up if they are forced to maintain a constant high capacity, even when their current business requirements do not require it.
A public cloud solution also makes plenty of sense for collaboration projects with providers, suppliers and customers. Let's face it – it's harder to give them external access to a private cloud.
Or might you be best served by a private cloud?
This form of cloud migration will enable your firm to access and maintain services and infrastructure in a private network.
A private cloud certainly offers superior security and control to a public cloud, but it is also considerably more expensive, necessitating your purchase and maintenance of all of the software and infrastructure – it is therefore only viable as a long-term solution (unlike the public cloud) as the investment is usually for a 25 year period. Ease of management is certainly not helped by the need for your IT team to be experts in the private cloud.
However, a private cloud may also be the most obvious choice when data and applications are very much what constitute your business, which makes the utmost security and control paramount. This option is also frequently favoured by large multinational companies and sectors that are subject to strict regulatory, security and data privacy regulations.
Bear in mind that some public cloud companies are now offering private versions of their public clouds, while some companies that previously only offered private cloud technologies are now making public versions available with the same capacities.
Don't overlook the hybrid cloud…
But there is another option – the hybrid cloud, with various public and private versions of this being available with multiple providers.
A hybrid cloud solution is ideal for keeping each aspect of your business in the most efficient possible environment. The downside, though, is the need to keep track of multiple different security platforms and ensure that all aspects of your business can communicate with each other.
Your business might be best served by a hybrid cloud solution if you wish to use an SaaS application but are concerned about security, with an SaaS vendor having the capability to create a private cloud for the exclusive use of your company, inside their network (firewall). Such a vendor will provide you with a virtual private network (VPN) for security purposes.
Another possibility that lends itself to a hybrid solution is your company offering services that have been tailored to different markets, in which case, you may use a public cloud to interact with clients but keep your data secured within a private cloud.
What does this all mean for your business?
In a nutshell – your firm has a great amount of choice, depending on such factors as company industry, size and required cloud specification. This enables you to work your company technology around your cloud strategy, instead of being forced to use an on-premise solution that you may encounter problems with.
Ask a reputable IT consultancy for advice on your own cloud migration, and how it can be tailored to both your short and longer-term business requirements.