Private versus Public Clouds

Private versus Public Clouds

There is a great deal of hype in the IT community over “Cloud Computing”.   With Cloud Computing the data centre moves to a service provider basis, in which all applications and data are supplied using Internet technologies.

A Cloud can be either a public cloud or private cloud.

A public cloud is provided by external cloud service providers.  The business outsources the client data centre to a cloud services provider, (“CSP”) who provides cloud solutions for business to several clients on the same physical infrastructure.

A private cloud is the same as a public cloud but is dedicated to a single organisation.  A private cloud can be provided by an external CSP or internally using the organisation’s own data centre.  The CSP can dedicate one of many installations to a single client, or be a CSP who has one client only.   An increasingly popular choice is to host cloud technologies internally inside an organisation’s firewall, supported by the organisation’s own IT services or an outsourced service provider.

If you have included cloud computing in your strategic planning, whether you migrate to a public or private environment is a crucial decision.  It is one that critically depends on the service levels you need to provide to your users, how secure you need to keep your applications and data, and the commitment senior management will provide to the migration project.  As always, implementation budget and operating costs will play a major role.

Private versus Public Clouds

Public or Private Clouds

The first step is to decide whether a public cloud or private cloud is more appropriate to your business environment.  Several key considerations immediately spring to mind:

  1. The type of business you operate.If you provide 24/7/365 mission-critical systems to an organisation, moving to an external cloud platform with all the potential risks may not be an option.   For instance, online shopping sites, airline reservation platforms, manufacturing planning systems are impossible to replicate manually and prolonged downtime can put your business at risk.
  1. Applications MigrationThe ability of your current applications to migrate to a cloud solution for business will be a consideration.  Many integrated business management systems like SAP and PeopleSoft provide cloud solutions for business.  If you have an integrated system of this type, then migration might not be that much of an issue.

    If you are looking at a root and branch upgrade of your IT environment, adopting cloud technologies gives you the opportunity to upgrade your business systems to a new cloud solution for business.  A challenge for sure, and one you need to consider carefully.

  1. Data Security and Intellectual Property ProtectionFor many organisations protection of data is of vital importance, and may even be a legal requirement.  For example, lawyers might not want to take the security risk of having client case files hosted on a public cloud.

    Intellectual Property (“IP”) protection can be a motivator.  As an example, a pharmaceutical company will not want research data to be accessible from the Internet.  Internal Email is certainly not something for public consumption.

    Your business principals will have read and heard horror stories in the media and from professional colleagues about data loss, data theft and all kinds of hacking.  They will need to be convinced that an off-site public cloud managed by a cloud services provider gives sufficient security over data and IP.   That will be a major task.

Your business principals will have read and heard horror stories in the media and from professional colleagues about data loss, data theft and all kinds of hacking.  They will need to be convinced that an off-site public cloud managed by a cloud services provider gives sufficient security over data and IP.   That will be a major task.

There was a significant cost advantage to public clouds in the first version of cloud computing, largely because of the capital cost of upgrading hardware and software to establish the private cloud environment.   However, applying public cloud techniques to private cloud deployments is rapidly reducing the cost.   This gives an opportunity to realise cloud benefits in internal data centres.

So much so that adoption of internal private clouds in on the increase, and is becoming the de-facto choice of many organisations.   As an indication, private clouds are now around 77% of all cloud migrations, as set out in RightScale’s 2016 State of the Cloud Report.

Choosing a public cloud or a private cloud depends on the type of business you are in, the criticality of keeping prying eyes away from your applications and data and your available budget to support the migration to a cloud solution for businessPrivate clouds seem to be winning the battle because of increased security levels and the ability of the business to control the operation of the cloud.