It was not that long ago when the word “cloud” referred only to the visible mass of condensed water vapor floating in the sky. Today, it’s often used to describe almost anything on the internet. However, in the IT world, it refers to the physical and virtual infrastructure to host applications and store data and there is increasing pressure to “move to the cloud” because of the tremendous benefits. But which cloud is right for your business?
Well, it depends on what your business does. Do you have a lot of sensitive data that needs protecting? You’ll probably want a private cloud. Does your business do a lot of email or file sharing between employees? Maybe a public cloud would be a better fit. Or, maybe you need both.
Public clouds have their resources shared between customers, and are great for those looking to try out the benefits of the cloud or have an application that is coded to take advantage of the massive infrastructure resources a public cloud can provide. A common myth about public clouds is that because they are public, that means they aren’t secure. This is not necessarily true. Public clouds have come a long way, and many providers strive to keep up with the latest security technology. However, if your organization requires security to comply with federal regulations or are hosting truly mission-critical applications, you may need to look to a private cloud instead. Public clouds can store a variety of applications including CRM software, email, and websites and is typically best suited for applications which can afford to have downtime. There are plenty of companies who use public clouds, including Dropbox and Netflix.
Whereas a public cloud is spread across several companies, a private cloud is dedicated to a single business. You still get many of the same benefits as a public cloud, such as scalability and paying only for what you use, but if your business has security or privacy regulations to comply with, high uptime demands or other requirements that can’t be spread across a public cloud, then a private cloud may be a better fit. Because the hardware in a private cloud is dedicated solely for your organization, there are no unknown variables when it comes to who else might be sharing your resources—no one else is. This is particularly useful for complying with regulations such as HIPAA. Private clouds can be fully managed by a third-party provider, or you can manage them yourself if you desire.
Hybrid clouds, as it might be guessed, use a little bit of both. It uses a mix of public and private cloud and sits on the spectrum between privately hosted and shared hardware. A hybrid cloud solution also makes sense for those who have certain mission-critical applications that must be hosted in a private cloud, but other applications that do not need the same expensive attention.
The hybrid cloud is particularly useful for businesses whose workloads vary drastically at various times. This type of deployment is called cloud bursting, and examples of organizations who benefit from it include retail companies who need extra resources during peak usage moments, such as holiday shopping seasons or clearance sale weekends. Another example of a hybrid cloud solution is a healthcare organization who needs to store patient data in a secure, compliant private cloud but can store its public-facing applications in a public one.