Public Cloud vs Private Cloud vs Hybrid Cloud
The term “cloud computing” has rapidly gained traction in post-COVID times, as enterprises realize that remote working will be the norm of the future. While many organizations were already there, either partially or in full, those were not, started exploring options of moving to the Cloud. The Cloud is nothing but a set of on-demand computing resources that is made available to enterprises for their data storage. This is made possible over the Internet, with data centers and applications made available to authorized staff to conduct their daily activities.
The various operational challenges that the steadily gaining popularity of Cloud computing threw up ranged from security, privacy, performance, scalability, service models, and so on. In the quest to resolve these issues, Cloud computing has emerged stronger by evolving and rising to the challenges through innovative approaches. As a result, the Cloud mainly evolved into three different categories known as Public, Private, and Hybrid. Depending on the needs of each enterprise, they were free to choose the kind of Cloud model that suited them best. Cloud computing service providers have also backed each category with flexible costing models that now make it easier for enterprises wanting to move to the Cloud.
This is one of the most popular models of Cloud computing that most small and medium enterprises choose to go with. This model works out in terms of services being offered as well as the cost at which they come. Free services are being offered in this model as well, and many individuals choose to opt for it. At the simplest level, people choosing to store their data on Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. is the best example. They are also able to collaboratively as sharing is also allowed and it makes for easy access for all involved.
The top Public Cloud providers are Amazon Web Services (AWS), MS Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), IBM, VMware, Cisco, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce, SAP, Adobe, etc. These providers offer a combination of services ranging from free, subscription based, usage-based, freemium, premium, and so on. The services provided under these models cover email, applications, storage, development/OS/infrastructure environments, etc.
In this model, the service provider maintains a pool of Cloud computing resources that are shared across the people who opt for the services. This model provides access to instant scalability that suits dynamic business enterprises. Owing to the low cost and the wide range of services provided, this model happens to be the most popular one currently.
The advantages of Public Cloud are as follows:
- Low investment in IT infrastructure and maintenance of the same.
- Flexibility to manage dynamic workloads by scaling up or down as per business needs.
- Agility through constant accessibility across the globe for distributed workforces.
- Reliability because of very low chances of infrastructure failures.
- Security is assured to some extent, as all providers are bound by regulations to meet certain safety standards and measures, as dictated by the laws of the land.
The Public Cloud is most suited for small to mid-sized enterprises, but only those that may not be running mission-critical services. The TCO of using a Public Cloud can become exponential for mid to large enterprises, in the long run. Some amount of security concerns always exist with a Public Cloud; hence, it is not the best choice for enterprises that deal with sensitive data and are bound by strict regulatory compliances like finance, health, or defense. Also, if you want to ensure full control over the data, its storage, and maintenance, then Public Cloud is not the one for you. Public Clouds have issues with authentication and identity management at times, raising concerns over data security and privacy.
They are best suited to run temporary applications for short durations, and also for common services within small organizations like mail, storage, collaboration, CMS, CRM, and so on. Also, for predictable communication needs, they serve best for running apps and services for everyday business operations. They could also suit for running software development and test environments.
The safety and security concerns of the Public Cloud, especially for enterprises dealing with sensitive information gave rise to the concept of Private Cloud. As the name suggests, the Cloud here is dedicated to one organization, and hence is private. Though the term private suggests exclusive access to one organization, it need not necessarily be physically present within the premises of the organization. The Private could be hosted by a Cloud service provider; but the data center and the Cloud computing resources will be isolated from the other users, with more security, control, and assured compliances.
Large companies with specific IT needs usually opt for Private Clouds so that they can customize the Cloud access and storage as per their needs. They will have control over compliance measures to be put in place and complex business requirements can be met. It offers greater visibility but will come with the onus of maintaining safety and security and at a cost. This is highly efficient but comes with a high TCO.
The advantages of Private Cloud are as follows:
- It gives you more flexibility for customizing the Cloud environment as per your business needs and complexities.
- Dedicated and highly secure environments, with no resources shared with any entity outside the organization other than on a need basis.
- Offers high scalability without compromise on security, as everything in your control.
- Stringent compliances can be put in place to meet complex business needs.
- Can be set up to meet high SLAs and performance parameters as required.
A Private Cloud is best suited for highly regulated industries and government agencies where the information dealt with is highly sensitive. Organizations that are dependent on the high performance of apps and need strong control over the security and infrastructure would do well to go with a Private Cloud. Large technology companies that deal with mission-critical and confidential information also choose to have a Private Cloud. The efficiency of applications with high performance is another parameter that prompts organizations to go with Private Cloud. Of course, all organizations that choose to go with a Private Cloud can afford to invest in it, as for them, the cost of not doing so may prove to be much greater.
Interestingly, the needs of many enterprises fall in between the Public and the Private Clouds. They seek to have the best of both worlds, and thus came the concept of a Hybrid Cloud. A Hybrid Cloud comes with great flexibility to move between the Public and the Private Cloud, based on the dynamic business needs. The apps and data in a Hybrid Cloud are maintained within an integrated environment that is designed and arrived at based on various factors like privacy, security, scalability, performance, cost, and at times, a few others.
High-volume, low-security needs are operated using a Public Cloud, and specific mission-critical apps bound by stringent compliances run on a Private Cloud. A ‘Cloud Burst’ happens when there is a sudden huge spike in any of these apps that necessitate the need for extra resources. This is where the flexibility comes in, for moving to the Public Cloud for the extra resources in the on-demand mode only for that short duration. The whole environment is designed for optimum performance and efficiency with the required amounts of scalability. This model can prove to be expensive with a high TCO, depending on the specific needs.
The advantages of a Hybrid Cloud are as follows:
- A high amount of flexibility to scale and distribute workloads between the Private and the Public Cloud without compromising on security.
- A high amount of reliability, as the services are distributed across the multiple data centers of the environment.
- A greater amount of control over the data, apps, and the environment as dictated by sensitive organizational needs.
- Some amount of cost-effectiveness as you pay for extra usage only as and when used. Even regular non-sensitive workloads may be distributed on the Public Cloud while the other sensitive ones could be retained on the Private Cloud.
- A phased Cloud migration approach can be taken to ensure gradual workload shifting without affecting any business operations.
A Hybrid Cloud is most suited for organizations that have significantly varying workloads, with a combination of security and privacy; precisely the best of both worlds scenario, that they wanted. Organizations that have multiple verticals wherein a few verticals need stringent regulatory compliances, while a few others may not, can opt for this. Organizations providing SAAS may also benefit from additional security, performance, and more by choosing to go with a Hybrid Cloud. Hybrid Clouds can complicate the Cloud environment and security needs, and this needs to be understood and addressed thoroughly before it can be implemented.