What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing allows us to access an infrastructure via the internet (“the cloud”) that delivers computing services such as data storage, networking capabilities, servers (both physical and virtual) and more, without having to install and maintain these resources on-site. It has been a cornerstone of the digital evolution.
The most popular examples of cloud computing are Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)—most of which you can choose whether to set up in a public, private or hybrid cloud form.
The key benefits of cloud computing
Usually operating on a pay-as-you-go or subscription pricing tiered model, one of the key attractions for businesses is the cost effectiveness and ease of scalability that comes with the cloud. In fact, the 2020 survey results by IDG Communications, Inc. showed that 92% of businesses have their IT environments in the cloud to some extent today, with that figure expected to go to 95% before the end of 2021.
What is a Public Cloud?
The public cloud is the most popular type of cloud computing. It is where cloud resources such as hardware software and any other supporting infrastructure are owned and managed by a third party, cloud service provider. Microsoft Azure is an example of a public cloud. Businesses that use a public cloud can then access these services through a web browser.
Benefits of a public cloud
Cost Effective – flexible pricing options based on requirements and usage mean that you only pay for what you need and use. This avoids the expense involved in purchasing and installing hardware or software that you may use infrequently or end up not using at all.
Cut Costs – a continuation of the above point simply to illustrate that using a public cloud can not only prove more affordable, it can also cut out substantial IT spend saving you money. With the management and maintenance of the infrastructure being looked after by the third party provider, you will greatly reduce the need for in-house IT personal and expertise.
Focus on Business – with the responsibility for maintenance in the hands of your cloud provider, this frees up time and resources which can be better focused on doing what you do well and serving your customers.
Scalability – the flexibility and on-demand resources of using a public cloud caters to seasonal or unpredictable business needs and workload demands.
Reliability – a public cloud offers greater reliability meaning there is very little chance of failure interrupting your services and in the event of loss of data, caused by some error within the organisation, data recovery is a much simpler task.
What is a private cloud?
A private cloud is a type of cloud computing where all of the cloud infrastructure is dedicated and accessible to one organisation exclusively.
This private cloud is typically hosted on the premises of the organisation but it can be hosted by an independent third party cloud provider in an offsite data centre. The computing resources are isolated and delivered via a secure private network which is not shared with other customers.
While a private cloud offers similar benefits to the public cloud, here are a few more to consider.
Benefits of a private cloud
Customisation – every business has different requirements depending in the size, industry and regulatory requirements. A key benefit of a private cloud is the ability to customise the cloud environment allowing for greater flexibility when meeting the storage and networking needs of the business.
Control and compliance – many companies have very strict compliance policies and regulations that they must adhere to. In this instance, the private cloud is a much smarter option than a public cloud as it allows for greater control and customisation, as mentioned above.
Security – a private cloud adds another layer entirely to the level of security offered by a public cloud. Operating across multiple servers in a virtual environment means that a private cloud is extremely resilient to failures. The fact that the servers are in use exclusively by one organisation only, also hugely reduces the chances of a security breach.
Mobility – cloud applications are accessible from anywhere and from any device. So long as you have an internet connection you will be able to access the cloud. In a remote working world, this ensures that business continuity and productivity is not effected.
What is a hybrid cloud?
A hybrid cloud is a cloud computing model that combines both public and private cloud environments. It connects an organisation’s private and public cloud services to create a single flexible infrastructure solution that runs all programs and applications.
This is a perfect solution for organisations that want to take advantage of the cost effectiveness of a public cloud whilst also complying with any company protocols or regulatory requirements that may demand greater control and security of data and sensitive information.
Public and private cloud services share some basic features and benefits, but these are at very different levels. Costs and resources required vary greatly. The goal of the hybrid model is to enable an organisation to meet its business and technical objectives more efficiently than a public or private cloud would on its own.
Benefits of a hybrid cloud
Greater flexibility – offering the best of both worlds, the hybrid model allow companies to scale up or down depending on requirements and demand at any given moment. The hybrid model allows them to take advantage of the flexibility and innovation of a public model while holding onto the security and added protections offered by a private cloud.
Greater control – with greater flexibility comes greater control. A hybrid cloud model allows an organisation to choose the optimal cloud for each application or workload. This means data can move freely between the two clouds, as the situation dictates.
Edge computing – Edge computing aims to bring the computing power and data storage closer to the physical location of either the user or the source of the data. The closer the location the faster and more reliable experience can be offered. Hybrid cloud computing is evolving to include edge computing.
Ultimately, the decision to go with either public, private or a hybrid cloud will come down to factors such as requirements, size, industry and available resources. There is no one-size fits all model so it will be up to a business to do it’s due diligence by assessing its needs and making the choice that will best support them to achieve their future goals and objectives.