Migrating all or part of your IT architecture to the cloud is the right move for many businesses, but it isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. It’s also far from the last important decision you’ll have to make over the course of a cloud migration project. One of the other major decisions facing you is which cloud type to deploy: public, private, or hybrid. Each has its distinct advantages, which should be weighed relative to the goals and dynamics of your business. We’ve also outlined the unique considerations each of the three types merits to best prepare you for the road ahead.
Type 1: Public Cloud
The public cloud refers to cloud infrastructure and services that are owned by a third-party provider that delivers its resources to customers (other entities like yours) and their users via the internet. The provider is responsible for developing and managing all resources, freeing you up to focus on other business and IT priorities. Popular public cloud providers include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google.
Advantages of the Public Cloud
The public cloud is more popular than private cloud computing for a number of reasons: • You only pay for what you use, and you don’t have to invest in cloud infrastructure yourself. • Its vast resources are available on demand, making it a highly elastic and scalable option for businesses with fast-growing or unpredictable workload demands. • It has a huge network of servers, reducing the likelihood of serious outages. • It puts a massive library of business-advantageous technologies at your disposal, and more options are released every year. • It can make licensing management easier. Your public cloud provider can take care of licensing for you and bundle the cost into your monthly bill.
Public Cloud Considerations
At least initially, the monthly operating costs can be more expensive than other solutions. (Keep in mind, you’re still saving on upfront capital expenses.) • There is a natural latency associated with accessing systems hosted off site. (That said, a good cloud specialist should be able to assess the way your applications behave and interact to find ways to mitigate that latency.) • It’s less customizable than other cloud types, and security firewalls and other protections may not meet the standards of certain highly regulated industries.
Type 2: Private Cloud
Moving to a private cloud is all about control, compliance, and security. It refers to a cloud that is privately owned and used by you alone. It can be located at your own data center or at a data center owned and maintained by a managed service provider (MSP) like PCI. Your private cloud is accessed by way of a private network instead of the internet.
Advantages of a Private Cloud BOD There are many reasons businesses choose a private cloud solution. Here are some of them: • No resources are shared, which means more control and a more secure environment, making it a good option for highly regulated industries that need to demonstrate stringent security compliance.
- It has the potential to be as elastic and scalable as the public cloud.
- It offers more control and more opportunities for customization.
- You are not subject to the terms and conditions of third-party cloud services providers.
Private Cloud Considerations
Unlike the public cloud, which offers “ready-to-wear” solutions that can be up and running in minutes, it takes significantly more time to get new systems online via a private cloud.
- Somebody has to run and maintain the hardware, which can be a significant undertaking. You can do the work in house (requiring an internal team with a high level of expertise) or you can outsource the work to an MSP.
- Systems and protocols hosted on a private cloud often don't have the robust features that the public cloud offers because of the huge investment in hardware and development that would require. To achieve an equal measure of scalability is possible but requires a significant expenditure of resources.
Type 3: Hybrid Cloud
The term hybrid cloud refers to an architecture that distributes some workloads to the public cloud and others to a private cloud or on-premises hardware, depending on considerations like cost, security, and performance. For example, highly sensitive systems like an electronic medical records (EMR) database may be deployed through a private cloud to better ensure its security, while less critical systems may be more safely hosted on the public cloud to save on costs and afford the company scalability. A hybrid model also makes sense for businesses that rely on a proprietary application or operating system not supported by the public cloud. If the software can’t feasibly be replaced by a cloud-supported alternative, that component of the business’s computing system can remain on its onsite server while everything else is migrated.
Advantages of a Hybrid Cloud
Hybrid clouds offers the best of both worlds, including security, cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and control. It is an especially good option for businesses that have proprietary applications that reside on hardware that does not currently exist in the public cloud. A hybrid cloud allows those applications to continue to live on on-premise hardware, so you don’t have to incur the expense of rewriting the application for the cloud.
Hybrid Cloud Considerations
- Initial set-up costs tend to run higher than a public cloud solution due to the fact that some hardware and systems may remain onsite. • Steps need to be taken to ensure the security of data stored onsite as it interacts with systems hosted in the cloud.
- Asking systems that are running on different infrastructures and at different speeds to interact can result in slower performance. A cloud specialist can help you design an architecture that avoids or mitigates performance issues like this.
Choosing a Cloud Type
At PCI, partnering with clients to build solutions that take full advantage of the cloud is our business. In the early stages of a project, when we’re helping our clients decide which cloud type makes the most sense for their unique circumstances, we start with one important question: Where do you see your company in the next five years? The intent of the question is to gain a thorough understanding of where our clients aim to go. Are you expecting to grow? Are you looking to expand overseas? Are you opening new divisions? Are you downsizing and streamlining processes?
This roadmap highly influences the design of the solution we arrive at together, and it’s one of the most important factors to keep in mind as you design your cloud architecture. Of course, plenty of other factors and variables should inform your design.
Want to learn more? Check out The Ultimate Cloud Migration Checklist to learn what a move to the cloud will entail.