It seems that today, everybody is using the cloud. 94% of enterprises already use a cloud service with 30% of all IT budgets being allocated to cloud computing. Cloud computing is already big in business, and is projected to keep growing over the next few years. It has already become the way things are done for a lot of businesses.
But the cloud isn’t just one thing. There are lots of different ways the cloud can be used, and it is generally split between two broad categories: public cloud services and private cloud services. So, today we’re going to break these down so you can choose the best one for you.
A public cloud is straightforward and is probably the one you’re most familiar with. Public Cloud is essentially the internet. You rent space from public servers from one of the major providers like Azure or AWS. This is usually for a monthly fee and features remote monitoring and management as well as remote access through mobile devices or off-site computers.
The public cloud offers dynamic scalability and you pay for what you use which allows you to scale your storage needs easily. Having a public cloud also gives you access to technical support through their customer services. Public clouds are also often run alongside third-party software, giving you access to a suit of software that you might otherwise not have.
Best cases for the public cloud
Small businesses who rely on off-site work are the best suited for a public cloud service. The ability to share documents and collaborate in real-time with employees are real benefits of this solution. Public clouds essentially represent infinite space, meaning that so long as you can afford the extra space, there is no upper limit on the amount of information you can have stored in the cloud. Need extra space for a project? Simply buy more server space whilst working on it, and then reduce the space needed when done.
The public cloud is a good option for smaller businesses that require flexibility at a reasonable price.
Downsides of the public cloud
- Security concerns — Whilst security concerns involving the cloud are usually overblown, your files are still technically being stored on the internet. Most providers offer managed security as part of their service offering, but it can be a concern for businesses handling sensitive data.
- Disaster recovery — Cloud services like Office 365 offer ‘unlimited archiving’, which sounds good, but is not suitable for quick disaster recovery as it takes time to unpackage the archived data. This can slow you down if the worst — a data breach or loss — should happen.
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A private cloud is standard storage hardware but configured to allow remote access. Essentially, rather than renting the space from a third party, you own the hardware and can configure it to your specific needs. This allows for direct control of the cloud, rather than relying on remote management and monitoring, as well as allowing you to configure the software.
By using a private cloud, you gain faster speeds for in-house work, as usually private clouds are faster than public ones. What’s more, you can configure virtual machines within your own cloud, allowing you to boost your computing power and effectiveness. The private cloud also gives you complete control over privacy and over access to documents, allowing you to be in control of who can access what.
Best cases for the private cloud
Private clouds are a good option for businesses who require flexibility in computing power and storage needs. A well-structured private cloud can help to compute results much faster than a business without them. It gives you the flexibility to assign resources to different teams and can keep an accurate track of how much of your cloud is being used. Unlike a public cloud, the private cloud gives you a customisable, flexible and fast network in which you can preside.
Downsides of the private cloud
- Costs — Maintaining a private cloud costs not only money but time and space. It takes time to set up, you must dedicate server space which could otherwise be given over to workspace, and then you have to maintain it.
- Security — It is a common misconception that a private cloud is safer than a public cloud. In fact, a data center is harder to hack than a private cloud.
- Speed — For in-house work, a private cloud is certainly faster, but for off-site work, a private cloud will always be slower than a public cloud. If your business relies on off-site workers to be efficient, then a private cloud is not for you.
Private vs Public cloud
The differences between private clouds and public clouds are quite distinct. Each has a specific use, and it really depends on how you are going to use the cloud as to which you should consider. There is however, a third option. A Hybrid cloud storage system.
A hybrid cloud is sometimes also called a ‘best of both cloud’. Although it is a little bit of a simplification, the appeal of a hybrid cloud system is hard to overestimate. What it essentially does is provide the benefits of both cloud systems, with fewer of the drawbacks.
Creating a hybrid system allows you to use both your on-premises hardware, your private cloud and a public cloud into a single cloud computing system. The key to doing this is to tier your storage and access, which allows you to utilise the best tools for each job.
This allows you to combine the flexibility of the private cloud — which allows you to control the computing power of the cloud — with the storage scalability of the public cloud, meaning you can simply pay for more storage when you need it. This frees up hardware to provide more computing power.
The only issue when it comes to hybrid systems is the complexity. However, using a managed service provider (MSP) can simplify this a lot. Whilst MSPs historically run break-fix models, nowadays many MSPs run fully managed storage solutions, meaning that you can have the technical support of an expert company, without having to invest in training. Having an MSP means you have services and solutions to any issues that arise.
In short, the hybrid solution gives you flexibility and scalability in a system that, while more complex to start with, in the end will give greater results. Cloud services are the way forward in Information Technology. Having a good integrated system into your workflow is important to ensure maximum efficiency. Research the best solution for your business and choose the right cloud for you.
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