Given that 2013 is being touted as the year of the hybrid Cloud by industry experts, I am being asked more and more about the distinguishing features of a hybrid Cloud when compared to public or private Cloud offerings. In this blog post, I will take you through the features of public, private and hybrid Clouds respectively, while offering my opinion on the relative uses and merits of each.
A public Cloud service is probably the most common form. Infrastructure is provided offsite and shared between a number of organisations, with services (applications, data) delivered over the public Internet. Public Clouds are efficient and cost effective, but as the services are commoditised, there is no customisation and integration with onsite platforms and applications. Furthermore, the location where data is stored cannot be guaranteed and is often outside of the UK, resulting in compliance and data protection headaches. While this set up is great for email and some SaaS applications, when using a public Cloud, businesses must give due consideration to issues of compliance, integration and data protection, given the potential for security breaches. Users leaning towards a public Cloud should also consider service levels and any related SLAs, as well as availability, which is often much less when compared to private Cloud infrastructures.
A private Cloud’s main advantages over a public one are its customisation, application integration and security. The infrastructure is still provided offsite, however it is this time delivered over a private network. The infrastructure can be tailored to meet specific requirements, with users also having the option to integrate with existing systems and the guarantee that data is located and stored in the UK. These solutions are typically best for those companies whose data and applications require a higher level of security, given the privacy of the computing environment and the ability to operate behind their own firewall. Private Clouds are also provided, and managed by, experienced managed service providers, resulting in increased flexibility, performance and SLA-backed availability.
A hybrid Cloud solution combines public and private Cloud infrastructures. For companies who require increased customisation, integration and security, with the assurance that their critical applications will be available 24/7, a private Cloud is a good candidate. For applications/services that do not require such service levels, such as email and some SaaS applications, the public Cloud is viable. But for users who require a combination of both environments, a hybrid Cloud allows both to co-exist across the same network, but with very different service parameters and service levels. This method affords businesses the cost-effectiveness of the public Cloud, while not having to compromise the security of their critical applications.
While a hybrid Cloud solution may, at first glance, seem to offer the most business benefits, there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ in the business of Cloud computing. Each organisation will have unique objectives and needs, and for this reason it is important to ensure that you choose a managed services provider with the skills and experience necessary to decipher your goals and provide a completely tailored, best-fit solution.