In the ‘Cloud Computing’ series with SureBridge Partner, CCIQ we’ve explored the benefits of cloud computing and various risks and rewards of customisation and cloud-based business software.
In a remarkable time, cloud computing has emerged and revolutionised the way we do business. This shift transformed rigid, manual and physical processes into agile operations, connecting business with consumers in unique and meaningful ways. An understanding of the cloud inevitably leads to the final question of which type of cloud to choose: public, private or hybrid.
Private Cloud Computing
A private cloud hosting solution, also known as ‘internal’ or ‘enterprise’ cloud, exists on an intranet or hosted data centre where all of your data is protected behind a firewall. Similarly, to other cloud models, private clouds will allow you to use the software as a service within an online environment; the key difference being that the cloud (company resources) are accessible only by a single organisation, and therefore providing you with greater control and privacy.
Some organisations employ private cloud computing by leveraging a third-party cloud providers infrastructure known as a ‘Virtual Private Cloud’ (VPC), whilst others implement over internal infrastructure (although there is an argument to suggest that VPC is not actually private).
The key benefits are namely the higher security and data control, and if you have the current infrastructure, you can build without laying out any additional costs.
- Flexibility and Control: As the cloud is owned by your business, you can configure and manage it in line with your needs to achieve a tailored solution.
- Security: Many security and compliance experts lean in recommendations for private cloud, as it can provide security advantages over the public cloud. While any cloud environment requires robust anti-virus and firewall protection, a private cloud runs on certain physical machines, which makes its physical security easier to ensure. Cloud access is also more secure with a private cloud environment because it is accessed through private and secure network links, rather than the public internet.
- Cost: A study conducted by 451 Research in 2017 found that nearly half of enterprises do not save money with the private cloud. The results found that it was cheaper to run private cloud infrastructure than a public cloud on a per-virtual machine basis for 41% of the 150 executive-level IT leaders that contributed to the survey. In some cases, the savings were dramatic — 9% of the respondents indicated they saved at least 50% in a private cloud versus what they paid for public cloud consumption.
Initially, the investment for private cloud may seem a more cost-effective solution than public, however, the cost can stack up over time if there is not ample infrastructure in place for maintenance and support.
- Resource: If your organisation does not have the internal resource for the management, maintenance and updates required for private cloud software, this is a serious constraint potentially costing you more than an investment in the public cloud.
- Stacked costs: For most businesses, there is no single solution that will meet all of your needs. Multiple cloud hardware and software costs can build up and stack on top of each other requiring maintenance and support for each one.
- Lifecycle costs: As the servers for the cloud are managed in-house, eventually they will need replacing. This outlay can be significant for a business, particularly if there is no IT internal resource to assist with the process.
Public Cloud Computing
The public cloud is a type of computing service offered by a third-party over the public internet, available to anyone who wants to purchase/use them. According to Microsoft, public clouds can save companies from the expensive costs of having to purchase, manage and maintain on-premises hardware and application infrastructure – the cloud service provider is held responsible for all management and maintenance of the system. Public clouds can also be deployed faster than on-premises infrastructures and with an almost infinitely scalable platform. Every employee of a company can use the same application from any office or branch using their device of choice, as long as they can access the Internet. While security concerns have been raised over public cloud environments, when implemented correctly, the public cloud can be as secure as the most effectively managed private cloud implementation if the provider uses proper security methods, such as intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS).
The benefits for public cloud are numerous and transformative for many small-medium size businesses. With no investment required in maintenance, hardware and support – just a subscription fee, this can be a highly cost-effective solution for many businesses.
- Flexibility: The pay-as-you-go option for public cloud software is an attractive and scalable solution for many SMEs who are looking to transform their business without the investment required from a private infrastructure.
- Self–Managed – both a pro and a con: Internal IT departments may want the option to set up and manage their own servers (private cloud or hybrid) which can be seen as a con for public cloud, but other businesses who may not have an internal IT department may want a fully-managed service without the stress which is a pro.
- Scalability: Public cloud solutions allow organisations to scale at a near infinite rate, something that would not be possible in an on-premises data centre. As a business grows, it doesn’t need to acquire additional hardware or maintain a sprawling network. Likewise, cloud-based services and applications require far less hardware than applications delivered in a traditional manner. In other words, users no longer have to worry about installing and updating applications on their machines. Instead, their cloud-hosted applications will always remain up to date with the latest features and security.
- Prying eyes: A commitment to providing your information to a third-party organisation inevitably allows that organisation to collect information about you.
- Future Migration: By committing to a third-party, they will do everything they can to keep the barriers to exiting as high as possible. This may mean that if your business wants to move away from their service in the future it may be hard to switch servers and migrate.
- Fit: Some organisations such as healthcare who require rigorous security standards may require extra protection by hosting on a privately controlled cloud or a hybrid model. Established businesses with highly specific computational needs may also prefer a private or hybrid model for enhanced optimisation of resources.
Hybrid Cloud Computing
Hybrid computing put simply, is where a business uses both private and public software and allows the data to flow between them.
If your demand and/or business requirements fluctuate within your business, a hybrid cloud solution provides the ability to scale privately where required and to use the public cloud for any overflow or other requirements.
- At your own pace: Put what makes sense for your business into the cloud, if a gradual transition makes sense for you – then hybrid can be the way to go.
- Control: As mentioned previously in this article, if your business requires additional security or privacy, having the ability to control which information is able to be stored where can be a major benefit for a hybrid solution.
- Trust: The final but most critical consideration is trust. When considering using cloud-based services, what is your level of trust for the proposed business? Do they have a strong reputation for managing their data and IT infrastructure? Do they have external audits of their environment? What standards do they adhere to?
Questions to ask when you’re considering a Cloud Service Provider (CSP):
- Is my data too sensitive to store
- Does the CSP have a secure gateway environment?
- Protecting data from unauthorised access by CSP’s other customers/rogue employees: Do you have adequate separation from your data and CSP’s other customer data?
- Data centre access is supervised? Actions by employees logged and reviewed?
- Maintaining availability and business functionality: CSP has a business continuity plan?
- Is the network connection adequate?
In conclusion: one size doesn’t fit all. Put what makes sense into the cloud.
Ensure you research your providers intensively, ensure scalability is available down the track and how your data is being handled. Each option boasts strengths and weaknesses and like any IT solution, it needs to fit your business needs and future journey.
If you have any questions about the Cloud, we’d love to help you out. Either fill in the form below or give SureBridge a call on 07 3721 4111 and we can connect you with our Cloud Platforms Specialist for a confidential, obligation free discussion.