Besides deciding what to put in the cloud, you need to choose the type of cloud to use. There are three main types of clouds: public, private, and hybrid.
When people think of cloud computing, they often think of offerings such as Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox, and Google Drive. These are public clouds. A public cloud provider uses the same hardware (e.g., servers, storage devices, networking equipment) to deliver its cloud services to all its customers. So, for instance, if you subscribe to Google Drive, your files are on the same hardware as the other subscribers’ files.
The hardware used to deliver the cloud service is always at the provider’s facility. The provider is responsible for managing the IT resource being offered (e.g., software, backup service) as well as maintaining the hardware used to deliver it.
Using a public cloud offers several benefits. For starters, you can add IT resources without having to make large capital investments. Another advantage is that you can quickly change the amount of resources you are using, letting you efficiently operate your business. Finally, you do not need to manage the IT resource you are getting through the provider.
A private cloud is used exclusively by a single company that has multiple business units. Those business units use the services being provided by the private cloud, much like multiple companies use the services being delivered by a public cloud.
You can choose to own a private cloud or lease one from a provider. Even when leased, you use dedicated hardware—you are not sharing it with any other organization. This hardware may be located onsite (e.g., at your company’s headquarters) or offsite (e.g., at the provider’s facility). The party responsible for managing the private cloud depends on various factors, such as whether the cloud is leased and where it is located. It could be you, the provider, or both you and the provider.
The main advantage of using a private cloud is tighter security, which is important if you must comply with government regulations. Because you do not share the hardware with other organizations, you do not have to worry about your resources being vulnerable if another company’s resources become infected with malware or get hacked. In addition, you control internal and external access to your private cloud.
Some people mistakenly believe that having a hybrid cloud means that you keep all your IT operations in-house, except for connecting one server to a public cloud. A hybrid cloud actually refers to an IT environment that uses both private and public clouds. The clouds operate independently, but they communicate with each other. Sometimes, technologies are used to achieve data and application portability between them.
The main benefit of using a hybrid cloud is that it is highly customizable. For example, you can use a private cloud for the IT resources that need tighter security, while using a public cloud for those resources you want to be scalable.
None of the cloud types are inherently better than the others. The different types of clouds simply meet different needs. Our team can recommend the type of cloud that is best for your company, given your current business requirements and what you envision them to be in the future.