Public-Private-Hybrid-cloudWhat are we talking about when we talk about public, private, and hybrid clouds? In this overview, we explain the differences between the various cloud models and how businesses can benefit from cloud technology.

Public Cloud

A public cloud is one in which the services and infrastructure are provided off-site over the Internet. Data centre hardware is not owned by clients and so you face no capital expenses. Instead, providers sell a ‘utility’ or rental service. Providers offer maintenance, disaster recovery and backup, however basic this may be.

This is a multi-tenant software solution. Individual company data sits in separate blocks in a common clustered hardware. Data for individual organisations is kept separate and protected with robust security. Breaches of data with a reliable provider are rare. However, security standards are not suitable for very sensitive data, rigorous audit trails or industry compliance.

Public cloud is mainly used to host web servers or develop applications. It is attractive to small mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) if they are happy to use the set menu specifications. Virtual machines are configured quickly – often within hours. Some SaaS (Software as a Service) services are placed within a public cloud if they have high levels of built-in security.

Private Cloud

A private cloud is one in which the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network. It operates on an isolated network and is extremely secure. It keeps data behind a firewall and is built on-premise or in a ring-fenced section of a data centre. Private cloud is a single tenant solution with the hardware accessed by one or multiple businesses. It’s an ideal solution for enterprise organisations or specialist firms with high levels of security and compliance. Clients generally maintain their own cloud system and own their hardware.

Security and compliance on private cloud is configured to meet compliance standards. Private cloud systems cost much more than public cloud and re-configuring is more complex and lengthy.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud uses public and private cloud for different elements of computing. Only some elements will require high security and customisation but others will not. Hybrid cloud offers private cloud for sensitive data but keeps non-sensitive, generic data (e.g. customer literature) in a cheaper public cloud environment. Hybrid cloud is usually hosted by different cloud providers – one for public and one for private. Hybrid cloud benefits companies who experience seasonal spikes so extra computing power is deployed quickly and cheaply in public cloud while keeping sensitive information in its private cloud.

Hybrid cloud is the biggest growth area in cloud computing for enterprise businesses. As servers become ‘smarter’, hybrid cloud is estimated to represent 75% of future enterprise cloud computing.

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