Though ultimately similar in the grand scheme of things (they all pull information from a virtualized environment), the three types of cloud offerings – private, public, and hybrid – each have their own strategic benefits and features:
Private clouds provide a virtualized environment whose features and benefits are only accessible by the organization that pays for the private cloud service, hence, private. These features and benefits include:
- Higher control of data since the flow of information is controlled entirely by the organization
- Fixed/known infrastructure since it’s smaller economy-of-scale, meaning capacity investments can be directly correlated to departmental needs.
By far the most consumed cloud service, public clouds are hosted by service providers who utilize a virtualized environment to provide multiple clients with the same shared infrastructure. Popular public cloud services that generally fly under the radar include Xbox Live, Pandora Radio, and Netflix, to name a few. Benefits and features of the public cloud include:
- Utility-like costing – similar to your electric bill, you pay for what you use
- Increased scalability to ensure additional resources are allocated as demand increases
- Greater peace-of-mind since most service providers take extensive redundancy measures due to higher economies of scale
- Highly integrated because many “-as-a-Service” components follow the public cloud model, enabling immediate access from any internet enabled device
As you can imagine, hybrid cloud is a combination of both private and public clouds, allowing organizations to perform distinct functions based on its business needs. The private portion remains with the organization’s on-premise datacenter, while the public portion resides within the service provider’s remote datacenter.
The bottom line: Hybrid cloud is ideal for organizations looking to migrate to the cloud while utilizing the security of their on-premise infrastructure. Below is a list of several enterprise benefits to the Hybrid option unattainable or much more difficult to achieve in Public/Private cloud scenarios:
1. Cloud Bursting/Elasticity – Control Your Consumption, Manage Your Costs
Hybrid clouds offer the greatest flexibility while maintaining complete control should an organization need to “burst” IT performance for a designated period of time. Likewise, cloud “elasticity” allows IT administrators to expand and contract cloud consumption at will or automatically to manage costs.
The Hybrid option allows IT personnel to pick and choose which apps can be uploaded to the public cloud while leaving mission critical apps to the secure, private portion. Leveraging the cloud alongside the on-premise datacenter lowers latency requirements, allowing optimal response times between end user input and server output. Some popular examples of when this bursting would need to occur include:
- Retailers needing to burst their e-commerce site during seasonal shopping months
- Increased server capacity during the release of a new game
- Increased demand on government sites for submitting taxes in April
However, cloud bursting comes with its own challenges, especially if done manually where the margin for error is slim.
2. Automation – Controlling Your Cloud Consumption
Continuing from the previous point, automating cloud consumption based on demand trends can go a long way in reducing opex since IT administrators will spend less time managing systems. Organizations can decide when they need to boost IT performance by utilizing both the on-premise datacenter and the cloud – a process which can be entirely automated based on historical trends.
As demonstrated by the below graphic, customers leveraging the Hybrid scenario can scale out their resources to the service provider’s virtual datacenter to meet the demand needs of the organization.
3. Cost-efficient – Consumption-based Model
When cloud bursting is measured and automated, organizations will witness significant reduction in consumed resources from their own datacenter.
Under-utilization of an on-prem server is like excess square footage in the backyard – money and time is being wasted to mow an area of the lawn that never gets used. In the case of an under-utilized server, money is being wasted on hardware that remains idle, yet requires investment to maintain. Pushing the applications residing on that server to the public cloud reduces that expenditure.
Cloud subscriptions are typically a “pay-as-you-go” model, so scaling back cloud resources to on-prem servers during minimal demand windows further reduces the investment.
4. Redundancy – Extensive Disaster Recovery Measures
Redundancy is IT’s best shield against any infrastructure failure. Simply put, datacenter redundancy is the duplication of datacenter infrastructure to eliminate single points of failure. This is invaluable to the organization as a healthy datacenter is essential to maintaining workplace continuity – should the datacenter fail, then business comes to a screeching halt.
Redundancy – or disaster recovery (DR) – is commonly undertaken during the development/testing of a new application. If there was no failover for the application, then months of progress could potentially be lost should the server crash. A relatable example would be the best practices of saving Word documents – always save files to multiple hard drives in case one gets corrupted. Likewise, from a productivity standpoint, duplicating that same file to the cloud allows for anywhere access to the file, regardless of which device one uses.
- If you’re considering the cloud, but don’t know which model is right for your organization, then consider the below questions as a starting point for defining your cloud adoption needs:
- What are your plans, if any, for cloud computing?
- What are your business drivers for moving to the cloud?
- Do you use cloud applications like SalesForce.com, Concur, or WorkDay? Are those relationships owned by IT or your business?
- Do you have any of your “.com” sites or home-grown applications hosted in the cloud?