Cloud computing is the current hot topic in the IT world, with good reason. The cloud offers benefits to IT managers, by not requiring them to support physical hardware and removing their need to anticipate capacity problems. Enhanced collaborative tools, like Microsoft’s Sharepoint, leverage the power of the cloud to connect users and allow them to work on projects together without having to trade file updates via email. Even with all the benefits that cloud computing provides, it will take several years for most companies to switch over to the cloud for most of their business needs and, even then, most companies will likely retain some dedicated servers for critical development and sensitive data storage. While making the switch to the cloud, companies will need to explore the differences between, and relative benefits of, private and public cloud resources as well as the merits of a hybrid solution.
The public cloud is a cloud computing platform that’s open to any paying client, but is best suited for use by small to medium businesses. Public cloud services, like Amazon Web Services and Google Apps, generally provide storage, databases, load balancing or Software as a Service (SaaS) for a monthly or hourly fee. Any customer who can provide payment can subscribe to a public cloud service, giving businesses of all sizes and with all manner of budgets the opportunity to gain the benefit of the various services offered through the cloud. The main drawback of the public cloud is that everyone’s information is stored together and they all have to make use of the same infrastructure, meaning that information isn’t as secure on a public cloud service as it would be on a private service or on a dedicated server.
Private cloud services are offered by large companies like IBM and HP to large businesses that require greater security and performance from any cloud environment. Companies can create their own cloud platform, also, but that requires building a dedicated data center and staffing it. Private clouds provide greater security and fault tolerances than the public cloud and can be used for mission critical applications and secure data. Private cloud services will cost much more than public, however; a large amount of the cost will be spent on personnel and hardware, costs which, on a public cloud platform, are spread out among all subscribers.
A hybrid platform will be the best choice for companies seeking to move into the cloud in the future, providing them with benefits of both dedicated and cloud services. A hybrid model generally makes use of a private cloud system collocated with dedicated servers. Critical data is stored on the dedicated server while the cloud handles additional resource requirements and most of the data processing. This gives the business peace of mind, knowing that their data is secure and not on a shared network or machine, while giving them the adaptability and extended processing power of the cloud.
During the transition from the dedicated server model to the cloud hosting model, many businesses will likely choose an interim solution that will allow them to ease into the cloud. Few businesses are using cloud storage for more than 50% of their needs, showing that most companies aren’t comfortable putting all of their sensitive data onto someone else’s network. The need for hybrid services to bridge the gap between cloud and in-house storage and processing is clear. Companies can make use of a dedicated server to store their critical files and perform any sensitive data processing while taking advantage of the scalability and power of the cloud to perform any other tasks and store other data.
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