We’re constantly told about how powerful the Cloud is, and how businesses both large and small should be ‘on it.’ And this much is true – leveraged properly, the Cloud is an immensely powerful tool that creates greater efficiencies within any organisation, and therefore saves the business money while also heightening productivity.
But there’s a lot of confusion about the Cloud, and how to select the right Cloud model to suit the business’s needs. With this in mind, here’s a breakdown on the various kinds of Cloud models out there and reasons why you might want to consider using them.
The public Cloud
The best way to think about the public Cloud is: ‘it’s like Gmail.’ Using an Internet connection, a public Cloud user signs into a third party provider’s service in order to access its servers, hardware, datacentres and operating systems. It’s a space available to anyone in the world with a login, and the data that you create while on the service is stored in the same place as everyone else’s.
Because the Cloud is a service for everyone, the provider is able to offer the services inexpensively, and this is the number one benefit of a public cloud – it’s cheap. That’s why people have a Gmail account for their personal email rather than paying to create their own mail server at home – the value of email is low enough that ‘free’ is the right price that people will pay.
The other benefit is that a public Cloud service will be managed by a service team on the third party’s side of the connection, easing the management workload for your own IT team.
The downside should be explicitly obvious – this isn’t the most secure way to do things, and critical, sensitive data shouldn’t be stored on public Cloud, no matter how secure the vendor promises it is.
The private Cloud
This model works a little like setting up your own Gmail account and then only giving accounts to people in your own organisation. Unlike a public Cloud, with a private Cloud all the servers and datacentres are kept within your own organisation, allowing you full responsibility for their management and security.
The benefit of the private Cloud is that it gives the organisation complete control, and you are able to store critical data so that it is as resilient to hacking and theft as possible. The private Cloud still provides the same user experience for your workers – they’ll be able to access the service from anywhere, but you won’t be sharing the datacentre with anyone and you’ll be able to customise it to suit the unique needs of your business.
The downside to this model is it can be expensive. If you’re going to run every application from email to CRM and beyond on a private Cloud, you’re going to need an expansive IT team (or a third party to manage it).
The hybrid Cloud
The hybrid Cloud is for people that want the best of both worlds. For applications like email, which are not as mission critical as other applications, it’s a good idea to use a public cloud where costs can be minimised for an acceptable level of performance. But critical applications and the storage of sensitive data can be kept within a private cloud infrastructure.
The benefit to the hybrid Cloud is obvious – you get the best of both worlds with cost efficiency combining with private Cloud robustness. The downside is that hybrid Clouds are complex rollouts and require management to ensure that the private and public cloud environments talk effectively to one another.
IaaS and SaaS
In addition to private, public and hybrid Clouds, organisations need to decide between Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). SaaS refers to a Cloud-based piece of software that you pay for by the month in return for access and a login. Salesforce is a famous example of this. IaaS on the other hand, allows you to pay a fee to ‘purchase’ access to the hardware and services to run the software. Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services are examples of this. Both SaaS and IaaS can be purchased in private, public and hybrid Cloud models, so it is useful to use whichever model fits with your overall IT strategy.