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Cloud – What is It Good For?

13th May 2015 · Our Thoughts

Image of clouds with questionmarks

A recent survey by the UK cloud computing trade body, the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), suggests that the adoption of cloud services has increased over the past couple of years. It questioned 250 UK-based senior IT decision-makers and found that 84 per cent were now using cloud services, with almost three quarters saying their use would grow over the next 12 months.

And the type of cloud services being used is interesting. 451 Research suggest that 56% of workloads in the cloud over the next 24 months will be in private or hybrid cloud environments.

So if you are considering a move to the cloud, what type is best for you? This question can be answered by categorising the different types of cloud available and what they are most suited for. By understanding the different flavours of cloud and looking at what circumstances they can be applied to, you should be able to pick ‘n mix according to your business requirements.

The different clouds

There are three main flavours of cloud computing – namely public, private and hybrid – all working on the basis that you access a combined hardware and software platform via the internet.

Public Cloud

This is provided by third party Cloud Service Providers and is where virtual computing resources are accessed over the internet. It is a multi-tenant environment where the users share the resources and the platform hosts more than one client.

By sharing the IT infrastructure between multiple clients, user costs tend to be more affordable though they can be more prone to outages. There is also greater flexibility allowing you to scale the number of servers and resources you use easily and quickly. It is also relatively easy to move between different providers.

What is Public Cloud good for?

The Public Cloud is particularly good for organisations that have lots of data but do not have major privacy or data sovereignty concerns because you won’t necessarily know where in the world your servers are being hosted. It is also good for those that want to only pay for the computing resources they are using as they use them, so called ‘use as you go.’

So it suits organisations that for instance sell tickets to music or sports events; development and testing environments that need to scale up and down resources over short periods; one-off big data projects and public-facing websites which contain lots of information. It can be used by both start-ups and established businesses.

The pricing for Public Cloud is pretty standard and the virtual machines created for your use are becoming ever more powerful.

Private Cloud

In a private cloud the computing resources – hardware, software and virtual machines – are for the exclusive use of one single organisation, what’s known as a single tenant environment. This means you know exactly where your data is stored and you have total control.

You can either have a private cloud on-site within your organisation or you can host it within the data centre of a third party Cloud Service Provider who will work with you to create exactly what you need from the ground up. A private cloud gives you full visibility of the resources and how they are being used, ensuring you are always running at optimum efficiency.

What is Private Cloud good for?

By its very nature a private cloud offers additional security to a public one. It is best for organisations that need to meet specific security and compliance standards or that want to protect their intellectual property. This is particularly relevant to organisations dealing with sensitive data such as those in the healthcare, finance, legal and public sectors and eCommerce organisations who deal with customer payment details.

With private cloud you know where your data is being held so it is important too for organisations which need prove the sovereignty of their data.

A managed private cloud – which includes monitoring and patching from the hosting provider – can also provide peace of mind around uptime and reliability via strong Service Level Agreements built into the contract.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid Cloud is a combination of computing models. It can mean a mixture of Public and Private Cloud, colocation or on-site computing resources and can be made up of dedicated and virtual machines. Essentially it is the blend of resources that can help an organisation meet any computing requirement.

More and more enterprises are choosing this model because it allows them to place the right application in the right computing environment. As it is more complex than a straight forward single platform model it can cost more.

What is Hybrid Cloud good for?

Hybrid cloud can be used to overcome specific challenges. For instance you might need to reduce your overall costs while continuing to use your existing IT infrastructure or you might have sensitive and non-sensitive data that you need to keep separate – say credit card data from marketing documents. If you are an organisation that suffers spikes in traffic at certain times of the year it can be used to add additional resources at these peak times. You could have public cloud machines whose data is then stored on a private SAN. Hybrid cloud also allows you to bridge between applications, for instance using an API to connect Salesforce to your own CRM sitting in a private cloud.

By speaking to a reputable Cloud Service Provider which has experience across these different types of cloud you can find the right answers and create the bespoke solution to suit your business needs

“The cloud, what is it good for? Absolutely everything!” it turns out.


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