As the race towards digital transformation leads more enterprises to host their applications in the cloud, one of their main decisions will be to choose between public or private cloud. Making the right choice, ultimately, depends on the needs of individual organisations and of their applications and the type of data they use. Here, we’ll look at a number of factors about public and private cloud that are helpful in the decision-making process.
1. Which type of cloud is the most secure?
Cloud vendors have to abide by stringent security regulations and invest heavily in security, both in terms of tools and expertise. As a result, they provide far greater levels of security than most enterprises can achieve on-site. At the same time, the nature of the cloud means applications and data are stored remotely, rather than on individual machines, reducing the threat of internal and external data theft. The cloud also gives enterprises control over their security management, data is easily encrypted and backed up and logical access policies can be implemented to prevent unauthorised access.
For organisations that process highly sensitive information, the private cloud can be a more secure place to store that data. While the infrastructure of the public cloud is shared by its users, the infrastructure of a private cloud isn’t. The single-tenancy setup of the private cloud provides increased control over the data management system, with the data securely stored, encrypted and monitored behind a firewall on infrastructure not shared with other users. In this way, the private cloud helps organisations better comply with their data protection and privacy regulations.
2. Which offers the greatest performance?
How well an app performs depends on the IT resources it has available. This, of course, can be influenced by the number of other applications running on the same system and the demands made upon the system at any particular time. An app that generally performs without a problem may falter if other apps hog the system’s resources or if there is a peak in demand.
While dedicated servers and the private cloud can provide the resources you need, the obvious solution in this instance is the public cloud. Quite simply, the vast datacentres deployed by public cloud vendors enable enterprises to scale up resources, such as CPU, RAM, bandwidth and storage, to levels way beyond that of dedicated servers or private clouds. As a result, the public cloud can offer unparalleled performance and ensure that during periods of highest demand more resources can be added instantly, on-demand, at the click of a mouse.
3. Which offers the highest availability?
When it comes to critical applications, even short periods of downtime can be severely disruptive, bringing operations to a halt and taking vital services offline. For enterprises that require high availability, the best solution is the public cloud.
Public cloud provides the highest availability, frequently guaranteeing 100% uptime. This is achievable simply because of the vast and sophisticated infrastructures that vendors have in place. Underlying this is the virtualisation that ensures no customers’ systems are tied to any specific hardware. Thus, if a hardware issue is discovered, the system can easily be moved elsewhere and stay online. With failover servers and datacentres at their disposal, public cloud vendors can maintain availability even if entire datacentres go offline.
While this level of availability can be achieved with private cloud, it can be a more expensive option, especially for self-hosted private clouds.
4. Which is the most cost-effective option?
When it comes to cost, both public cloud and vendor-hosted private cloud offer significant savings when compared to the capital investment needed for running IT on-site. This has been a major factor in why so many enterprises have migrated to the cloud. Cloud migration means moving from a Cap-Ex model to an Op-Ex model, which, in itself, can help enterprises better manage IT budgets over the long term. Indeed, there are now solutions available that enable enterprises to predict cloud usage and costs over time and which use AI to provide insights to keep costs to a minimum.
The biggest financial benefit of the cloud is the public cloud’s ‘pay as you go’ charging model. Essentially, enterprises will sign up for a cloud account, with a standard monthly fee, that provides the basic resources needed for day to day operations. Any resources needed beyond this can be supplied, on-demand, through scaling up. These, however, are charged for on a ‘pay as you go’ basis, so that enterprises only pay for the additional resources they use, as and when they need them. A good example of how this is used is GoHenry, a company that provides payment cards for children which are topped up and managed by their parents. The company has found that most parents top up their children’s cards in the morning and so scale up during the peak morning times to cater for increased demand, scaling down as demand diminishes. This helps the company keep costs to a minimum on a daily basis.
5. Don’t forget the value of support
Whether enterprises opt to run their apps in the public or private cloud, it is important that they choose a vendor that delivers first-class technical support. Cloud migration can be a challenge as applications moved from in-house datacentres may not work as expected, or at all, in a cloud environment. Enterprises may need support to find new apps, update existing ones or tweak configurations to enable them to work effectively.
Additionally, if an enterprise adopts a more complex infrastructure, such as a hybrid or multi-cloud setup, they may need further support to ensure that all the elements of the system integrate effectively and that data remains secure.
Moving applications to the cloud can bring significant benefits: improved cost-effectiveness, higher availability, better performance and increased security. While the private cloud can offer additional security benefits for those using sensitive data, generally, the public cloud wins out in the other areas. While the choice is for the individual organisation to make, hopefully, the information provided here will give enterprises a better understanding of what to consider.
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