Cloud computing is often spoken about in broad terms, which is helpful when getting the basics out of the way but can end up being confusing if you are attempting to acquire a deeper understanding of what this type of platform has to offer.
To help bring clarity to the topic, here is a quick look at the three main types of cloud computing and how they are different from one another.
A public cloud computing service is owned and operated in its entirety by a cloud provider. That means everything from the data centre and the hardware it contains to the software licences and maintenance of the network infrastructure will be in the purview of the provider.
With the public cloud, the services that it supports are sold like utilities and lots of users will effectively be sharing the same hardware within a data centre at the same time.
You may even find that a provider operates many different data centres across the world, so while the experience of accessing the service may be seamless, your data and apps may be running on hardware that is actually based in an entirely different country, potentially putting it under the control of a different legal jurisdiction.
Public cloud services are generally the most affordable because they benefit from the economies of scale involved in running large data centres so that loads can be shifted as appropriate.
A private cloud system offers similar functionality to the public cloud, but rather than having to share hardware and infrastructural elements with other users, a business can gain sole use over a particular set of equipment.
A private cloud set-up can be established in a data centre that is owned and operated by a business, which means it will have to take responsibility for the installation, maintenance and updating of hardware. Alternatively, you can get a third-party provider to create a private cloud solution that is hosted off-site but still gives you exclusive access to a particular set of hardware.
Businesses that choose the private approach to cloud computing do so for a variety of reasons, including a desire to keep control over hardware and ensure that mission-critical data and apps are not having to exist on servers that also deal with traffic from other customers.
A growing number of businesses are choosing to adopt a hybrid approach to cloud computing, because as the name suggests this allows you to combine both public and private solutions to give you a better level of service.
Most hybrid cloud set-ups involve the use of a private cloud service for running vital apps and storing important data so that a company can operate efficiently and effectively from one day to the next.
The public cloud can be used for the purposes of data back-up or less sensitive services such as e-mail in a hybrid set-up, but it can also come into play when there are temporary spikes in capacity requirements.
Ultimately, a hybrid cloud will give a business a good deal of scalability, because the restrictions of the hardware resources available to it from its private set-up will be alleviated thanks to the presence of the public cloud when it is necessary to handle overflow.
The type of cloud solution that your business should adopt will depend on a number of variables, such as the size of your organisation and the current and ongoing IT requirements to which it is subjected. But with these three main cloud options, it is easy to find the right platform and adopt a modern, cost-effective set-up in little time at all.
The author, Jamie Garner, works for Daisy Group – a leading UK provider of cloud computing services.