The business leader’s quick guide to the different types of cloud computing
Last updated on June 23rd, 2020
With multiple countries still in lockdown and traditional office environments swapped for home offices, the pandemic has bought the need for a flexible, robust cloud deployment into sharp clarity.
Cloud adoption was already becoming mainstream, with 90% of companies on the cloud and an estimated 60% of workloads running on a hosted cloud device in 2019. However, the sudden and drastic increase in remote working has placed a strain on infrastructure, highlighting stresses and fractures in many environments. As a result, many businesses may be asking themselves if they’ve adopted the right type of cloud or if they will need to change in order to ensure long-term profitability and sustainability in a post-pandemic world. It seems unlikely that we will revert to the traditional office-based 9-5, therefore businesses will need to be virtually agile and able to adapt to the new ways of working and doing business.
In order to operate and compete effectively in the new commercial environment that awaits, as well as deliver an enhancing employee and customer experience, businesses will need to be strategic when it comes to choosing a cloud solution and vendor. However, we’ve noticed there is still a lot of confusion when it comes to the cloud marketplace and the types of solutions that are available. So, we’ve put together a quick-start, high-level guide designed to give busy business leaders a clearer understanding of the different types of cloud.
Which type of cloud deployment is best?
The three core types of cloud offer broadly similar benefits, but the one you choose will be dependent on the business requirements you have identified.
A public cloud consists of cloud computing resources which are owned and operated by a third-party provider and delivered over the internet to the general public. Microsoft and Amazon are two of the most well-known public cloud players, holding 50% of the marketplace as of February 2020, but IBM and Google are also key providers. It’s typically used to deploy web-based email, online office applications, storage, and testing and development environments.
With public cloud, all hardware, software and supporting infrastructure is owned and managed by the cloud service provider. Not only does this result in a lower initial financial outlay, but it also removes the need to budget and plan for infrastructure upgrades. Maintenance is usually factored into the contract cost, but businesses should double-check what’s included or they could risk being stung with an inflated bill.
One of the key benefits of public cloud is its easy scalability. Businesses only pay for the resource they use, but this resource can be ramped up or down to meet fluctuating user demands. It can offer increased reliability due to the vast number of servers involved. If one data centre were to fail, the load would be redistributed among the remaining centres making total failure unlikely. However, this is not to say that downtime is no longer a risk. Microsoft, Google and AWS have all experienced prolonged outages in the past 12-18 months, so it’s important to review outage reports.
Also known as a corporate or internal cloud, a private cloud consists of cloud computing resources which are used solely by one group, rather than the general public. It can be delivered by physical on-premise servers, located either at your business or in your datacentre, or it can be hosted by a third-party provider. In either case, though, the services and infrastructure are always maintained on a private network and the hardware and software are dedicated solely to your business.
Private cloud is typically adopted by those in highly regulated industries or those who deal with highly sensitive information such as financial services, government services, medicine or pharmaceuticals. It’s also a good option for mid- to large-sized organisations who are wanting to retain greater control over their environment.
Businesses are increasingly shifting their focus to a hybrid cloud approach. Often referred to as ‘the best of both worlds’, a hybrid deployment involves combining on-premise infrastructure or private cloud with public cloud. This approach offers high levels of flexibility, whilst maintaining some degree of control on-premise for sensitive data and applications. Public cloud can be used to deliver high-volume, lower-security needs such as webmail, whilst the private cloud is used for business-critical, sensitive operations like finance. Public cloud can also be used to extend the capacity of a private cloud when there are huge spikes in demand, for example, the deadline for online tax submissions. The application runs in a private cloud until demand spikes, at which point the business can tap into the public cloud for additional computing resources.
Choosing a vendor
Once you’ve decided which model best suits your requirements, the final step in to select a provider.
Regardless of whether you’re opting for public or private cloud, security must always be a top consideration. With all businesses handling confidential and sensitive data at some level, they must be confident that their chosen cloud provider has robust security systems and controls in place.
In the public cloud space, there are plenty of big names to choose from. Many offer broadly similar benefits so the decision often comes down to cost and the ease of migration/integration. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is often more cost-efficient but if your business has already invested largely in Microsoft then Azure can offer a simpler integration.
The decision process surrounding private cloud providers may be more complex. You will need to evaluate resiliency, service level agreements (SLAs) and whether additional services, such as patching, maintenance and upgrades, are included and balance this against the cost.
Why should you consider investing now?
The pandemic has changed the way we work for the long-term, if not permanently in some cases. Now businesses have seen the success of remote working first-hand, they may question whether large offices are necessary or even if all employees need to be in the same geographical location – or time zone. If they want to continue working in this way, at least in some capacity, that the cloud will be necessary to achieve this.
Internal systems can have capacity restrictions, be more open to security compromises and require costly upgrades. In comparison, the cloud can offer huge scalability, flexibility and, in some cases, greater security. For those companies whose operations have remained largely the same and have the budget, then investing can not only enhance your operations but could save your money in the long run. In order to achieve the full benefits though, businesses must have a clear understanding of their business requirements so they can select a vendor and solution which will support this.
How can QuoStar help you?
Our consultants have over 15 years’ experience analysing and auditing cloud solutions for mid-market and growth businesses.
We work across the full cloud spectrum, from designing and deploying private platforms, customising hybrid solutions and working with public options like Azure and AWS.
Our vendor-neutral approach ensures we recommend the solution which best supports your business requirements. Get started with a free online review with a consultant.