To say that cloud computing is an important part of the modern-day enterprise is something of a dramatic understatement. According to one recent study, not only does the average enterprise use approximately 1,427 distinct cloud services as of 2017 (a massive 300% increase from just a few years prior in 2013), but the average employee also actively uses about 36 different cloud-based services throughout their day. Collaboration. File-sharing. Content-sharing. Innovation. All of these terms have taken on new meaning as the cloud has become a more ubiquitous part of our lives over the last few years.
Yet at the same time, many IT professionals who are accustomed to working in traditional IT environments tend to make certain assumptions about just what “the cloud” really means and what it truly has to offer. Everyone seems to acknowledge that the cloud itself will only continue to get more important, but the actual shape that this future innovation takes is up for debate. Some will tout the level of control offered by the private cloud, while others champion the agility and cost-effectiveness that the public cloud has become known for.
In truth, this is one of those situations where everyone is more or less correct, just not necessarily in the ways you might think.
There are three main types of cloud-based deployments that professionals need to concern themselves with: the public cloud, the private cloud and the “corporate private” (or hybrid) cloud. Understanding what each one offers is one of the keys to ending up with the right cloud environment that will actually meet a particular company’s needs.
What’s in “The Cloud”? Breaking It Down
As stated, there are three main types of cloud environments that businesses are currently experimenting with. These include the following:
- The public cloud. In this type of environment, all services and a general infrastructure are provided off-site and over an active Internet connection to end users. These clouds are typically known to offer a higher level of efficiency in terms of shared resources, but at the same time are also naturally more vulnerable than private clouds.
- The private cloud. In this type of environment, the aforementioned services and infrastructure are all maintained on a private network, usually on-site. This offers by far the highest levels of security and control, but they also require a company to invest in both purchasing and maintaining all necessary resources – thus eating into some of the cost savings that the cloud was supposed to usher in to begin with.
- The hybrid cloud. As the name suggests, this essentially spreads out cloud-based services and aspects of your infrastructure across both public and private options from multiple providers. Simply put, it’s like having a private cloud and a public cloud rolled into one package. The major benefit of this is that you can keep each aspect of your business in the most efficient environment possible, depending on your needs.
The Transitional Benefits of the Hybrid Cloud
The major reason why a hybrid cloud can help an organization transition to a full-throttle cloud environment ultimately comes down to the unique benefits that only this type of configuration offers. Never forget that there is truly no one-size-fits-all approach to migrating to the cloud. Only by taking the time and care to identify your needs and to examine how technology actually aligns with your long-term goals will you stand a chance of creating the type of environment that is the perfect fit for your organization.
The hybrid cloud, by its very nature, puts you in the best position to do precisely that. The fact of the matter is that not everything necessarily needs to be housed on-site. If your goal is to standardize the workload for applications that are used for a lot of people (think: email) or you need the ability to add computing capacity to account for seasonal fluctuations, the public cloud will serve you well.
But on the other hand, if your business is operating in an industry with strict data and privacy regulations (like healthcare) or if your business literally is your data and applications, there are certain situations where a public cloud is in no way acceptable and a private cloud is absolutely the way to go.
For companies in a transitional period (as so many currently are), the hybrid cloud becomes the most logical middle ground. What needs to be hosted on-site can be, and everything else can take full advantage of what the public cloud has to offer. You’re no longer forced to make this an “either/or” situation and can instead enjoy as many of the benefits of ALL types of cloud deployments with as few of the downsides as possible.
In the End
One of the most important things to understand about all of this is that the hybrid cloud is absolutely a formidable alternative to continuing to host all of your data on-site. In fact, many companies are using a hybrid solution as a way to transition from the legacy environment they’ve always relied on to the type of cloud environment that will allow them to tackle the challenges of tomorrow head-on. In a lot of ways, the hybrid cloud offers the best of both worlds – the agility of the public cloud and the control of the private cloud rolled into a solution that also positions them well to become fully immersed in the cloud over the next few years.