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Cloud computing today has evolved to become both ubiquitous and essential. Although there are a wide range of types and architectures, most fall within the three main classifications: public, private or hybrid. Deployment of the cloud could take a number of different formats, including Software as a Service (SaaS), and underlying infrastructure architecture is evolving all the time. However, the most crucial distinction to start with is the key differences between private, public and hybrid clouds.

The public cloud

The most common option for cloud deployment, the public cloud is the property of a service provider and delivered via the internet. Servers, storage, hardware and software are all owned and maintained by the service provider and shared among users. The public cloud can be used for everything, from storage and email to more complex purposes, such as development and testing.

  • No large up front investment required e.g. in hardware or software
  • Easy to scale to meet need, even if unexpected
  • Less IT burden, as management is the role of the service provider
  • Flexible pricing and costs driven by need
  • Highly reliable – networks are insulated against failure

Ideal for: organisations with predictable IT needs

The private cloud

A private cloud is designated for use by a single organisation and could be located on site at that organisation or with a third party service provider. It tends to be a more expensive option, as there is investment required in order to set up. A private cloud is often a choice for larger organisations with more significant data management needs, highly regulated businesses and those that require advanced security.

  • Increased security – services and infrastructure are on a private network and hardware and software are for single organisation use
  • Can be designed to meet compliance standards - protocols, configurations and measures can be run to meet industry standards and workload needs
  • Easier to customise to the individual needs of the business
  • Infrastructure can be evolved to keep up with the changing requirements of the business
  • High level of performance and efficiency

Ideal for: businesses with much larger IT budgets and more stringent security needs

The hybrid cloud

The option of a hybrid cloud brings together different components from both the public and private cloud. For example, a private cloud component may be used to handle IT workload with public cloud capacity to cope with a seasonal spike in workload increase. Integration between the public and private cloud elements should be seamless.

  • More scalable without the inherent security risk of the public cloud
  • More opportunities for advanced security as a result of private cloud elements
  • Efficient and reliable thanks to distribution across multiple data centres
  • Control over sensitive assets
  • A cost effective approach – additional resources can be paid for only when required

Ideal for: businesses looking to optimise cloud investment by taking advantage of the benefits of both public and private cloud technologies

These are the basic distinctions between public, private and hybrid cloud technology. The right choice of architecture will be different for every organisation.

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