Cloud models are continuing to evolve as business drivers push more organizations towards a more globally distributed infrastructure. Many companies are actively moving parts of their environments into the cloud for more efficiency, agility and capabilities around growth. This is a major push which has helped data centers come to the forefront of the technological evolution and has allowed more organizations to leverage their services. Costs are coming down and the environments supporting the cloud are becoming more stable.
Now, with mobility, consumerization and big data all playing a major role in how organizations develop their IT and business plans, it’s important to understand the various cloud models.
The beauty of cloud computing is its ability to create truly diverse and flexible environments which directly fit in with what a business is trying to accomplish. Many organizations are seeing the benefits of cloud computing since they are able to expand their environment without having to place a massive budget on upfront server and data center costs. Depending on the needs of the organization, IT managers may decide to go with one or several options when it comes to picking the right cloud model. For the most part, there are four major types of cloud technologies which can be adopted by an organization.
- Private clouds are great solutions for organizations looking to keep their hardware locally managed. A good example here would be application virtualization technologies requiring a local and private presence. Users have access to these applications both internally and externally from any device, anytime and anywhere. Still, these workloads are privately managed by the organization and delivered over the WAN down to the end-user. These private clouds can be located either on premises at an existing datacenter, or remotely at a privately held datacenter location. Either way, this private cloud topology is not outsourced and is directly managed by the IT team of a given organization.
- Public clouds are perfect for organizations looking to expand their testing or development environment. Many companies simply don’t want to pay for equipment that will only be used temporarily. This is where the "pay-as-you-go" model really works out well. IT administrators are able to provision cloud-ready resources as they need them to deploy test servers or even create a DR site directly in the cloud. With a public cloud offering, businesses can take advantage of third-party providers and use non-corporate owned equipment only as the IT environment requires. This is where economies of scale truly work best. The ability to provision new servers and resources without having to pay for physical hardware can be a very efficient model for organizations looking to offload their hardware footprint. Still, even in a public cloud, monitoring the environment and managing resources will be very important.
- Hybrid clouds are being adopted by numerous organizations looking to leverage the direct benefits of both a private and public cloud environment. In a hybrid cloud, companies can still leverage third-party cloud providers in either a full or partial manner. This increases the flexibility of computing. The hybrid cloud environment is also capable of providing on-demand, externally-provisioned scalability. Augmenting a traditional private cloud with the resources of a public cloud can be used to manage any unexpected surges in workload. This is where workflow automation can really help out. If an organization has peak usage times, they are able to offload their user base to cloud-based computers which are provisioned only on demand. This means that these resources are only being used as needed. So, for organizations still looking to keep a portion of their cloud environment private, but still use elements of the public cloud offering – moving to a hybrid cloud may be the right solution.
- Community clouds are a somewhat new breed in the cloud computing world. Many organizations are beginning to use a community cloud to test-drive some high-end security products or even test out some features of a public cloud environment. Instead of just provisioning space in a public cloud, organizations can test and work on a cloud platform which is secure, "dedicated" and even compliant with certain regulations. The really interesting part is that with a community cloud, the presence can be either onsite or offsite. Another great example would be the need to for a provider to host a specific application on a set of cloud-based servers. Instead of giving each organization their own server in the cloud for this app, the hosting company allows multiple customers to connect into their environment and logically segment their sessions. Although the customer is hitting the same server as other people for that application; the session itself is completely secure and segmented.
When working with a private, public, hybrid or community cloud environment, planning will be the most important deployment step. During the planning phase, engineers and architects will examine how to build out their cloud environment and size it for future growth. By forecasting growth over a span of one, two and three years, IT managers can be ready for spikes in usage and be prepared for the growth demands of the business. This level of preparedness is called cloud growth agility. This means that the environment has been proactively sized and is ready to take on additional users as required by organizational demands.
Before the cloud, many companies looking to expand upon their current environment would have to buy new space, new hardware and deploy workloads based on a set infrastructure. Now that WAN connectivity has greatly improved, cloud-based offerings are much more attractive. The emergence of the cloud has helped many organizations expand beyond their current physical datacenter. New types of cloud-based technologies allow IT environments to truly consolidate and grow their infrastructure quickly, and, more importantly affordably.