A Public, Private, or Hybrid Cloud Debate? Not Really

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Kris Bliesner is CEO and Co-Founder of 2nd Watch, Inc. Among other areas, he is responsible for the strategic development of 2nd Watch’s cloud based software solutions.

Kris-Bliesner-tnKRIS BLIESNET
2nd Watch

Most IT professionals and market researchers contend that while the majority of businesses today are eyeing a hybrid cloud deployment, that’s really because they’re being conservative. When it comes to debating the merits of public, private and hybrid, there really is no debate at all. It all comes down to the public cloud adding the most value. Here is why:

1. Start-up companies need the public cloud. These companies are often involved in development with uncertain requirements. They don’t know what they might need day-to-day. And many can be on a very tight timeline to get their products to market. These situations mandate a public cloud deployment, like Amazon Web services (AWS), where more (or less) resources can be configured and absorbed in a matter of minutes. While they might maintain a small infrastructure onsite, the majority of their infrastructure simply has to be in the public cloud.

2. Enterprises have a need for redundancy and disaster recovery. Taking AWS as an example, this cloud option can be incredibly redundant if you utilize its lesser-known features – region-to-region redundancy. This means that infrastructure is backed up in different data centers. Many AWS customers don’t consider this, and feel that multiple zones in the same region are enough. However, opting for region-to-region puts data and virtual infrastructure in two very different locations, and should anything happen to one, the odds are very small that anything will happen to the other. This can be mirrored with a private cloud deployment, but the cost is colossal.

3. There are mandatory regulations around compliance and security. Audits are often years behind the industry, but their rules can be challenged. We’ve seen customers exceeding auditors’ expectations, make a case for their architecture, and win, providing them with all the benefits of a public cloud architecture with all the security needed by common regulatory requirements. This is hard to replicate with private clouds, because with internal data protection you’re going to have internal SLAs and internal compliance checklists, which require frequent upkeep, higher costs and a more complicated infrastructure.

4. Web and cloud security present challenges. This landscape changes quickly, and should be a primary concern for any cloud-based deployment. Some perceive a public cloud infrastructure to be more vulnerable than a private cloud, but that’s actually a misconception. A private cloud allows IT to control the perimeter; but it’s also responsible for staying on top of a rapidly shifting security landscape and making all required fixes, updates, and upgrades. Public clouds take care of all that. Data is protected by both managed security on a software and physical level, since large-scale data centers like those used by public cloud providers have state-of-the-art security.

5. Budget is, of course, a huge factor. Companies with large amounts of infrastructure already installed might find it cheaper to implement a private cloud, since in many cases they already have the hardware as well as the operating systems and management tools required to build a private cloud. However, hardware infrastructure and the demands made on it by software – especially operating systems – changes about every 3-5 years. Public cloud deployments are 100 percent virtual, which means the hardware hosting those virtual machines is on the provider to keep the infrastructure current, and has significant long term cost savings. Smaller companies that need to stretch their investment as far as it can go will see those benefits right away. For this reason, the application-level services offered by partners and other customers of providers like AWS are a very attractive draw.
With all of the above said, private cloud is inefficient. It is built on a model that encourages bad over-provisioning. In fact. in order to get maximum benefit from private cloud – true elasticity – you have to over=provision. The public cloud, on the other hand, is the most widely applicable and delivers the most value to a majority of businesses. Is successful private cloud deployment possible? Of course. Is it efficient? No.

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