INTRODUCTION

In the past year or two it feels like cloud computing has finally matured and come of age, hitting that critical tipping point where it’s being used ubiquitously by companies of all sizes – no longer just by larger companies or those who are highly technical. This is rightly so in my opinion as the advantages of cloud computing, more often than not, far outweigh the benefits of maintaining your own IT services.

Whilst there’s a lot talked about the pros and cons of cloud computing in general, not as much is said about the different types of cloud available, namely public, private and hybrid. One of the problems you may face when choosing a cloud provider is ensuring you pick the right cloud offering to suit your requirements.

In this three-part blog we’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of all three to help you understand the differences and hopefully give you the knowledge to choose what will best suit your own requirements. First up, public clouds…

PUBLIC CLOUD

A public cloud is open to the general public and delivered over shared infrastructure. Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine are examples of large-scale public cloud offerings. With these types of cloud you can sign-up online very quickly, choose the resources you need and swiftly deploy a virtual infrastructure.

Public cloud offerings are typically very cheap and have very much become a commodity-based service, offering a one-size-fits-all solution where you have little say in the technological infrastructure. They are ideal for companies who have a basic need for infrastructure but don’t require their solution to be tailored to any specific requirements they may have.

Support is often limited and management is rarely provided, so a public cloud provider is usually more suited to organisations that have a high degree of technical knowledge in-house.

Possibly the biggest concern over a public cloud is security and data privacy. You will probably never know exactly where your data is being hosted and so to what laws it is subject to, such as the Patriot Act in the USA. Because of this, data sovereignty is an increasingly prominent issue and many customers are opting for public cloud providers based in the UK or EU. Also, the use of shared infrastructure means you don’t know who your ‘digital neighbours’ are – and if they are behaving poorly it can have knock-on effect to the performance and reliability of your solution.

PROS

  • Usually cheap
  • Simple sign-up process
  • Quick to deploy a virtual infrastructure
  • Quick and easy to scale resources

CONS

  • Not ideal for applications that require high security or transmit/store sensitive data
  • Limited ability to tailor a solution to your requirements
  • You need to have a high degree of technical knowledge in-house
  • Limited support and management

IDEAL USES

  • Software development test environments
  • Hosting applications that don’t require data security or legal requirement to know exactly where data is hosted


Come back next week for Part Two: Private Clouds.