Private vs. Public Cloud Debate Continues

And the winner is…hybrid.

Well not completely yet but in many circles it continues to be one way that larger companies are balancing the ease of entry via a public cloud against the greater security and control of a private cloud. In these companies, the hybrid approach gets them in and yet provides at least a portion of their most critical data and applications to be under the direct control of the business. However, hybrid is not the way many early cloud adopters went, preferring to build their own clouds and openly arguing against the public approach.

Don’t think that the public clouds take the criticism lightly, they point to how broadly many in IT’s definition of a cloud is. In fact Amazon Web Services CTO Wener Vogels refers to private clouds as “false clouds” that are designed to get enterprises to buy more hardware.

In a recent TechTarget article, Modern Infrastructure Editor in Chief Alex Barrett observes “Part of private cloud’s problem could be IT’s loosey-goosey interpretation about what it is — and therefore what it brings to the table. Experts define a private cloud as dedicated resources running behind the firewall that are organized into an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud computing platform. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in turn, says that an IaaS cloud must include five essential characteristics to be a true cloud: on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity and measured service.”

Yet those who have deployed private clouds insist they would have it no other way. The fact that private cloud deployments lag behind public in their opinion isn’t necessarily that important. Public clouds serve an important purpose and for some they are a perfect solution for either quickly getting a startup off the ground or expanding IT capabilities without huge CapEx investments.

Yet the private cloud makes sense to those who need cloud services but want to keep them under tighter control, more secure or simply don’t need to serve more than a smaller footprint. It makes some sense to consider your business needs and the geography of your end-users before you decide to deploy a global cloud when you only have a regional footprint.

The use of open source private cloud technologies is growing and there are several, some more mature than others yet many that are starting to be readily adopted for private cloud deployments. Many of these, like marketing automation company Hubspot, have built an internal cloud infrastructure while still running a large percentage of their operation on AWS. It is their plan to eventually migrate all but the emerging or high-growth applications on AWS to their private cloud.

There is at least one other very critical issue for the biggest clouds that may increasingly move businesses to consider only hybrid or private. Privacy concerns, particularly as a result of the federal anti-terrorist program PRISM and the growing concern about AWS’ global footprint leading to cyber threats to personal data. AWS’ size alone makes it a very tempting target for everything from cyber terrorism to simple hacking attempts. Some enterprises view private clouds as simply safer because they can be deployed in facilities and on networks closer to home. These smaller deployments also make for smaller less attractive targets.

The debate is likely to continue but if your company is considering any of the current cloud options you should consider utilizing outside experts to help match your business, its needs and its geographic requirements to the right solution for taking advantage of cloud computing. In many cases these can be offshore firms who have both the expertise and implementation personnel available but at rates hard to find in the U.S and other more developed nations. These are teams that have been cultivated to provide low cost high value technology development services and have well educated folks available at an amazingly low cost.

You may not be ready to deploy your cloud yet but most companies in the future will be using some form or another as the Internet increasingly becomes one big programmable operating system.

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