By Cyril Rocke
More and more enterprises are realizing the importance of cloud computing as they see other companies gaining a dramatic edge through highly improved productivity without spending a lot on infrastructure expenses. IT experts predict that both big and small companies will be switching a large part of their data to the cloud within the next couple of years.
But for those who have yet to join this technology migration, it is important to know well the differences between the types of cloud and how beneficial these can be to companies.
Infrastructure and security
Private cloud is an infrastructure that is dedicated to a given customer. Conversely, public cloud is an infrastructure shared among many customers. In the latter, all the customers are on the same hardware or in the same platform or in the same database and are all using the same application. Simply put, it is a ?one size fits all? where every infrastructure has the same features.
There is a perception that if the infrastructure is shared such as Gmail, Facebook and the like, the data are mingled in the same database of the same machine as everybody else?s. So we are talking about the information of millions of people with the expectation that no one is trying to check and look at your data.
Still, if somebody wants to find you, there is the possibility for a system administrator to look for data of a specific customer. This scenario can pose a risk of security breach. In practice though, measures can be defined to assure that each customer is totally isolated.
Thus, when it comes to security, a private cloud is more protected because each customer is assigned a special or a virtual machine to avoid sharing it with other customers. This reduces the risk within that virtual machine of attempts by one application to access the data of another application.
We, at DataOne, can further say that there is a physical hardware per customer that is not shared with other users. We try to ensure that physically, there is no leakage of data from one machine to the other.
Furthermore, a private cloud will essentially assign a specific infrastructure to a given customer, as applications might be different from one client to the other. For example, when DataOne writes emails to customers, it is always specific to every customer. We don?t offer one size that fits all.
Individual private cloud infrastructures are customized, isolated, and dependent on what our customers want. We can segregate as much as what clients want, to provide a higher level of security. If you have, or want, a highly customized infrastructure, then go for a private cloud.
It is necessary to mention, at this point, that the issues of bandwidth between public and private clouds are totally different and that there is no connection between public cloud and bandwidth. Bandwidth and the nature of the cloud are truly different. It has to do with security and customization.
Things to consider
Definitely, public cloud is cheaper. It is like a budget airline where you share as much as you can, where everything is standardized, and there is no customization.
Still, when looking for a cloud service provider, CEOs and CIOs should first decide what the cloud is to be used for. For instance, if they?ll be using the cloud for non-critical applications like Facebook and YouTube, then they just have to make sure that the company?s Facebook or YouTube accounts are very well managed.
On the other hand, for mission critical applications that are crucial to the business and contain highly confidential data, which warrant a private cloud, company heads should take note of these criteria when choosing a cloud provider:
1. There should be data restrictions. The cloud provider has to validate who can access the data.
2. The system should always be available, without any downtime.
3. Data should be highly secured, as data loss is equivalent to data theft.
4. Service should be of high quality. Because the system is very complex, despite having in-house experts, the company should be able to rely on a cloud provider that can provide guidance and make sure that all changes and migration are managed in a specific manner.
Integration of private and public clouds
The main reason why companies turn to the cloud is the speed of being able to roll out or implement infrastructure as well as the ability to scale up and down with regards to the capacity without having to buy equipment. They want to be able to have access to the world standard without having to build a team.
Certain companies choose private cloud because bigger cloud providers are able to get all the certification required to provide a high level of security, uptime, and compliance to the certain industry. Having said that, a private cloud is obviously more expensive than public cloud.
This is where the hybrid cloud comes in, which is a combination of private and public clouds. Companies who do hybrid have identified what is truly important in their business and are willing to pay for guaranteed security along with some backup that is with a public cloud provider.
So one possibility is combining the high level of DataOne?s services that provides security and support with a lower cost platform outside the country. It gives you more flexibility to lower costs.
I understand that large telcos in the Philippines are now using private cloud to run their operations, like accounting or billing, in the country while also using Google outside the country to run their emails.
But you can do Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in both private and public clouds. We offer this on private cloud for customers with highly secure data. It is like Gmail, which is a SaaS, that is more customized or more specific rather than generic.
So it is an evaluation between cost and performance. An enterprise may have assessed that public cloud is secure enough to use for a certain operation but may not meet the criteria to run more critical operations. This is why companies have to analyze and decide what type of cloud is best for their applications.
Private vs. public vs. hybrid clouds
The differences between these three are costs and benefits. However, there is no perfect solution. If I am the CEO of a company and I run a lot of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or billing system that is absolutely mission critical, I will choose to run it in a private cloud.
But if I run a company website, sales force automation or maybe certain emails, these can be acceptable to run in a public cloud. Nevertheless, there are certain cases, like in the government, wherein emails might not be acceptable to be done in a public cloud. So it really depends on the user.
In addition, one of the benefits of using the public cloud is that it is easier to scale compared to private cloud, which is strictly dedicated and needs more planning to make it also easier to scale.
Public cloud also allows you a lot of flexibility but less customization and possibly, less security. Here, you cannot customize security because it is already a given.
I will not say that using public cloud is a bad decision for a company. It should just depend on the application you are using and its nature. If it?s mission critical, then the only way is to go for the private cloud.
In DataOne, we primarily offer managed private cloud because our main focus is the security of mission critical applications.
The author is the president and CEO of DataOne Asia Philippines