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Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud – The Discussion Continues . . .

When businesses mention cloud computing, they’re normally assumed to be referring to public clouds

Public cloud, private cloud and the hybrid this the modern day love triangle? Although cloud computing has come a long way, many enterprises, large and small, are unclear about the concept and what will work best for them.

When businesses mention cloud computing, they're normally assumed to be referring to public clouds. Public clouds are those in which a service provider makes resources, such as applications and storage, available to the general public over the Internet.

Private clouds, I believe, are like data centers on the Web - the data lies behind firewalls and is securely protected. Companies that can afford to build their own private clouds are continuing to take that route, and companies that can't are using such platforms as Amazon EC2.

But there's now a third category in the mix - the hybrid cloud. The hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment in which an organization provides and manages some resources in-house and has others provided externally.

Using either of these platforms has its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, when using the public cloud, the computing power makes it easy to set up IT services without the overhead cost of hardware or software installations. In addition, companies can use public clouds to scale operations up or down, depending on the capacity needed. They can increase computing power during the end of a month, for example, when payroll and invoice applications will be running hot. However, the problem many enterprises have with public clouds is the lack of control over the resources available. They often see large public clouds as having issues with the security of sensitive data, service-level agreements or network performance.

Companies that need more control over the data they put into the cloud, or that need to ensure high-performance from the network, migrate toward private clouds. Private clouds give companies the cost benefits of having data in the cloud but the flexibility of keeping confidential data within the company and behind its own firewall. Companies that provide transactional data, such as e-commerce or data-transfer, need allocated resources to ensure customers and internal resources can rely on steady network performance without breaks in availability.

This reality leads many organizations to move toward a hybrid cloud model, which enables companies to use a public cloud service, such as Amazon's EC2, for general computing but store customer data within its own data center. This model basically allows a company to use its existing data center equipment where secure data is stored on the company network, while at the same time allowing for unlimited scalability in processing power on the cloud. It helps alleviate the fear some organizations have of the public cloud, yet at the same time reaps the benefits provided by it. Some of the benefits of a hybrid cloud model depend on:

Simply stated, cloud computing business models eliminate costs for companies across the board. However, by picking and choosing the types of cloud applications to implement, businesses can cut costs even further by only choosing to spend money on those applications or data they want to put in a private cloud and those that should be housed in a public cloud.

Seasonal businesses are the most likely to be drawn to the elasticity and scalability of public clouds. However, these fluctuations are common for many companies working with confidential data, such as tax applications, holiday shopping season transactions and data back-up applications. Therefore, they require the security provided by private clouds. The ability to pick and choose between clouds and to scale power is one of the largest benefits of the hybrid model.

I believe the hybrid model will grow as new innovations and technology continue to enable the way businesses use cloud computing. New clouds are emerging on a regular basis, and each one has improved scalability, security and a variety of other options that will tantalize organizations of all sizes that are considering or already using cloud computing options.

Economies of Scale
Today, many start-ups rely on cloud infrastructure and, as companies are emerging, it is definitely a viable option. The economies of scale, however, may cease to exist as companies grow and evolve. With that in mind, many companies opt for the hybrid model, which allows them the flexibility of using on-premise servers in addition to the benefits and scalability of the cloud.

Deciding which type of cloud to use when implementing cloud computing is largely based on the type of service the company performs and, within that business model, the elements that are most important to the company. There is no right or wrong way to use cloud computing applications, options and power; it is up to companies to determine the elements that fit best into their business model, expectations and customers' needs.

In my opinion the "hybrid cloud" is the way of the future. Enterprises making the transition will continue to employ a mix of on-premise servers and outsourced computing resources as that's the model that offers the maximum flexibility and suits today's data requirements.

More Stories By Ranjith Kumaran

Ranjith Kumaran is the founder and Chief Technology Officer for YouSendIt, the trusted global leader in digital content delivery. In this role, he manages the Customer Service, IT, and Ops teams to guarantee optimum customer service, and efficiency in the IT and Ops departments.

Prior to YouSendIt, Kumaran held marketing positions at Verisity Design, a key provider of verification process automation (VPA) solutions, where he managed product marketing for the software tools of Access Systems. Previously, he was the director of sales engineering at Celoxica, a leading provider of C-based design and behavioral synthesis tools, where he built the company's sales applications and established its engineering team.

Kumaran also was a software systems engineer at Red Hat, one of the largest and most recognized companies dedicated to open-source software and the largest distributor of the GNU/Linux operating system.

Kumaran received a bachelor of engineering degree in computer engineering from McGill University and is an active member of TiE Silicon Valley.

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