The IoT will enable people to connect just about everything: objects, sensors, mobile devices, and servers, among other things. These things will be able to gather information, which can be shared in real-time. Cloud computing enables people to store, access, and interpret this information and act on it. But what type of cloud is best?
Businesses and individuals contemplating getting on to the cloud have three choices: get on the public cloud, create their own private cloud, or use something in between with a hybrid cloud setup. Finding the right one for your project begins with understanding the differences.
Public clouds are those that offer infrastructure and services off-site and over the Internet. This is just perfect for those who want to have a standardized workload for email, Wikis, and other services used by a lot of employees. This is also great for those who need incremental capacity, want to do some collaboration with people from outside the company, or want to use a software-as-a-service application offered by a vendor. It is also good for those who are developing software and want to test application code.
Public clouds are pretty easy to set up, and they are very efficient when it comes to shared resources. Unfortunately, public clouds are also notoriously unreliable and not secure. This whitepaper from IBM outlines the problems nicely.
Because of the public cloud’s availability and security concerns, a lot of businesses are moving their IT to somewhere they can control: on their own private network. The drawback to a private cloud is that it often requires the business to buy the necessary infrastructure equipment and software. Further, it will need to maintain that equipment and software to keep the cloud running. These efforts reduce the benefits companies could get from cloud computing, such as agility and cutting costs.
But for some businesses, the decision to go private is made easier by a number of factors. For example, companies whose main business is to provide applications and keep data often opt to go for private clouds. So, too, do companies that belong to an industry with strict data privacy and security regulations.
If you’re a large business that can run private network platforms efficiently, you might be better off with the private cloud option.
Hybrid clouds involve multiple providers offering different services. The idea is to choose a cloud service provider that is the best at what you need. In time, you might be getting email from one provider and development platforms from another, while a third provider hosts your website and databases. All the while, you are maintaining your own datacenter. It really is not just putting your eggs in several baskets, but putting them in the best baskets possible.
You can certainly appreciate the logic of working with the experts for your needed services, but the hybrid approach does get complicated. This is especially true if you have to deal with different providers with multiple security platforms and different service level agreements. Plus, you would also need to manage public and private cloud computing providers as well as your own datacenter. It is quite easy to get overwhelmed.
Hybrid clouds would be just perfect for companies that use a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application but are very concerned about security. The SaaS provider will create a private network for your business within its own infrastructure and let you access it. If your company deals with client data, you can use a public cloud service to interact with clients and then move all that information on to a private cloud.
So what will you need?
In terms of your application’s lifecycle, you might first want to make use of public clouds to test out your programs without having to spend a lot of money and time getting on to the cloud. You would be like most startups that use mostly public clouds for developing their software and applications. Once you get things rolling, it’s time to move to a hybrid cloud and get the software, platform. and infrastructure you need. As you grow, you might need to come up with your own datacenters to help keep your data secure and to help analyze and process it.
Of course, the sequence would depend on the application, as well. Healthcare-related apps, such as those that collect pacemaker data or monitor your blood pressure, are highly regulated. This requirement is bound to rule out the risky public clouds to ensure patient privacy. In fact, any application that deals with sensitive and personal data is probably going to need to rule out the public cloud. That leaves starting with a hybrid cloud and moving to a private cloud when your size and data requirements reach appropriate levels.