How to choose between public, private and hybrid cloud services

Do you know the differences between the different types of cloud service? Here are the basic facts about what public, private and hybrid cloud services are and how your business can use them.

There is a lot of talk about cloud computing. It’s an easy concept to understand: cloud computing is simply processing and storing your data on the internet rather than your own PC or a computer in your office. So if you are using Gmail, or Office Online or Apple iCloud, you are using the cloud. However, to make things a little more difficult, cloud computing comes in a number of different flavours.

First of all there is the public cloud. Anyone can use a public cloud service if they sign up to it. It is convenient: you don’t need to test anything to see if it works and you don’t have to maintain it. Public cloud services are cost-effective because running costs are shared across many users. The downside is that you have to trust that they are secure (they generally are) and you have to hope that that they can always provide you with the services they promise (they can’t always, although outages generally only last minutes).

Given those downsides, perhaps you are better off with a private cloud service. This is a cloud system operated specifically for your organisation, which means you have more control over how it is managed. All your data can be placed behind your own firewall on computers you own or rent. Because you are not sharing any resources with other organisations, security is greater and management issues such as restoring data from backed-up copies (in the event of a ransomware attack, say) or updating the information in backups is much easier. In fact, private clouds are pretty good solutions, if you have the management resources to ensure they are efficient. But they tend to cost a lot more than public cloud services.

So for many organisations, a hybrid cloud solution is the best of both worlds as they provide a great deal of flexibility. For instance, some of your data and IT services can be in the public cloud, while others (like the connection to the public cloud) are managed securely in the private cloud. This means you can make choices about security and perhaps store sensitive personal and strategic data in the private cloud, while everything else is in the public cloud.

Public, private or hybrid: which is best? The right answer will depend on your resources, the growth pattern of your business and the amount you need to worry about security.

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