These days, everyone is talking about the cloud. In many ways, it is a revolutionary means of connecting, storing and sharing information, and enterprises all over the world are discovering the benefits of using the cloud in conjunction with unified communications (UC) solutions. But, as with every technology, there are variations, and it’s important to understand the differences in order to choose the cloud service that works best for you as part of a UC approach.
Public clouds, such as Amazon EC2 and Rackspace (News - Alert) Cloud, typically operate under the pay-as-you-go model, meaning that users pay by the hour or by unit of data storage for the service. For this reason, smaller companies may find public cloud services advantageous. They tend to be very economical, so long as you don’t have much data to store or manage, because you’ll be paying for and managing it yourself—your provider won’t manage it for you. If you’re technologically inclined and prefer to handle all of those details yourself, public cloud can be a great option, but for a fully managed solution you will have to seek another type of cloud service.
Public cloud offers a lot of freedom for users, as it requires no contract. There is no legal obligation for a company or individual to continue using a public cloud until a certain time period has ended. In other words, you can take down your server from the cloud whenever you want, without penalty.
One thing to keep in mind with public cloud is that, by its very definition, you are storing your server on a shared environment, on common hardware, and you cannot cherry pick the hardware or specs you would prefer—what you get is what the service provider has available. As a result, you will also share storage and network devices with other tenants in the cloud, so if your company requires certain compliance standards, such as PCI (News - Alert) or SOX, you will not be able to do so using public cloud services.
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Unlike public clouds, the hardware of private clouds is dedicated, meaning that you will pay through contracted services rather than by a pay-as-you-go plan. There are some trade-offs when choosing private over public, such as the added expense and loss in flexibility (if you want more storage space on a public cloud, for instance, you simply upgrade your service without needing to install any additional servers yourself). However, for larger companies and enterprise-level organizations, private clouds are appealing because they can be customized to meet a host of specific needs and, as such, can be tailored for high volumes of data and high demands.
This level of customization also means that companies can build high levels of security into their servers, which cannot be accessed by other clients in the same data center. And with hardware, storage and network configuration dedicated solely to your company, it’s much easier to meet compliance standards.
For enterprises interested in some of the benefits the cloud can bring, but that aren’t ready to make a full switch, there are hybrid deployments, otherwise known as “hybrid cloud” options. Say your company needs to run a demanding, high-speed application, or you need additional storage space for files and advanced software that your local, dedicated hardware can’t handle. Using a hybrid solution, a company can move applications, databases, software and more to a private cloud environment, merging the solution between virtual servers and dedicated servers.
The private cloud and dedicated hardware can both be configured to support the interoperability to make the exchange as smooth as possible. In that sense, hybridizing your company is just expanding the capacity of your existing hardware without the need to purchase and install more equipment onsite.
With the boom of cloud services, these three options have emerged to meet the needs of any client. Big or small, tech savvy or not, equipped with existing hardware or starting from scratch, every company’s requirements will be different, and it’s important to understand the differences between public, private and hybrid cloud services in order to find the perfect fit.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson