How to decide between public and private cloud providers

If you’re running a business, chances are you’re already using some service from cloud providers. This could be your accounting program, a data-storage application or a project-management tool.

And you’re probably wondering how your business could be further leveraging the cloud to increase efficiency and reduce running costs. More and more businesses are moving away from on-premise servers and infrastructure, instead adopting a total cloud IT environment.

According to research from the International Data Corporation, global IT hardware budgets for on-premise infrastructure were predicted to decline by four per cent in 2016, as service providers and enterprises move to the cloud.

Having your entire IT environment in the cloud reduces the need to host, update, maintain or backup IT environments, so you no longer have to invest in on-premise servers, expensive hardware and support costs.

Deciding which type of cloud (public, private or a hybrid) is best for your business will depend on the level of resources you have to commit and how you’re planning to utilise the cloud.

Public cloud providers

Public cloud has been the fastest growing cloud segment to date and is dominated by providers such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft. These services provided are standardised and offered to many clients who all share the same infrastructure.

Its benefits include:

  • Being dominated by large established players, public cloud providers tend to offer advanced technology
  • Having no geographical restrictions, it makes access easy no matter where you are
  • Can have lower upfront fees than other cloud solutions

Its challenges are:

  • The larger the portion of your business you have on public cloud, the more complicated it will be and you’ll probably need to employ a dedicated cloud expert to manage your IT.
  • Public cloud can also be rigid, automated and impersonal because it’s about offering a standardised service to all users to get economies of scale. Customisation, legacy applications and business applications cannot be easily catered for.
  • Data sovereignty: Data saved in public clouds means your data is stored on a server in a different country, governed by an entirely different set of security and/or privacy regulations.
  • Public cloud providers often don’t offer protection against viruses, ransomware and malware as part of the offering but as an extra, if at all. In some instances, your data may not be backed up and recoverable if things go wrong.

Private cloud providers

The biggest misconception about private cloud is that it is on-premise, hosted in an organisation’s data centre. While this can be the case, a growing segment is off-premise. By using a private cloud provider, you take advantage of shared IT resources across multiple applications and/or locations.

Its benefits are:

  • Having more personalised service, making it more flexible and customisable to meet individual business requirements
  • Getting increased security and more likely, being able to know where the data centres holding your data are located and the security measures in place
  • Offering usually the latest protection against viruses, ransomware and malware, as well as data backup and recovery

Its challenges are:

  • You’ll need to spend some time finding the right provider for your business, ensuring your line of business applications are supported.
  • There may be a higher initial outlay than public cloud, although in the long term you will find that this balances out and it actually becomes more cost-effective.
  • Businesses can potentially opt for a hosting service rather than a true cloud provider. Asking for an upfront fee is a common indicator of hosting services – technology services that host either your servers or purchases servers for you and run in another location. These services are often not available directly from the internet, needing the likes of a VPN or direct line.

If you’re looking at moving more of your business to the cloud this year, there are plenty of options to choose from. By understanding what different options offer, you can make a more informed decision for your business that will hopefully help you run more efficiently and enable growth.

Andrew Tucker, CEO, ITonCloud

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