The Push and Pull Factors That Go into Choosing a Cloud Model
If you read last month’s blog and you’re ready to take your cloud knowledge a step further, you’re in the right place. If you haven’t read the article, it’s a super basic guide to understanding cloud models. Check it out here.
As we work with customers to develop their cloud strategy, we have three options to choose from: the public cloud, the private cloud, or a hybrid cloud model. Customers are often pulled to one for a variety of reasons, but there are a few key factors that stand out. Let’s call these the big five: cost, IT resources, reliability, scalability, and security and compliance. We’ll walk you through how each of these factors changes according to each cloud model.
Public cloud – organizations access IT resources and services over the internet
Cost: The public cloud is affordable for most organizations, but it can get pricier for midsize or large companies as usage grows. Unlike on-premises environments, it is not necessary to invest in hardware upfront for a cloud environment. Additionally, pricing can be flexible depending on the cloud provider and what services are needed. Some providers offer a free tier, while others rely on a subscription-based model. There are services like CloudCheckr that help organizations keep their total cost of ownership (TCO) down. Many partners have (including JetSweep) offer cost optimization services as well.
IT Resources: The public cloud can significantly reduce the workload of in-house IT personnel due to its reduced complexity. Cloud providers are responsible for managing and maintaining cloud hardware and infrastructure. This model often allows customers to refocus IT resources on innovative projects or revenue-generating work, not maintenance tasks. This can be particularly beneficial for companies that are small or have an IT team that is stretched thin.
Security and Compliance: Organizations using the public cloud share resources with multiple other companies. While security is part of the cloud providers’ routine maintenance, this alone is often not enough to sufficiently protect sensitive mission-critical workloads. Compared to private and hybrid cloud models, the public cloud offers the least technical control, which is often necessary for companies that have to meet compliance or regulatory standards.
Reliability: There are multiple flexible, cost-effective options to ensure high reliability and availability on the public cloud. One flexible, cost-effective option is to create backups and send them to other availability zones in other regions to address performance disruptions. Another option follows an active-active approach, in which a production environment runs in two different regions simultaneously. Both of these strategic options can ensure optimal reliability at a more cost-effective rate than on-premises environments.
Scalability: The public cloud is known for its high elasticity and scalability. Compared to on-premises environments that require large hardware investments to scale resources or even the private cloud, scaling on the public cloud is incredibly easy. Its elasticity allows organizations to keep up with peaks in demand that come on fast. Software developers also often scale test environments up and down in the public cloud.
Private Cloud – a cloud environment with dedicated use for one organization
Cost: The private cloud is the most expensive model, and smaller organizations often cannot justify the high TCO. Often, larger organizations invest in private cloud infrastructure because the improved efficiency, performance, and flexibility balance the price increase.
IT Resources: Unlike the public cloud, the private cloud can significantly increase the workload for in-house IT personnel. The private cloud can be hosted either in an on-premises data center or by a third-party vendor off-site. With a private cloud model, your organization is largely responsible for investing in hardware and performing maintenance.
Security and Compliance: The private cloud offers the most security of all three cloud models. On the private cloud, organizations do not share resources with other parties. All resources are dedicated to one organization, and security can be configurated to meet specific needs. For organizations with strict compliance or regulatory requirements, the private cloud is often their best choice.
Reliability: The private cloud improves reliability for high SLA performance and efficiency. For organizations that want a secure multi-zone environment with high reliability, the private cloud can be a good option.
Scalability: Organizations that host their private cloud through a third-party off-site vendor can take advantage of the scalability of the public cloud while mitigating security concerns. For organizations hosting the private cloud in an on-premises data center, scalability can be more difficult and significantly increase TCO.
Hybrid Cloud – any mix of on-premises, public, and private cloud
Cost: The hybrid cloud offers the greatest control over organizational TCO. Organizations often choose this model to take a varied approach, leveraging private or public cloud and on-premises infrastructure for workloads with different requirements. Organizations can also incorporate on-premises IT infrastructure into a hybrid strategy. With workloads spread out between the public and private cloud, tracking spending is often the biggest drawback of a hybrid model. Tools like CloudCheckr can make a significant difference in an organization’s ability to manage cloud spending.
IT Resources: The complexity of managing each deployment increases the responsibility for in-house IT personnel. Larger IT teams can often take on this challenge.
Security and Compliance: The hybrid model allows organizations to place their most sensitive workloads in the private cloud. This allows organizations to get all of the superior security benefits of the private cloud while balancing costs.
Reliability: The hybrid cloud model spreads services across multiple data centers. This can increase reliability, but having resources actively sync to different regions is the most effective strategy for reliability.
Scalability: Workloads that require high scalability can be placed in the public cloud without exposing other sensitive workloads to the security risks of the public model.
Each model comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and developing a cloud strategy is no simple task. As organizations explore the cloud, it’s important to have a full understanding of what factors matter most and how they will be affected by each cloud model.
While we covered five key factors here, there are so many more that can push or pull an organization in one direction or another. If you’d like a more in-depth view of your environment, our team is always available to conduct a migration assessment. We’ll review your environment and provide a full breakdown of recommendations from our team of solution architects. Click here to learn more and connect with our team.