Choosing your cloud type
Hopefully, after reading part 1 of this series you have a good understanding about what the Cloud is, and the value it can provide for your organization. So, now we want to delve a bit deeper and start learning about the types of Clouds and then work to determine the right fit for your existing processes and policies.
Over the years, organizations have built tried-and-true policies, processes and techniques for delivering top-notch technology delivery. Integrating any type of Cloud into the existing system should be unobtrusive. It shouldn't cause disruption within the organizational structure or infrastructure. It should be able deliver value without causing disturbance. It has be an exact fit. As I talk about the different types of Cloud, keep this in mind. Every environment is 100 percent different, so don't be surprised if you find out that any, or all, Cloud types may not fit within your organization.
As I detail each Cloud type below, take special note of the advantages and disadvantages of each. I've boiled it down to three major areas: cost, licensing, and control.
The Public Cloud is a datacenter, completely owned and operated by a vendor. The datacenter exists completely outside of the organization's network structure and firewall. Depending on the Cloud provider chosen, the service offerings come close to mirroring actual on-premises applications and services. Participation in the Public Cloud provider's services, including storage of your own data, is provided on a monthly or yearly subscription fee. Access to the provider is over the Internet with direct connectivity not available.
Signing a contract with a Public Cloud provider should be done with legal help, as many of the contracts contain verbiage that could result in a loss of rights to data. Not all are this way, but it's prudent to seek help from legal firms familiar with experience in Cloud contracts.
Advantages of a Public Cloud Cost. Instead of having hardware expenditure, your subscription includes rental of server and networking components necessary to accommodate your requirements.
- Licensing. Software is included in the price of thesubscription so you don’t have to worry about software licensing fees or potential software licensing evaluations because the vendor takes care of that for you.
- Control. For those organizations with little or no technology experience, the vendor provides all support and technical expertise.
Disadvantages of a Public Cloud
- Cost. Obviously, if you already have hardware and software purchased, moving to a Public Cloud model will cost more up front as you wait for software contracts to expire and hardware to reach expenditure life.
- Licensing. As stated in the previous point, software licensing contracts need to be reviewed to determine exactly whencost savings for software will be realized.
- Control. It’s important for those organizations with skilled technologists to understand the loss of control by moving applications and services to the Cloud. Instead of being able to rely on local IT to help with issues, IT becomes nothing more than a mediator between the Cloud provider and the user population. Security is also a factor.
The Private Cloud is completely located on-premises, meaning the organization's datacenter is stored, managed, and run onsite within the network. But, instead of using the old methods of providing a server for every single application and service, the datacenter is highly virtualized, orchestrated, optimized, and managed (see Part 1).
Advantages of a Private Cloud
- Costs. This is one area that needs to be seriously considered, and really relates to a disadvantage (see the next section).
- Licensing. This is another area that might minimize value of a virtualized datacenter (see next section).
- Control. Management of applications and services are retained solely by the organization, ensuring a single point of contact for disruptions.
Disadvantages of a Private Cloud.
- Costs. All hardware costs are retained with the organization, meaning servers are still sourced and paid for by the organization.
- Licensing. Software licensing and contracts are maintained and expensed by the organization.
- Control. Your organization will still need to retain highly technical expertise on-premises to ensure proper operation of the technologies.
The Hybrid Cloud is the combination of two or more Clouds. It contains at least one Private Cloud and one Public Cloud with a conduit between them. This allows data to be stored and managed on-premises as well as the ability for users to connect to Public-hosted applications and services. The Hybrid Cloud is a great solution for those who want to maintain local control over critical data, yet move hardware and software licensing costs to a subscription model. A bridge between the local datacenter and the Public Cloud also enables secure, offline storage for data backups in the event of a local disaster.
Advantages of the Hybrid Cloud
- Costs. The actual costs will be determined by how much you decide to retain on-premises versus how much is stored in the Public Cloud. If server hardware costs are an issue, you can push more applications and services to the Public Cloud at any time, and simply "rent" the hardware as part of the subscription.
- Licensing. Similar to the hardware costs, as software contracts expire, you can move them to the Public Cloud provider to help minimize expenditures.
- Control. In addition the control retained by a Private Cloud solution, by choosing a Hybrid Cloud you have even more freedom of choice. By utilizing the bridge between on-premises and Public, you get to choose the specific services and applications that reside in each location.
Disadvantages of the Hybrid Cloud. There's very little disadvantage of using a Hybrid Cloud model. The Hybrid Cloud is also a great way to "taste" the virtues of a Public Cloud solution without losing control. You can use as much or as little as you choose. And, if the Public Cloud doesn't work out, or doesn't fit your technology model, you can pull back and cancel the service.
By now, you should understand what a Cloud is and the types of Clouds available to you. Each option is unique and must fit your organization's processes and policies.
In the next article in this series, we'll go over how to "sell" the Cloud to your organization, whether you choose Public, Private or Hybrid, including providing a business plan to include a backout strategy.
Rod Trent is the IT Community Manager for Windows IT Pro and myITforum.com, both sister brands of American City & County.