Choosing the best cloud computing option for your business

Posted in Enterprise mobility.

Cloud computing is the latest buzzword in the world of technology. But many people do not know what the different cloud options are and what they offer. Knowledge of the cloud options will empower you to choose the best one for your business’ unique needs. Take a look at three of the four cloud options at your disposal along with the advantages and disadvantages they hold.

Public Cloud

If you have ever heard of Skydrive, Dropbox or Google Drive then you already have a vague idea of what a public cloud is. A service provider makes resources available over the Internet, mostly for free, to the general public. These resources include storage and applications.

The costs (or lack of costs) associated with the public cloud is one of the things that makes it attractive to especially small- to medium-sized businesses. With many businesses looking to save costs wherever they can while still on the way up, the public cloud is effective at providing a service that is essential and at the same time not being expensive to get or maintain.

Despite cost-saving when it comes to using a public cloud solution, it may be a detrimental system once the business grows. The free option is only available (in most cases) up until a certain size of storage and a certain amount of application. If one requires more of any part of the public cloud, the costs start to go up. And growth is inevitable with any business because of more projects and staff members.

There is no maintenance involved which means no costs in terms of staff that need to have the appropriate knowledge of cloud software. The service provider takes care of any problems that may arise and updates can be taken care of by all staff members since it is an easy, straightforward task with no skills needed.

In terms of scalability, which is the ability of software to adapt to the needs of a growing business by providing more resources, the public cloud has some limitations. For example, Google Drive provides you 5GB of storage space (and 10GB for your Gmail inbox) for free. But if you want more (they go up to 16TB) you need to pay for it on a monthly basis. For a growing business this may seem unnecessary when you want to save as much money as you can to survive and be profitable.

The issue of the ease of access that comes with using a public cloud, can either be a hindrance or a drawback depending on your viewpoint. The use of these public clouds is open to anyone with access to a PC and an Internet connection. This allows all of your employees to gain entry to their documents and any documents that have been shared with them by colleagues, which amounts to the equal sharing of knowledge throughout the company. On the other hand, easy access creates issues surrounding security and who may be able to view documents that are of a sensitive nature.

Also, security may be a concern when it comes to the responsibility that is assigned to individual employees rather than to the company. The security of documents in a public cloud relies on each of the participants to be vigilant and therefore the company has less control over storage and applications handled by employees. On the other hand, having each person managing their own account with their own password there is the possibility of one security breach not affecting the entire company but only the one person, thus minimizing the risk and infiltration.

Private Cloud

The private cloud is a software system that is created solely for the use of a certain business or organization and its employees. It is either managed internally by the company itself or by a third-party that hosts the software. With private cloud you can buy software on an as-needed basis and can include messaging services, content distribution

Security is of a much better quality with private cloud than with public cloud. In the case of a public cloud system, the host has access to your company’s information (even though it may not be something that you are aware of or notice) while the private cloud allow determination of the users that will have access, as well as viewing and editing rights

The costs involved with using a private cloud system is obviously more significant than when using public cloud. Aside from costs running into thousands of rands there are other costs to consider. There is a need for extra IT personnel (which have to be paid a salary) as the service provider does not maintain the cloud but rather it comes down to your company’s personnel to rectify any problems, implement any updates and maintain a fully functioning system.

The private cloud also requires more skills to run as not everyone has the capacity to understand or manage private cloud software. Colleagues that are in other, non-IT fields will have no control over the functioning of the cloud and therefore require more time to have it fixed as they have to turn to the IT department for this while downtime affects productivity.

Despite all of the above, there are various benefits that can make you lean towards a private cloud solution. The private cloud allows for greater scalability and has the capacity to handle greater amounts of data and users as this is how it is designed from the beginning. Your company’s needs will determine what features (such as the amount of storage) you can implement in the private cloud. You decide beforehand what you need and then the solution best suited to you is determine whilst the public cloud does not always provide this kind of flexibility.

The quality of the private cloud system might also be seen as superior to that of a public cloud. Public clouds have to cater to a large and diverse group of people with differing needs while a private cloud is molded to suit the unique needs of a company which will affect the service one receives and how your company perceives the service received. Spreading a service over a large area will have an impact on whether people are all satisfied with what they are getting.

Hybrid Cloud

The hybrid cloud’s name says it all. It is the composition of two or more cloud computing types. For example, it may be a combination of both private and public cloud solutions, or adding all of the qualities of private, public and community clouds.

As always there are both benefits and drawbacks to this solution. Having a public cloud as a companion to a private cloud and vice versa allows for a back-up plan in case either one of the systems should fail to meet requirements.

There is a greater consideration regarding cost as private cloud is already expensive on its own but adding public cloud (which no doubt would have to include a large capacity with a fee attached) will increase the cost. But the difference may be slight if the capacity chosen from the public cloud is kept to a free option and it only serves as an option for individual colleagues and their project documents.

The hybrid cloud can also be seen as taking on a greater responsibility as combining to differing services can be confusing to maintain. On the other side of the coin, it does offer the opportunity to suit the unique needs of individuals in the company as well as those of the company itself more closely than one perhaps could with the use of only one type of cloud solution.

It is difficult to fully describe what the advantages or disadvantages of a hybrid cloud may be as it all depends on the combination you choose as well as the services you have required from your service provider and what the particular cloud option brings to the table as each will differ.