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Cloud Infrastructure Explained: Public, Private & Hybrid

September 20, 2023 - Cloud Computing, Business IT

Cloud Infrastructure Explained: Public, Private & Hybrid
Josh Scowcroft

Posted by Josh Scowcroft

Cloud infrastructure has become synonymous with innovation, scalability, and efficiency. For many IT decision-makers and CTOs, developing a firm understanding of the intricacies of different cloud computing deployment models is mission-critical.

At the heart of discussions around cloud infrastructure and related services are the three primary deployment models: public, private, and hybrid. Let’s unpack these models and uncover their potential for your business. 

Understanding Cloud Infrastructure

Cloud infrastructure refers to the hardware and software components that support the computing requirements of a cloud-based system. These cloud-based models help connect businesses in efficient and scalable ways.

The software and hardware infrastructure components might include the following:

  • Servers
  • Storage 
  • Networking infrastructure 
  • Virtualization software 

The choices organizations make about which cloud computing deployment model to use, hinges on the kind of infrastructure they need. These decisions touch on aspects such as cost, scalability, control, and security.

Moreover, the decision to move forward with one model over another brings more internal groups to the table than decision-makers might think. By some research, an average of 3.7 groups own cloud selection decisions within an organization. This highlights the gravity of this decision and why it's imperative that businesses carefully weigh their options.

Businesses of all sizes and industries, from finance to education, leverage the power of the cloud to tackle daily business. Even so, large enterprises tend to leverage cloud infrastructure more heavily, with research showing that roughly 60% of their computing environment will be in the cloud by 2025.

Let’s explore the three main cloud deployment models, review their advantages, and learn why more and more businesses are moving to the cloud.

1. Public Cloud

Public clouds, as the name suggests, are owned and operated by third-party cloud service providers. They deliver computing resources such as servers, storage, and even advanced solutions like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) over the Internet. Some notable public cloud providers include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Services.

When it comes to advantages, public clouds offer quite a few:

  • Lower Costs - Companies don’t need to invest heavily in hardware or data centers. Instead, they can pay for exactly what they need in terms of resources.
  • Scalability and Flexibility - Public clouds can adapt quickly to demand surges, effectively scaling resources down or up relative to real-time requirements.
  • Infrastructure Maintenance - Providers handle server upkeep, cooling, and power, but not software updates. This means customers or their Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are responsible for keeping the operating system and software current.
  • High-Reliability - With their vast infrastructure, public clouds can offer redundancy and reliability. This ensures data accessibility even in the event of disruptions.

2. Private Cloud

Private clouds refer to a dedicated infrastructure exclusive to one organization, functioning as a dedicated private IaaS. Whether the company owns the infrastructure, making it a dedicated data center for their core infrastructure, or if it's owned by another entity exclusively for that company, the essence remains the same. It's important to distinguish that on-premise solutions, like servers housed at a specific company site, are not part of the cloud spectrum but rather distinct in-house solutions.

While this model has some maintenance and security drawbacks (if the organization decides to build their own private cloud), it does offer several benefits:

  • Customization - Businesses can tailor private clouds to the specific needs of their business and IT department.
  • Enhanced Security - Since private clouds don’t share resources with outsiders, companies can ensure stricter security measures.
  • High-Level Control - Organizations have greater control over their cloud environment, allowing them to adjust resources without having to worry about external users.
  • Dedicated Resources - With dedicated infrastructure, businesses often enjoy better performance and operational stability.

3. Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud combines on-premise infrastructure, or private cloud, with public cloud solutions. This model allows data and applications to move between the two, offering greater flexibility and optimization of existing infrastructure. It’s particularly beneficial for organizations with varying compliance, security, and data handling requirements. This approach is gaining in popularity, with 48% of organizations saying they operate in “mostly hybrid” environments.

Let’s explore some advantages of a hybrid cloud model:

  • Versatility - Organizations can keep sensitive data protected on a private cloud while running high-demand, less-sensitive operations in the public cloud.
  • Cost-Efficient Scalability - While businesses can secure private assets, they can also scale up in the public cloud without massive investment during demand peaks.
  • Business Continuity - Hybrid cloud environments offer robust disaster recovery solutions, ensuring data integrity and availability. 
  • Innovation and Speed - When organizations leverage hybrid cloud deployment, they can rapidly test, innovate, and introduce new products or features efficiently.

Finding the Right Cloud Computing Deployment Models

Discovering which type of cloud infrastructure is right for your organization depends on your specific needs, regulatory requirements, IT strategy, and budget constraints. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation but rather a careful balance of benefits and tradeoffs.

From the expansive reach of public clouds and the security of private clouds to the flexibility of hybrid models, each deployment type provides unique advantages. Embracing the right cloud model can help your team progress toward enhanced efficiency, innovation, and growth.

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Josh Scowcroft

about the author

Josh Scowcroft

Josh Scowcroft is SymQuest's IT Director and passionate advocate of IT security awareness. Scowcroft brings years of experience bridging the gap between Information Technology and Business.

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