Pros and cons of public vs. private vs. hybrid cloud

Organizations are under constant pressure to do more with less. No matter what size the company or how large the budget it’s never been more important to maximize return on investment. Cloud computing offers tremendous opportunity to improve operations and reduce costs but it’s not right for everyone as there are significant security pros and cons to consider. There are a number of factors to consider to determine if you should use public, private, or hybrid cloud services or avoid the cloud entirely.

Many major cloud providers—including Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM SoftLayer, Verizon Terremark, Rackspace and others—have made major strides to keep their platforms competitive. They’re also investing an increasing amount of money into critical areas of security and compliance to meet HIPAA, PCI, RIAA and other regulatory needs for cloud computing environments.

Major cloud platforms can typically satisfy the requirements of many companies and specific migration projects. However, they’re not a “silver bullet” solution for everyone. Depending on your organization’s specific needs and tolerance level for loss of control and visibility into your environment public cloud platforms might not be a fit.

Public Cloud

You should be prepared knowing that securing, managing and controlling data in the cloud can be harder than doing so when it’s living in-house or on dedicated systems. Concessions may need to be made when choosing a public cloud provider.

Public cloud models generally offer limited control, oversight and visibility into infrastructure security. Vendor restrictions can also limit control over data lifecycle, especially with certain compliance and regulatory scenarios.

Private Cloud

Private cloud models, on the other hand, usually come with greater security and control over your organization’s infrastructure. This is especially true in regards to the ability to customize the overall deployment design, whereas with a public cloud provider, it truly is a “one-size fits all” model. Private cloud models also offer more finely tuned security options to meet diverse compliance needs, as well as direct, secure control over data lifecycle, storage and transmission.

Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud model takes a middle-of-the-road approach between public cloud and private cloud. It means taking advantage of public cloud storage and public cloud computing for some applications and data while keeping more sensitive or business critical assets in private cloud, or maintained in a local data center.

Decision makers should ask themselves if they’re comfortable trusting a third-party to host and manage intellectual property and critical assets like email, corporate files, client data and financial information. If you’re more comfortable managing that in-house, a hybrid model might be best.

Regardless of whether you’re is considering a public, private or hybrid cloud model you should review and understand the security and data policies of various cloud providers to make sure that appropriate measures and protections are in place. No matter which cloud alternative you embrace there is an element of inherent trust and you need to ensure that the cloud infrastructure you choose aligns with your business and security needs.

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