In the puzzling world of cloud it’s sometimes hard to determine which solution or mix of solutions is best for you and your business, given the overwhelming amount of information available online. The chances are that you’ve explored both public and private cloud options and maybe even discovered the hybrid cloud, a blend of the two cloud environments.

The solution you settle on depends on which features you find most important and how much you’re willing to invest. The cost-effective public cloud is easy to manage and offers increased scalability, a private cloud provides greater control and heightened security in an age where data breaches seem to be a weekly occurrence. While hybrid cloud brings the best of both worlds, merging public and private cloud for lower total cost of ownership (TCO), with enhanced security, scalability and management features.

What’s best, Public, Private or Hybrid?

The most important questions to ask are:

  1. Do you need full control over your data processing flow and privacy?
  2. Do you have a need for specific regulatory or compliancy?
  3. Do you employ dedicated network engineers?
  4. Do you have the resources to invest in server infrastructure and datacentre management?

If you answered yes to all of four questions, then a fully private cloud solution is your best bet. Especially for mid-size or large companies and enterprises with the resources to invest in server infrastructure and datacentre management, as well as dedicated IT personnel to manage it all. There are initial costs during set up, but it works well for businesses with highly sensitive information, or executives who wish to retain full control over an organisation’s data.

Alternatively, if you answered no, a fully public cloud offers you an affordable solution that scales up or down as needed, leaving room for growth for your small or mid-sized company. With no server or infrastructure investment, it cuts initial deployment costs, as well as those associated with software licensing fees and dedicated IT personnel. This can always be a starting platform and then as your business grows you can look to upgrade or integrate a different solution.

Or, are you somewhere in between? Then a hybrid cloud is the best option. It can provide a low-cost transition strategy for more cloud-based operations at a later stage, or act as a long-term solution that guarantees sensitive data stays on your premises, while separately creating a resilient, scalable public solution. It also allows you to benefit from a lower TCO and quicker results, without compromising sensitive data availability or compliance needs.

Designing Your Hybrid Cloud

If you choose hybrid cloud, it opens up another more difficult question:

  • Which applications should be hosted publicly vs. privately?

Most applications can be evaluated based on the same four questions you used to evaluate which cloud solution suits your needs. But you will also want to consider your availability needs.

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Many public cloud providers offer a service-level agreement (SLA) that will guarantee certain levels of uptime. Private, self-managed cloud may not be able to do the same. If downtime for a particular application would be problematic, a public cloud option may be the better fit. This does leave you open to certain risks if your provider’s services go down however. You will be completely reliant on them to fix the problem, while a private cloud’s downtime will be your internal responsibility. Be sure to consider whether you have the resources to address downtime issues if you opt for the private option for crucial applications.

Also examine each application you’d like to host in the cloud and consider the needs for each. If you need a lot of control over the data the application contains, particularly for regulatory or compliance reasons, a private cloud may work well. If you think a particular application is going to need to grow (or shrink) in the coming weeks, months or years, the scalability of the public cloud would be a great fit.

Finally, be sure you understand your organisation’s security profile and each application’s security needs. If you may be vulnerable to attacks, whether on your own merits or based on your access to partners and customers, be sure to understand how the data you will be storing in the cloud will be secured.

Are you Ready for the Cloud?

If your network isn’t able to handle the increased bandwidth that moving to the cloud will require, then you will create unnecessary frustration with users. Before moving any applications to the cloud, public or private, think about total users, remote workers and plans for future growth, and understand how that will impact your network’s ability to integrate and interact with the cloud.

Hybrid cloud will make it easy to test the waters without fully migrating over, which makes it just as important to find a cloud vendor that allows you to move freely between private, public and hybrid deployment models rather than having to commit to one model long-term. It’s essential to pick a vendor that will help you tailor your solution to your business’ specific requirements today, and be sure it’s flexible enough to grow or change with your organisation to keep you covered in the future.