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Different Clouds for Different Crowds

8 Oct 2014 by Kevin Simms

Do you remember being a young child, with crayon in hand, drawing squiggly clouds that all looked the same? Even though you likely saw clouds of all types, in your mind that simplified image is how you pictured them. Similarly, when it comes to cloud computing, for some reason many people still seem to think there is a single type of cloud.  In reality, there are several cloud deployment models currently exist to accommodate different use cases and organizational requirements.

This article is not going to dig too deeply into what cloud technology is (but in a nutshell it is computing resources delivered as service over Internet Protocol or IP). Nor is it going to explore the ever-expanding types of cloud services ranging from applications and storage to development platforms and IT infrastructure. It seems like everyday there is a new WaaS (Whatever as a Service) popping up to change the business world. Instead, we’ll focus on the different cloud models that businesses have to choose from regardless of the “W” in their WaaS.

When it comes to cloud applications, end users are independent from the computing resources they consume. But, regardless of where these end users actually are, the computing resources have to reside somewhere and be owned and managed by someone. The where and who are the basic differentiators between the cloud models known as Public, Private, Hybrid and Community.

Public Cloud – When people think of the cloud, this is usually what they have in mind. With public clouds, technology is owned and operated (hosted) by third-party service providers, typically using multitenant (shared or pooled) resources, and accessed on-demand as needed. Services are usually procured on a comparatively low cost, pay-per-use or OPEX (operational expense) basis. Salesforce or Office 365 are good examples of public cloud applications.

Private Cloud – In this case, technology and infrastructure is purchased, built and managed for a single organization. This can be done in-house (on premises) by the organization’s IT staff, off-site by a third party service provider, or some combination of the two. While this model may not have the same OPEX appeal of public cloud, it offers the cloud’s hallmark scalability, agility, ubiquitous access and economies of scale to organizations that prefer to control their technology or have strong security and privacy requirements.

Hybrid Cloud – As the name implies, hybrid clouds combine private and public computing resources to allow organizations to keep some internal applications within organizational boundaries while still benefitting from public cloud for others. For example, an enterprise might choose to deploy a private cloud for sensitive operational data while taking advantage of the public cloud for backup and storage or to bridge gaps in legacy or proprietary technologies.

Community Cloud – Picture this model as a public cloud for a very specific and finite public. You still benefit from the same shared-resource concept, but restricted to a specific “community” of organizations, like a hospital network or a technology park for example. Besides pooled computing resources, community members can benefit from shared IT staff resources as well, amplifying the benefits even further.

These four basic cloud deployment models cover most of the bases when it comes to varying business needs. Of course you may find different variations of the themes, and as cloud continues to evolve others will likely spring up. However, if you put asides the labels and keep the basic concepts in mind, you can start to realize that regardless of your organization’s unique set of “W”s you have more than one path to realize your vision when it comes to service delivery.