Nicos Vekiarides

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Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud or Community Cloud

Puzzled Over the Choices?

Perhaps planning a cloud strategy has led you to consider public clouds, private clouds, hybrid clouds and/or community clouds – not to mention a few “cloud-washed” derivatives that suspiciously resemble traditional IT. With so many varieties of cloud deployments to choose from, you may be a bit confused about which is right for you.

A recent article in Technology Review, Cloud Computing Defined by Simson L. Garfinkel may help shed some light on the topic. Offering a clear definition of each type of cloud deployment, this article sorts through some of the confusion. As a starting point, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines Cloud Computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

In simpler terms, think of cloud as a highly scalable and elastic IT resource that can be utilized on-demand, typically using a pay-as-you-go model. That said, some private clouds may appear pay-as-you-go only from the perspective of the internal user.  If you are the internal owner, who purchased the cloud infrastructure, the pay-as-you-go model does not apply.

For the most part, cloud deployments fall into four categories:

  • Public cloud: A public cloud is owned by a cloud provider and made available to the general public on a multi-tenant, pay-as-you-go basis
  • Private cloud: A private cloud is owned and deployed by an organization for internal use as a single tenant, and not typically pay-as-you-go unless hosted by a 3rd party for dedicated use
  • Community cloud: A community cloud is cooperatively shared by a select set of tenants, often by organizations that are related by a common industry
  • Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud spans the cloud deployment models listed above, enabling applications and data to easily move from one cloud to the other

Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” model, each type of cloud deployment offers unique advantages.  A small company may find it beneficial to maintain zero on-premise infrastructure and, therefore, host all of its operations in the public cloud. On the other hand, companies already owning local infrastructure and multiple data center locations may prefer a private cloud located within the logical (if not physical) four walls of their organization. Community clouds bridge the “multi-tenant gap” between public and private clouds by providing a cloud deployment shared only by trusted companies, often in a common vertical market (i.e. medical, educational, legal, etc).  Many companies may seek to deploy both private and public clouds for specific portions of their operations, preferring a hybrid cloud deployment. In this case, the public cloud portion may serve as an extension of their primary site or in lieu of a traditional secondary or disaster recovery site.

With the many cloud deployment choices available, which is the right one for your business? Well, one variable to consider is ease of deployment. Public clouds are readily available and allow instant access to compute and storage resources, whereas private clouds have a more complex deployment model that involves on-premise infrastructure. If you are looking for deployment speed, public cloud may be the right choice. If you are looking for absolute control, private cloud may be the better choice.

In the cloud storage world, enterprise storage gateways and hybrid storage arrays, like CloudArray, let you choose from all of the cloud deployment models defined above. Thanks to their flexibility, enterprise storage gateways make utilizing the cloud a very simple matter regardless of cloud deployment model. Whether it’s public, private, community or hybrid cloud storage that you decide upon, you can get started with minimal effort.  You can change deployments and/or providers any time without fear of losing data. While security, performance, availability and interoperability are key features of cloud storage gateways, flexibility relative to cloud deployment choices is a significant benefit.  Make sure you evaluate your enterprise storage gateway options carefully to ensure you are getting the maximum flexibility.

Regardless of which cloud deployment model you choose today, an enterprise storage gateway will protect your investment by providing compatibility with future cloud deployments. Let us know what type of cloud deployment best fits the needs of your organization.

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Nicos Vekiarides is the Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of TwinStrata. He has spent over 20 years in enterprise data storage, both as a business manager and as an entrepreneur and founder in startup companies.

Prior to TwinStrata, he served as VP of Product Strategy and Technology at Incipient, Inc., where he helped deliver the industry's first storage virtualization solution embedded in a switch. Prior to Incipient, he was General Manager of the storage virtualization business at Hewlett-Packard. Vekiarides came to HP with the acquisition of StorageApps where he was the founding VP of Engineering. At StorageApps, he built a team that brought to market the industry's first storage virtualization appliance. Prior to StorageApps, he spent a number of years in the data storage industry working at Sun Microsystems and Encore Computer. At Encore, he architected and delivered Encore Computer's SP data replication products that were a key factor in the acquisition of Encore's storage division by Sun Microsystems.