We often think of the cloud as just a magical space above us, but it’s very real and (sorry to burst the bubble) doesn’t float in the sky. It’s a term we use in everyday language which refers to servers that exist (usually) far away from our physical locations. But how does it work? Is there more than one cloud in the ‘sky’? What’s a public cloud vs a private cloud? The goal of this article is to help you gain a better understanding of what cloud hosting is, how it works, and what unique benefits each type has to offer.
Who, What, Where, When, Why?
Let’s work through each of these to understand the cloud. The Who is anyone with a smartphone or computer. Any internet connection can allow a user to connect to the cloud and then either retrieve or store data.
All the cloud is a giant database that you can access through a series of networked computers. From the user’s viewpoint they only interact with one screen, but to access the cloud there may be any number of interactions going on behind the scenes. Your phone contacts one server which contacts another, which contacts another, so on and so forth until the final server sends the requested information back up the chain.
These servers are collectively referred to as ‘the cloud’ and can exist anywhere. As mentioned before, they don’t float in the sky but thanks to the seamless interactions from one physical location all the work is invisible to the individual user.
Cloud computing was invented in the 1960s and there are several advantages it brings that have caused such widespread adoption. For one thing, it’s incredibly simple to use. You can just tap to upload a photo to the cloud and then it is saved for future use. This is both simple and efficient since there is no physical storage that the end-user needs to manage. This is a key advantage over older storage methods like USB sticks or floppy disks. It’s also more secure than the physical counterparts since you might easily misplace a USB stick or damage it. With the cloud, if you break your phone and get a new one you can always resync it to the cloud and pick up exactly where you left off.
Public vs Private Cloud
Now that we understand what the cloud is, let’s discuss the different types. There isn’t just one cloud up in the sky, rather many individual clouds that each correlates with their correlates physical server. For this reason, different clouds can be customized to fit individual needs and be either public or private.
A public cloud does not make all of your information available to the public, if it were doubtless very few people would use it. Public means that the cloud is shared between multiple entities, whereas a private cloud is one designed separately for an individual or organization.
Another way to divide up clouds besides private and the public is managed vs unmanaged. A managed cloud is one managed by a hosting service and dedicated to keeping your data secure/confidential. Your security and implementation are taken care of entirely by a third-party hosting system alleviating your level of involvement. As a business grows data management can become increasingly complex, and with that comes security risks against things like Distributed Denial of Service attacks. With a hosted plan rather than having to focus on security yourself, you can dedicate your time towards the other things that make your business great.
Pros and Cons of Going Private
Both public and private plans have advantages, what type of cloud is right for you depends on what your needs are. If you’re looking for a simple and affordable way to access the cloud odds are a public cloud is right for you. It tends to be cheaper and it can be great to have the capability to jump right in and get started without managing any servers.
Private plans on the other hand can require a little more attention if you want to customize them to your needs. This is not a bad thing though; customizability is a bonus for private plans and can help your business run smoother in the long run. With customizability, you can have your cloud run exactly as needed for your business
Additionally, private plans tend to have stronger security. Public plans don’t make your information public to everyone, but they can be more vulnerable to security breaches than private plans. Multitenancy is when multiple users (businesses or individuals) share the same physical server, and while this can make things more affordable for the individual, it also increases your risk of data spillovers or leaks. If your business has grown large enough or deals with data that absolutely needs to stay secure such as personal user data, a private plan may be better for you.
Conclusion – Public Cloud Versus Private Cloud
We’ve summarized what the cloud is, what differs between private and public clouds, and what some of the benefits are. So now the ultimate question is which plan should you choose? And if you couldn’t tell by now the answer is it depends. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for your cloud, but rather you should think about what you’re hoping to get out of the cloud and go from there.
If security is your priority, then a private cloud plan is the best route for you to avoid sharing any hardware/software with others. And if affordability or ease of implementation is most important to you, a public plan might be more ideal. Regardless of which kind of cloud you decide to use, make sure you are embarking with a trusted company. Anything you put on the cloud is your responsibility and you want to make sure that it is taken care of properly and is still around when you want it.