We’re all in agreement that cloud technology is highly beneficial for our companies—from storing data to collaborating seamlessly to allowing more flexibility for employees. As this platform vendor says, “In addition to increasing efficiency, improving cash flow, and boosting flexibility, cloud computing increases collaboration, reduces system maintenance, cuts hardware costs, and provides watertight document control. It also frees you to work from anywhere, helps with disaster recovery, and enhances security.” Each team needs a cloud option. But when it comes to choosing the right type of cloud, things get a lot more complicated. Let’s dive into each consideration in that process.
Public Clouds vs. Private Clouds
The basic difference between public clouds and private clouds is that the former uses a public architecture, which is shared among multiple users in multiple organizations for different objectives. Private clouds use proprietary architecture that is tailored to your company’s needs and style. Google’s services offer a well-known example of the public option: Google Drive uses a public cloud, and Google Compute Engine boasts major scalability with its virtual machine. On the other hand, VMware, HPE, and IBM were rated last year as some of the best private cloud vendors on the market.
Advantages of Public Clouds:
A huge upside to using a public cloud is the fact that management and maintenance of the cloud is not your organization’s responsibility. Public clouds are also highly scalable and flexible, and if you’re working with a tight pocketbook, they’re going to be the most budget-friendly option as well.
Disadvantages of Public Clouds:
Reliability and availability of public clouds can be up in the air—and if you don’t have time to waste like most organizations, these two inconveniences can be major if they present themselves. Still, security is the foremost issue with public clouds (we’ve all seen the consequences of vulnerabilities and cyber attacks).
Advantages of Private Clouds:
On the flip side, private clouds hold the trump card on this front, boasting excellent security. Data in private clouds is held under lock and key, and everything is protected behind a firewall. If you’re in an industry that deals with highly sensitive data, private clouds are without a doubt your best option. Additionally, with private clouds, organizations have control over alteration of computing resources, provisioning machines, and tailoring the cloud to handle big computing tasks.
Disadvantages of Private Clouds:
Two things that may deter you from going all in on a private cloud are cost and management. To maintain a private cloud, an organization needs a dedicated team. On top of that, the cloud software itself, cloud management tools, and virtualization add to the bill.
A Middle Ground: Hybrid Clouds
A third option you have is to combine public and private clouds—using one or the other depending on differing workload, privacy, and collaboration demands. Hybrid clouds are becoming a more popular option—as I explain in-depth here—as they allow organizations to use services from both public and private clouds to fit their unique needs.
Hybrid clouds aren’t perfect, however. Transitioning to a hybrid solution is bound to bring a learning curve with it, and moving from the old system to the new may create risk. Additional risk comes into play with data transfer: though the private cloud is intended to protect data, there’s still a public component with a hybrid system, creating the opportunity for data interception.
Now that we’ve established the upsides and downsides to all cloud options, there are several things to take into consideration as you decide among them. Here are a few to get you started.
What Does Your Organization Need?
Examine the resources your enterprise already has: what skills do your employees bring? What kinds of technology are you already implementing? Assessing where you are will help you move into a future that involves cloud technology. Create a roadmap for your business that involves your people, projects, and current IT solutions to puzzle-piece them into your future cloud strategy.
Is Your Team Cloud-Ready?
It’s imperative that everyone at your organization understands how to access and maneuver within your cloud. Is there an understanding throughout your team—especially those in leadership roles—of how cloud technology can benefit your enterprise? In addition to creating a birds-eye roadmap for the move to the cloud, create a strategy for how your team will adapt.
Can Your Budget Handle it?
Bring in your finance department on this one. It may be helpful to sit down together to determine how to compare past and future operating structures on an apples-to-apples basis, creating a way to examine plans that makes sense for you and the team handling the budget. You’ll also want to clarify how you’ll be spending moving forward—oftentimes, fee structures for cloud systems look different. Make sure everyone helping make the decision on which cloud structure your enterprise will move forward with understands how future costs will be managed.
Choosing the cloud structure that fits just right for your enterprise involves a lot of research and tough decision-making. Starting with consideration of what your organization needs will help you decide among public, private, and hybrid solutions. Once each member of your team is prepared to move forward and you’ve determined what your organizational budget can handle, you’re ready to take a giant leap for the betterment of your enterprise.
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Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.