There are many ways to utilize a cloud, and it’s difficult to determine what type is right for you. Your backup and disaster recovery or business continuity plan can utilize the cloud in strategic ways for your company’s maximum benefit. InformationWeek talks about the benefits of private, public, and hybrid clouds. Let’s take a look.
Virtualization can maximize performance and lower equipment costs by eliminating idling servers, and save you a lot of money on software, power, and administrative costs. In our vast world of computing, you have the option to virtualize machines locally with your own server as part of a private cloud or through companies like Amazon that offer infrastructure services in an offsite public cloud.
Using a private cloud, you can virtualize several servers on one physical host and minimize hardware costs, as well as costs associated with maintenance, power, and administration. With a private cloud, you have full control over company data because it will be somewhere offsite that you control, or even onsite, and not in the hands of a third party. Private clouds are also faster because the cloud is deployed inside the firewall of a company’s intranet and doesn’t rely on internet transfer speeds, though traffic will still affect speed. Storage space is also usually larger than a public offering to begin with, and additional disks can easily provide more space at low prices.
Although you eliminate some hardware with a private cloud, the remaining servers still need maintenance and administrators, not to mention the initial equipment cost. A public cloud service will take care of all these things for you, on a scalable, on-demand basis. You can eliminate IT staff, and equipment costs altogether by virtualizing machines from a third party cloud, but what do you lose in doing so?
It might sound like a good option to use cloud virtualization, which can allow remote access to applications, software and so forth, but what are the risks? There’s always the risk of total outage if the cloud goes down. The most notable outage this year was the Amazon.com cloud outage in July that left Netflix and Pinterest users without access. Most cloud services protect against these types of outages by mirroring data in multiple data centers, and ensuring server and power redundancy. How would your business be affected if the cloud it ran from failed? Your business can suffer if it’s down for a day or even a few hours.
Public cloud services eliminate the time it takes to configure a private cloud, and public clouds have the advantage of remote access to get your business back on track if something goes wrong with your hardware goes wrong. Since everything is virtualized, initial setup is fast, and if something goes wrong you can recover in a few minutes. So what’s the drawback?
One problem is that public clouds are slower. You are limited to the data transfer rate of the ISP. Transferring large amounts of data could take longer, and complex applications might not function at full speed depending on ISP transfer rates. Plus, you will always need reliable internet access. If disaster strikes you could need to get up and running without the internet to help you.
Security is another common concern. Hackers can and have gotten into various clouds. Any time you put something of yours into someone else’s hands, you’re limiting your control. Although large cloud providers have stringent security protocols, hackers can still get in. Private clouds are still susceptible to threats, but you have full security control and make your own protocol which can make it much more difficult for a hacker to breach.