Private cloud computing services have drastically changed the dynamics by which companies run. The explosion of cloud computing has resulted in a series of questions from outside observers and insiders.
The most serious questions about cloud computing have been about its security, privacy and whether a public or private cloud is the way to go. We will discuss important factors to consider when you are a small to medium business owner, and what should drive and inform your decisions when you are deciding between private cloud or public cloud models.
The revolution, which really picked up steam in the 1990s, has empowered SMBs and big corporations to simply do more.There has been a natural progression when it comes to cloud computing, and it has afforded businesses certain competitive advantages that could not be ignored. You will be hard-pressed to find an organization – regardless of their size, industry or operational demands – that run their day-to-day without some element of cloud computing to help ease their workflow and load. The benefits of cloud computing are numerous:
- It allows employees to remotely access work applications through the internet.
- Cloud-enabled platform is scalable and can be easily built on by adding more applications.
- It allows companies to stay up-to-date because software is automatically updated in the cloud and has a pay-as-you-go model built-in that is gratifying to small businesses.
But is the private cloud a viable option for small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs)? The question of whether private cloud computing services are authentically a cloud platform has been contested by public cloud providers who say that it is a virtualized data centre. Other proponents say that moving forward, with privacy and security concerns constantly being at the forefront of news cycles, can anyone seriously discount the cloud as a viable option for businesses?
Looking down from a bird’s view, one can easily see that the cloud provides increased savings through an economies of scale. When the concept and the talk of the cloud was etched into the psyche of business owners, they cloud was not distinguished or partitioned as either private or public. It always was presented on a unified front. But as our understandings of the cloud has evolved, there has been a lively debate about what is a better solution, especially for companies who have certain requirements and demands.
This was skewed in large part by IT service vendors who saw the emergence of cloud computing as a real threat to the way they did business because IT resources would be offloaded and be moved outside their organizations. What happened is that pockets of IT providers decided to create their own versions of the cloud and ensured that unlike large conglomerate-created cloud epicenters, their cloud infrastructure was more private, secure and incorruptible.
Public cloud companies, such as Amazon, countered this by arguing that if you are going to dynamically provision or pool resources, SMBs can take the same architectural line as larger organizations and integrate their own resources into the public cloud platform without seeing any downsides.
That resources are still being funnelled into the same platform and it can work across multiple departments and divisions within an organization, so why opt for private cloud computing services that is inferior from an infrastructural standpoint? If we are talking in terms of quantity, then the private cloud is simply overshadowed by the Amazon-built data centers that drive business CRMs, emails, applications and so on. If we are speaking from a technological perspective, then the servers and components used in private clouds are up to the grade. What differentiates a private cloud is that it can be offered to one single, internal organization without a drop-off in computing speed, power and accessibility.
One of the greatest advantages that a private cloud has is that it’s perceived to be more secure. But is this the case? With private cloud computing services, your cloud provider is managing the systems, shelling out money for it, and all infrastructure is under their direct control. The private cloud, unlike the public cloud, is something you own. You can actually, physically go to it and see it because you own it and can locally access your servers. When it comes to the public cloud, not only do you not own the servers and all that goes into making everything work for your cloud, the data centers that store your business assets are usually located in a far-off, foreign land.
You will, almost in every case, will never see where your critical business information and data is stored. Another major security benefit is that, as an end-user, when you decide to go to the cloud, you are trusting the physical place that the data is being stored. For example, if the data in the cloud already had the information of your USB key, and you lose that USB key, then you can be rest assured that you did not lose the data. In a public cloud, where there are literally millions of end-users who are accessing those same data centers, you are one login credential and password away from being left exposed. With a cloud, your information is hidden from others and heavily firewalled in a local, digitally inaccessible location.
The benefits of storing your data on a private cloud computing services are numerous for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs). Such as:
- The exact location of your data is known by you. This means that you can always access it.
- The architecture that holds your data is specifically designed to meet your needs and requirements. For example, if you have an industry-specific CRM that is critical to your day-to-day, a private cloud provider can create the computing requirements it needs to run.
- You are well-informed of who is able to access the data center and it is usually manned by security personnel. Most data centers have Pentagon-grade security protocols in place.
- An SMB is absolutely in the know that they own the business information going in and out of the data center. There is no room for misinterpretation. They own the information.
- Those who are looking to steal your data will not know where the physical location of your data is.
When it comes to the public cloud, the disadvantages it provides on a security front are also numerous. Public cloud is extremely visible, and anyone can gain access to a public cloud provider, such as Google and Amazon. The pathways to your information are not clearly defined, it is almost jungle-like, and your data has to travel over the Internet, which is open, to your public cloud. An important misconception is that when people hear of companies like Google or Amazon, they think that they are too big to fail on the cloud front and that they have everything under control. The Amazon outage of 2011, which immobilized cloud-heavy companies, for three days shows that no company has fully freed itself from being affected by downtime. Furthermore, a consideration that is often forgotten is that public cloud companies can alter their terms of service, which can seriously undermine your ability to access your data or deliver them to your customers, partners and stakeholders.
About: Fidelity IT Solutions provides private cloud computing services to Toronto small business and mid-sized companies.