As businesses review the types of cloud offerings available, there are common questions that arise about the similarities and differences between the public and private clouds. In this two-part blog series, we will provide common questions and answers to these questions.

Q: What exactly is the public cloud vs the private cloud?

A: The public cloud supplies cloud resources and services to outside users. The public cloud provider owns and maintains the cloud service and the resources involved. Public cloud users share the same resources because their data is stored on the same servers. This is known as a multi-tenant environment.

Private cloud services, on the other hand, are cloud services offered to only select users instead of the general public, and users can access it in a self-service manner. Private clouds can be accessed either over the internet through a third-party hosting provider or via an internal network with servers that reside in the organization's own data center.

Q: What is one benefit both public and private clouds share?

A: Self-service is a common characteristic in both public and private clouds. Organizations that use cloud services typically deploy their public or private cloud system in a self-service model.

Self-service in both public and private clouds enables users to create and manage their cloud environment and resources without the direct intervention of IT staff. However, the private cloud uses more resources, which means it needs more infrastructure management.

Public cloud providers can supply an organization with self-service using a cloud portal. The portal gives the organization a web interface that provides direct access for managing system resources. Similar to public clouds, private clouds are delivered in self-service environments, but are secured and managed through a private network.

Q: Is the public cloud more secure than a private cloud?

A: No. One benefit of a private cloud is a higher level of security. Because an enterprise has complete control over the private cloud infrastructure and cloud resources exist within the enterprise's direct control, the company can exercise extensive control over the private cloud's security posture.

By comparison, a public cloud implements security tools and services, but those services might not be adequate for all the use cases -- and the user's data and other resources can't be further secured or controlled by the user.

A private cloud can deploy security tools with third-party hosting organizations or deploy comprehensive security mechanisms, such as firewalls. Because the enterprise that owns the private cloud manages the security, that organization's IT department can use whatever internal tools and services they are familiar with to protect the data. There is much more control over the choice of security in a private cloud environment.

But note, a company using a private cloud is held responsible for the costs and tools needed to manage security.

Q: Does the cloud have payment options for usage?

A: Yes. One benefit of utilizing the public cloud is the pay-per-use pricing method. This method is beneficial because it's quick and easy to scale and wastes few resources. When utilizing a public cloud, an organization doesn't need to buy, own or maintain data centers or servers to store their data. Public clouds waste fewer resources because customers only pay for the resources they use. This enables an organization to account for their cloud usage as a varying operational cost rather than a fixed cost.

Although pay per use is one of the major appeals of the public cloud, there are also other payment options, such as reserved instances. Reserved instances for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) are reservations for predictable workloads in 1 - 3 year periods. Reserved instances provide a discounted hourly rate in capacity reservations for EC2 instances. Reserved instances also enable a customer to save money by making an upfront purchase for a long-term commitment.

Payments for cloud resources, such as archival storage, are available by the tier with Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). Options include 50 TB, 45 TB and over 500 TB per month.

Q: What are examples of the public cloud?

A: The public cloud is what many people first think of when hearing the term cloud. This includes cloud data storage services, such as Apple's iCloud. Both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure are cloud services for software development.

AWS is a SaaS (Software as a Service) offering provided by Amazon. AWS has many services organizations can utilize. These services include computing capacities via EC2, storage using Amazon S3 and data management using Amazon Rational Database Service.

Microsoft Azure is Microsoft's PaaS (Platform as a Service) and cloud computing platform that provides services such as computing, analytics, storage and networking. Similar to AWS, Azure data centers are located around the world to ensure stability.

Google Cloud Platform is a suite of cloud services that provides data storage, data analytics and machine learning. Its services include App Engine, BigQuery and Bigtable. These services run on the same infrastructure that Google uses for its end-user products.

For more information about the pro’s and con’s of the different types of cloud offerings - reference this blog and infographic produced by Ranconteur

To best review your business needs and evaluate the data that you need to keep secure, consult with an agnostic technology agent or consultant to gain a deeper overview of the wide range of solutions and how each one fits in with what you're trying to accomplish. In addition to assisting you with procurement, they can also handle ongoing care.

About Comtel

Comtel Communications, a telecom/technology consulting agency based in Richmond, Virginia since 1991, provides best-in-class solutions and unbiased counsel to a diverse group of small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses, totaling more than $18.2M in annual billings. Leveraging unique access to 350+ national and international providers, Comtel benefits its clients through competitive quotes from multiple sources, to ensure their business goals are met with current and dynamic telecom and technology services. Acting as a partner, long after contracts are signed and services are deployed, Comtel offers superb back-office support to manage upgrades, track orders, and provide training to clients.

Author: Pete Kraehmer

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