If your head is in the clouds, you might get blown away by all of that data! Cloud computing is here to stay, and your business operations, proprietary information, data processing, and storage are all waiting for you in the cloud. Despite technical concerns about security, reliability, and performance, users are flocking to cloud applications. Without underestimating these important risks, the competitive business advantages are pushing more and more users to the cloud. At this point, the question is not whether to incorporate the cloud in your operations, but rather, whether you should opt for public, private, or hybrid cloud solutions. Your company must weigh the relative security risks and liability of the public cloud with the necessary expenditures and manpower required to maintain a private cloud option.
The research firm Forrester is predicting that by 2020, the public cloud market in the United States will reach $160 billion. The general business strategy for public cloud providers is to offer a free or very low cost pricing model, and then increase these rates as the system scales up in size. This is a popular solution because the flexibility offered by public cloud services might be the better option for small and midsize enterprises who are looking to scale as business increases.
However, public cloud architecture offers less security control, making them more vulnerable to targeted internet traffic misdirection, which can cause an increase in latency. Man-In-the-Middle attacks, for example, gained publicity over the last several months, when someone diverted internet traffic from 150 cities around the world through networks in Belarus and Iceland, resulting in piles of compromised data, latency, and liability issues.
A private cloud option offers in-house security protection, and it’s hosted in a company-owned datacenter or rented colocation facility. Because it’s company owned and customized, private clouds have a much higher degree of malleability; a number of options on the market today allow for deep configuration that public clouds simply can’t offer.
With that being said, private clouds require a much larger infrastructure investment, so it’s only advantageous for larger companies or those that require a more robust network. Hardware, software, and hosting are part of the financial equation, and having a strong, reliable network with redundancy is incredibly important. This means that a private cloud solution will also include finding IT professionals that are specialized – network engineering, software development, and system admin skills are key – making this a less manageable option for smaller companies.
It doesn’t have to come down to choosing one or the other – businesses can use a hybrid model to balance the vulnerabilities of the public cloud with the security of a private cloud. The hybrid method allows IT to take mission-critical assets and host them in a private cloud, while other services operate in the public cloud.
The hybrid option opens up a critical gap in security that needs to be addressed by authentication, and there are a number of federated service options available that can pass credentials in between services. The main factor to consider is the type of encryption that is being used on a federated service; Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a familiar standard, although there are various options available.
Choosing the Right Cloud Option for Your Business
For the modern IT organization, cloud computing is no longer just an option – it’s practically a given. The cloud enables more flexibility, mobility, and IT infrastructure cost effectiveness than ever before. The bottom-line decision is finding the right option for your business in order to leverage IT assets for optimum performance, scalability, and user experience, as well as minimizing risk and liability. You may have made your decision, or it’s looming over your head, but offering private, public, or hybrid cloud services will keep your users happy in the long run.
If you’re not sure which cloud computing setup would best suit your unique situation, contact us at Mosaic NetworX today for a consultation about cloud computing for your business’s needs.