18/04/2012

By Jonathan Bowers, Communications Director, UKFast

To put it simply, cloud delivers computing as a service rather than a product. So, rather than having your applications stored and running from the computer at your desk, they are served from the cloud, via the internet, through your browser.

There are three types of cloud: public, private and hybrid. Each of these comes with specific features and business benefits. As the cloud’s infrastructure is fundamentally flexible, the solution can expand or condense to meet the needs of your business.

For example, an e-retailer will experience spikes in traffic to their site following a marketing campaign. The cloud solution can accommodate these spikes to ensure the smooth running of your site even at peak times.

Public cloud is the consumer-level cloud solution. Offered by tech behemoths such as Google and Amazon, it is often provided on a pay-as-you-use basis.

The public cloud shares processing power, switches and security applications such as firewalls between all end users. This means that there is often a substantial cost saving as all of the hardware and capabilities are spread between several users.

This does mean that a public cloud is not an appropriate option for businesses wanting to store sensitive information or run business critical applications with cloud, as it does not offer the necessary level of redundancy or security.

The ideal uses for public cloud solutions are low-load websites, such as a personal site or as an area of extra capacity for testing and development, or proof of concept.

As a shared environment, public cloud is more vulnerable than private cloud. Private cloud provides the same capabilities of its public counterpart, but doesn’t share any of the resources.

Private cloud is a dedicated solution better suited to the needs of a business. As the processing power, firewalls and switches are solely for your use, the solution is significantly more reliable and secure than a public cloud.

Private clouds offer a safer cloud environment to store business critical applications and data, back-ups and disaster recovery and to meet the needs of traffic spikes or seasonal peaks in website traffic.

Businesses often choose for an amalgamation of both public and private cloud solutions, adopting a hybrid cloud solution to meet their needs.

Hybrid cloud solutions meet the business’s demands with both the availability and low cost of the public cloud and the resilience and security of the private cloud solutions. For example, a business may choose to host their email within a public cloud and their business critical data within a private cloud environment.

The key to making cloud computing work for your company is to focus on your business needs and then establish how the cloud — be that public, private or hybrid — can meet these.


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