Can you define the “Cloud?” We have…

Almost everywhere you turn in business or on the web, the discussion is about the cloud.  However, can you define what the “cloud” actually is?


The word itself brings up the idea of some huge puffy location that is filled with all the data from all the people using the “cloud.”  In fact, even the image when we diagram the cloud looks… well, like a cloud.   In fact, the cloud is a lot more concrete and a lot more practical.  It is merely a business model where data is centralized and accessible by multiple devices (desktop PC, laptop, phones, etc.) over any internet connection.


Seems simple enough… until you start looking closer.  There are actually three types of cloud offering: Public, Private, and Hybrid.


Public clouds is a model where multiple businesses share a site offered by a third party.  Two examples of this would eBay and Amazon.  In the eBay site, many different users or businesses can upload items for sale.  In this Public Cloud model, each user can upload their item into the same application platform and they are only charged for the services they use.  Although the same software is used by everyone, each transaction is individualized to the user and is not accessible by any other user.  In the Amazon site, the same is applicable, however, business can also rent from Amazon server space to host applications or store data.


Private clouds are models where an infrastructure (such as your company) is online.  Private clouds are almost exclusively used by enterprises.  They are normal custom built to fit the business that is deploying it and hosted on company servers.  The Private Cloud is the most secure and is employed by banking, insurance, government, and other high-security sectors.


Hybrid clouds are exactly what they sounds like… a combination between Public and Private.  The Hybrid model uses a common management systems that allow some functions to remain in legacy systems and integrate with other functions residing in the cloud as hosted services.  Sega used this Hybrid model over the Christmas sales holiday to overcome the uptick in testing, sales, and delivery of its product.  Combining co-located datacenters with Private and Public cloud allowed Sega to improve its IT efficiency, scalability, and testing time.  Another example of the Hybrid model comes from Barracuda offering online backups.  In this relationship, a business could have a completely Private cloud and uses Barracuda’s cloud backup offering to create daily/monthly/yearly backups for long term storage or disaster recovery.


Finally… let’s discuss cost.  One of the reasons you are hearing about the cloud so much these days is the ability of the cloud to offset costs and become a force multiplier for your workforce.  Mid-sized business today are feeling the crunch of having an overworked staff which is stretched too thin over too much area.  These cloud models may resolve mid-size business issues coming from overloaded budgets, insufficient staffing, and inefficient workload management.  The Private Cloud has the highest cost associated with it.  This is due to the normal implementation of having an onsite server(s), high security, and high tech onsite team to ensure the infrastructure is properly managed.  Public Cloud is usually the least expensive because costs of server maintenance, management, and upgrades is carried by a third party and software is usually SaaS.


Uncommon Solutions hopes that this clears up some of the details surrounding the cloud.  Stay on the lookout for next month’s newsletter where we talk about the major obstacles to cloud computing… and how to overcome them.