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What Is Public Cloud and Is It Right for Your Business?

Cloud platforms are a necessity for any business trying to make a mark in the digital world.

The ever-increasing demand for cloud platforms stems from the need of organizations to be updated with the latest data, insights and software at all times to stay relevant in the competition.

While cloud platforms offer innumerable advantages and make our lives easier, they are also increasingly complex in the adoption process of a company trying to figure out its cloud strategy. The sheer number of cloud service types can be quite a fix.

In this article, we’ll focus on public cloud, the simplest and most convenient cloud platform available, and learn more about the advantages it has to offer and the challenges that come with it.

What is the public cloud?

Public cloud computing is the cloud migration and storage services provided by third-party cloud vendors over the internet. It gives organizations the ability to choose their resources on-demand and provides them with a scalable platform and flexible payment plans.

How is public cloud different from private cloud?

A private cloud platform is a cloud service provided and managed internally by an organization. Private cloud solutions are highly secure and offer optimized performance benefits since they are hosted on dedicated servers and have robust firewall access protocols.

A public cloud platform, on the other hand, is a cloud service provided by external vendors where common computing and storage resources are shared among the customers with appropriate security protocols, and the resources are managed by the vendor for a fee.

On an enterprise level, both private and public cloud platforms are viable for use in various applications but sticking to either one of them may cause a hindrance to an optimal cloud experience. Organizations are adopting hybrid cloud solutions and multicloud solutions, which is a merger between private and public platforms, depending on the security and infrastructure requirements. 

Hybrid cloud strategy uses public cloud infrastructure as a service platform and private cloud data centers for a more secure cloud experience. Multicloud strategy, on the other hand, employs a variety of cloud platforms for different applications in a single network infrastructure.

Public cloud infrastructure

Public cloud vendors provide shared computing resources to multiple users and give them the liberty to decide the resources as they deem fit for their business. It is called a multi-tenant architecture since multiple tenants (organizations) use the same resources provided by the vendor. Each user is given secure storage for their data and the same servers will be used to host multiple applications belonging to different users.

Public cloud architecture can be categorized according to the three most common service models, explained as follows:

1. Infrastructure as a Service

Public cloud vendors provide infrastructures such as servers, storage and networking hardware to users as per their demands. IaaS customers also have access to various other services and functionalities from the vendors such as maintenance, load balancing and process monitoring.

Best known examples of IaaS service providers include Amazon Web Services(AWS), Google Cloud Platform(GCP), Oracle Cloud, IBM, Digital Ocean and Microsoft Azure.

2. Platform as a Service

PaaS is a cloud service where the third-party vendor provides the hardware and software components to users to build application supporting platforms that they need to run on the cloud. PaaS users don’t need to replace their entire IT infrastructure, rather just use the vendor’s hosted infrastructure services over a web browser.

The best known examples of vendors providing PaaS services include AWS Elastic Beanstalk and Google App Engine.

3. Software as a Service

SaaS is a software on-demand cloud model, where the cloud service providers give the users access to a fully developed application created specifically for distribution. The software updates are rolled out for all users uniformly and organizations can use their own tools with the vendor provided application programming interfaces (APIs).

Best known examples of SaaS providers include Netsuite, Salesforce, and Concur.

Advantages of public cloud

Public cloud platforms have been adopted by a huge number of organizations, owing to the lesser hassle and optimization benefits they come with once the strategy has been put in place. Let’s take a detailed look at the multiple advantages public cloud offers and gain a better understanding of its popularity in the market.

1. Cost effectiveness

Public cloud model uses a shared resources model which allows cloud vendors to provide their services at a lesser price. Lack of on-premises IT infrastructure and virtualization of existing operating systems also enables users to reduce their hardware and networking assets pricing, allowing them to save better in the long run. Cloud services have become affordable for businesses small and big since they eliminate the need for operational and maintenance costs.

2. On-demand services

Public cloud services enable users to monitor their network usage, performance capabilities and computing power in realtime and plan the further cloud strategy accordingly. They need not depend on the service provider for these insights on a regular basis. 

3. Scalability

Public cloud platforms offer greater scalability to their users and give them the liberty to use more or fewer resources for every application, as needed. Both infrastructure and traffic scalability – the ability to devote adequate compute power for unexpected increase in business traffic – is achieved quickly owing to the huge number of computing services and resources they have available at hand.

4. Easy access to analytics

Cloud data analytics are a huge advantage that public cloud computing provides. Organizations can gather usage metrics of the cloud resources and present business insights for a better future strategy.

5. Resource pooling

In the public cloud computing model, physical resources like networking hardware and storage units and virtual resources like virtual machines and disk snapshots are available for use by all users in a pay per use system. Hence, if the situation demands, all resources could be pooled to serve a single user with high performance, lesser latency and higher storage needs.

6. Easy maintenance

Organizations employing public cloud services are not responsible for the maintenance of the resources provided by the vendors. Both operational and maintenance costs and trouble are taken care of by the vendor as part of their agreement, leading to a stress free cloud experience for the users. Since public cloud deployments are done through a web facility, disaster recovery incase of an unforeseen calamity is also taken care of by the cloud management provider.

Challenges of public cloud

Since public cloud services are externally sourced, they come with their own share of security implications and control issues. Let us now dive into the cons of public cloud and what companies need to take into consideration while employing this strategy.

1. Less internal control

Availing a public cloud service entails that the organization will have lesser control on the physical hardware standards, automation, access management, IT management, and technical support. Since all of these services are outsourced to the external vendor, you might have to adjust quite a few business processes in order to ensure a smoother transition to the cloud.

2. Data security

Since multiple cloud users are hosted on the same platform by the cloud service provider, data vulnerability remains a raging issue in case of public cloud providers.

While vendors are getting better with their cloud security practices and promises, it does not hide the fact that organizations are trusting an external vendor with their data and processes, and are still susceptible to a cyber attack more than they will be if they are on a private network.

3. Connection issues

Since public cloud platforms are hosted over the web, with no dependency whatsoever on the on-premise infrastructure, a connectivity issue might spell trouble with the entire cloud platform.

One way to stay out of this would be ensuring that you have strong network connectivity at all times, irrespective of the physical conditions.

4. Lack of customization

For organizations having a complex network dependency between applications or an intertwined business model, public clouds may pose a headache because of the rigidity of the multi-tenant architecture.

Businesses cannot customize and optimize the use of resources on demand, they can only make the best of what the service provider has to offer. This one-size-fits-all methodology might be an issue for companies prone to rapid changes in their business and cloud strategy.

5. Compliance issues

When GDPR updates rolled in, every organization who was in business with the EU pushed harder than ever to get the compliance factors checked. In case an organization is using public cloud services and needs to overcome a compliance hurdle for a particular client or partner, vendors might not be fast enough to provide the service and make all their resources compliant with every incoming change.

6. Business downtime

Cloud uptime is a critical area of consideration when it comes to adopting a cloud strategy. In case of any cloud outage at the vendor side, organizations will have to endure an unplanned downtime affecting their business hours. 

Devise a robust cloud strategy for your business

While public cloud may not be the only ideal solution for your business migrating to the cloud, it is certainly a strong contender to be chosen for a number of applications having simpler cloud storage and security needs. 

Migrating to and running your business on the cloud can be made easier by employing multiple cloud environments for different applications as per their individual requirements.

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