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Private Vs. Public - It’s About The Services

So you’ve chosen to implement a private cloud, and you based that decision on sound rationalizations backed by thorough research--reasons like cost, service portability, legacy infrastructure investment, security and compliance. Heck, maybe you just made the decision based on an overreaction to recent cloud outage news from major providers. Either way, private cloud it is, and your decision on cloud type is done, right? Wrong. There’s a lot more to think about, and if you choose private cloud with an all-or-nothing strategy, you’re likely missing out.

Just because the bulk of your business applications and services are slated to migrate from legacy architectures to fluffy cloud architectures within the four walls of your corporate-owned data centers doesn’t mean they all should. Many services and applications you run may still gain flexibility, scalability or cost savings by moving to the public cloud. Additionally, your business/mission as a whole may gain agility and competitive advantage by maintaining a partial foothold in the cloud. This second part is key because cloud isn’t just about cost savings. In fact, in some cases it may involve extra costs. Cloud is about returning IT to its rightful place as a business enabler rather than the current spot of "cost center."

There are many options when incorporating private and public cloud strategies into a cohesive service delivery model. One commonly discussed model is the hybrid cloud. Hybrid clouds are a mix of two or more of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cloud types, usually discussed as public and private hybrids. Examples of hybrid clouds may be:

  • Public cloud-based disaster recovery systems backing up private cloud services
  • Hosted infrastructure as a service (IaaS) used as a business continuance platform
  • "Cloud bursting" unpredictable capacity to a public cloud system ( For more thoughts on this, see
    my post: The Reality of Cloud Bursting.)

    The other option (although not mutually exclusive) is to assess individual applications or services to determine the best location--private or public. Many applications lend themselves well to public cloud models. Email is a perfect example because:

  • It’s not latency sensitive.
  • It experiences large variances in compute requirements throughout the day/week/month/year.
  • The content will spend the majority of its time on non-internal systems anyway.
  • It can be difficult and expensive to manage correctly internally and may be handled better with scale.
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