Public or private? What’s the best cloud option for your business? Part 1

July 6, 2017 Srini CR

While cloud computing has become a business necessity for enterprises of all sizes, what remains a point of uncertainty for many is what type of cloud they should opt for: private or public? Or hybrid? This is largely determined by the IT resources the organisation has, the type of data it has to deal with, and, increasingly, the desire to use the cloud as the foundation for a complete organisation-wide digital transformation strategy, spanning all lines of business.

Choosing the right cloud type takes time, but more and more companies are well on their way. According to a recent global study by McAfee, 93% of organisations use cloud services in some form. Interestingly, over the last year there has been a significant shift in cloud architecture, from private-only or public-only to predominantly hybrid, which increased from 19% to 57%. Looking deeper into cloud adoption, there was a significant reduction in private-only cloud, from 51% in 2016 to 24% in 2017. Public-only architecture also saw a notable drop, from 30% to 19%.

Still, the popularity of certain private, public or hybrid cloud models is not always determined by the cloud type itself, but by the challenges that some organisations face in deploying and managing their cloud infrastructure effectively.

High value of data

Often, the type of cloud that makes sense for a business depends on the size of the organisation, given the resources needed to deploy and manage the new IT set-up. For smaller companies and start-ups, it is often a no-brainer to go with a public cloud to begin with, because they have no, or very little, legacy IT to migrate. Most mid-sized companies on the other hand, tend to have a fair amount of legacy IT that they need to move to the cloud, but often limited IT resources. That is why they tend to opt for ready-made public clouds or fully-managed private clouds, so that they don’t have to invest further into their own infrastructure and grow their own IT team. However, challenges may arise when they choose a public cloud, and then work with a systems integrator to customise it to the needs of the business. This multi-vendor approach can add complexity to IT management.

Yet, regardless of the size of the organisation, the key questions for the IT decision maker are: What type of data do I have? And crucially, what is the value of my data? A public cloud is often not the best home for highly valuable, sensitive, business-critical data – even in small businesses. In spite of this, almost 85% of professionals surveyed by McAfee report they “store some or all of their sensitive data in the public cloud.” However there is a growing awareness of a security skills shortage within organisations, 77% of large organisations admitted that they had a lack of cybersecurity skills. Among these, 39% reported that they have slowed cloud adoption/usage due to the lack of skills.

Security of valuable data

Data security is, and will remain, a major factor in an enterprise’s cloud strategy too. It boils down to making a call between what is an acceptable amount of convenience versus an acceptable amount of risk when it comes to access to applications and data. That is why a highly-secure, fully-managed private cloud that gives the CIO maximum control over applications and data, and the ability to mix the private cloud set-up with public and on-premise systems, is often the best option.

Often the decision between public vs. private is not a black and white one. When making the switch, enterprises need to consider the value of the data being moved to the cloud and the state of their legacy IT. Many businesses migrating to the cloud will find that a hybrid approach that mixes both cloud types and on-premise systems is the most pragmatic and effective solution.

Read Srini’s recent post on Petya and WannaCry: a new security environment, and stay tuned for Part 2 of ‘Public or Private? What’s the best cloud option for your business?’.

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