Public cloud computing, or the computing, data storage and services companies purchase from third party vendors, is a hot topic in Information Technology. However, even as the concept promises responsiveness and lower costs, it raises problems for corporations. In a public cloud environment, companies often experience lack of control over the services, limited view into operational metrics of the cloud, and increased difficulty managing security.
That is why private clouds top the priority list of IT organizations this year — and why those with a computer science degree should focus on how to implement the necessary technologies.
Public vs. Private
A private cloud is really the internal deployment of cloud services. An organization uses a private cloud available only to it and not shared with others. This flexible approach to delivering IT services bypasses some of the limitations of public clouds. Because the systems are dedicated, the organization has complete control over the resources and how to employ them. An IT department can build a secure private cloud using commodity hardware, versus paying a premium for specialized systems.
The advantages of using private cloud services help explain increased corporate interest in them. InformationWeek surveyed 504 IT professionals, finding that nearly 60 percent said they were currently using private clouds or planning on implementing one.
However, there are drawbacks to using a private cloud. A public cloud can, in theory, be cheaper because a large number of customers effectively split the capital expenses and operational costs. In a public cloud environment, companies don’t need to devote attention and resources to making the systems work. A proven cloud vendor already knows how to make these systems work, so the learning curve for a customer is shorter. Additionally, a corporation might find it more difficult to provide access to the cloud outside of its own networks.
Ultimately, the private cloud must still deliver the characteristics and services of a cloud. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, that includes on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity and provisioning, and measured service.
There are several differences in the way vendors provide services. Some segment part of their public clouds, even running custom virtual machines that completely meet the customer’s needs. Others provide hardware or software to run within a company’s firewall, all using different strategies.
Forays into private clouds are usually limited, and tied to particular areas, such as application development and testing, where the risk of problems is low. Furthermore, any private cloud initiative should have a potential migration strategy to a public cloud in case the cost differential between the two is too large to ignore.
People who have already attained their information technology degrees still need to understand how the various cloud approaches differ and the different implementation and operational strategies they demand.