There is no debating the overwhelming impact cloud computing has had on the IT landscape in recent years. Organizations, ranging from start-ups to large corporations, are finding it impossible to ignore the appeal of cloud migration, but sorting through the many increasingly prevalent and functional cloud solutions can be complicated.

Obviously, every company has unique business needs, and it is crucial to have an IT infrastructure tailored to match those needs. The cloud has provided a variety of new options for IT managers deciding how to structure their environment. Many are drawn to cloud migration – migrating parts, or all, of their environment to the cloud – by the appeal of cost savings, greater scalability, increased accessibility and reliable recovery. Unfortunately, the decision-making process for managers is not as simple as cloud vs. no cloud. Once an organization is sold on pursuing the benefits of a cloud solution, there are countless factors it must consider in order to incorporate the new platform effectively into its infrastructure.

Determining whether to adopt a public cloud or private cloud approach is one of the earliest and most influential decisions to be made when considering cloud migration. I will detail the differences between the two and describe some situations in which each is most effective.

Public Cloud

The distinguishing aspect of a public cloud platform, such as Microsoft Azure, is the sharing of physical hardware that is owned and maintained by a remote third-party provider. By distributing computing resources and costs across multiple tenants, public cloud providers are able to offer a low cost solution, charging tenants based solely on their usage. The pay-per-use model is appealing to smaller companies or anyone desiring to limit their capital expenditure on hardware in exchange for a utility operating cost. Public cloud providers are also extremely flexible. There is no contract requiring ongoing server usage, so companies have the option to shut down, restart or run their servers as needed.

A public cloud also allows organizations who have undertaken a cloud migration to scale with ease. If demand for computing resources increases rapidly, no further investment in expensive servers or storage devices is necessary. Migrating to a public cloud provides the scalability required if user demand fluctuates daily or seasonally and resources are only running at capacity part of the time. It is also common practice to use a public cloud as a testing environment or for new applications for which the demand is uncertain.

Private Cloud

A private cloud offers all of the availability, scalability and efficiency of the public cloud; however, the infrastructure is dedicated only to your business and is typically hosted on-site or in a datacenter. While both public and private clouds are relatively secure, private clouds offer more control and isolation when dealing with data and provide peace of mind in the knowledge as to exactly where key business and client data is being stored. For highly regulated industries such as healthcare and finance, running on a private cloud may be necessary to meet compliance standards.

Aside from enhanced security and compliance, the primary advantages of a private cloud migration are the high performance and availability gains. Innately, a public cloud provider is constantly spreading servers, bandwidth and other resources across tenants, and it can be difficult for them to always guarantee perfectly consistent performance when overall usage varies – a private dedicated cloud avoids this issue. Therefore, many organizations opt to host applications and operating systems that are absolutely essential to daily operations on a private cloud environment. Another benefit of a private cloud is the ability to customize the network, hardware and storage components to best fit an organization’s needs.

Hybrid Cloud – finding a balance

There are clear benefits to both public and private cloud computing. Fortunately, companies do not have to restrict their choice to one or the other. A hybrid cloud allows you to connect the servers running private and public clouds in order to leverage the best of what each has to offer. And, the hybrid option is often less expensive than choosing either private or public clouds alone. Ensuring effective integration of the two environments is key. A hybrid cloud infrastructure is by far the most commonly used solution in today’s business world.

Determining the right cloud solution can be a challenge. As you think through your overall business needs, taking RSM’s cloud readiness survey will give you results that can help you understand where you are at in your journey to the cloud, and which implementation option could be the best fit.

To learn more about RSM’s technology and management consulting services offerings, please visit our website. You can also contact RSM’s technology and management consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us.