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Which cloud for which purpose? The essentials about hybrid clouds, mix clouds, and private cloud extensions

Many companies have proven the benefits of cloud technology and seen cost savings as well as improvements in efficiency. Fundamentally, clouds are differentiated as public, private, and hybrid. While the first are generally available by registration and target a broad public customer base and its data, dedicated corporate and internal solutions, with greater requirements for data security and efficiency, are gaining speed in the form of private clouds. The general rule is that the more closely the solution is tailored to the needs of the company, the greater the potential for savings. And the more “private” the cloud remains, the more secure your data will be. Regardless of what type of cloud you use, we explain the current terminology in the field of cloud computing and explain which type of cloud is best suited for which purposes.

HybridCloud

 

 

Private vs. public cloud

Which cloud can be use for which purpose? Besides the basic decision of whether to store corporate data centrally, the question must be clarified as to what should be stored at which location.


The cloud acts somewhat like a company's fleet of vehicles. Some vehicles are owned by the company, while others are hired as needed. A so-called private cloud is installed and run on the company’s own infrastructure, as servers or clients, and the company retains full control of the data. Servers at computing centres can also be hired and are available as so-called “infrastructure as a service,” with high performance and often scalability. A public cloud, in contrast, is often used when additional data-storage capacity is needed, but the data itself is not critical to the company (such as image videos or otherwise publicly available product presentations). An external cloud provider is responsible for all maintenance of this “platform as a service”.

The main differences between privat and public cloud:

Private CloudPublic Cloud
Runs on the company’s own clients and servers and is often supplemented with IaaS components (hybrid architecture) Run by third-party providers and accessed via the Internet
External access typically via VPN dial-in or AES encryption Access typically only with AES encryption or even unencrypted
Data remains physically within the company and completely under its control Data is transferred to third-party servers, whose location is often unknown and outside of the EU
Company resources are tied up (infrastructure, personnel) Saves resources within the company
Potentially high, one-time, high CAPEX1 assets with lower OPEX level2 Potentially high recurring OPEX items, typically no significant CAPEX aspect
Ideal for sensitive corporate data and daily work Good for data with no security needs and scalable as needed
Internal networking at 100Mbit/s is typically sufficient; data transfer within the company at up to 10 Gbit/s is possible Fast and stable Internet access is a prerequisite for fluent operation

1CAPEX = Capital Expenditures, procurement costs for hardware such as servers, clients, switches, racks, etc. and replacements in case of failure
2OPEX = Operational Expenditures, rent and ongoing costs as payments to the provider(s) of the solution(s)

The decision to go with a private cloud typically involves a more long-term investment due to the hardware required, assuming that the company does not already have the appropriate infrastructure or a third-party service provider running a dedicated server. Hired storage space in a public cloud, however, can be scaled nearly infinitely, but also becomes correspondingly expensive. There is also a potential security risk if the data storage does not meet current security standards and/or takes place in another country, where other, less strict laws may apply.

For these reasons, many companies decide immediately to use a private cloud, or a mixture or combination of these approaches. The mixture of different approaches is then referred to as a mixed cloud, and the use of both public and private cloud services simultaneously is called a hybrid cloud.

 

Mixed cloud and hybrid cloud architectures: the subtle distinction

Most companies already have existing client-server infrastructures. It may make sense here to use this to establish a private cloud solution. Nevertheless, these solutions quickly reach their limits in terms of computing and storage capacity. In this case, less critical data is commonly outsourced to a public cloud. The connection between the two systems in a hybrid cloud approach, however, often becomes difficult. Individual decisions must frequently be made as to whether a set of data may be stored in the public cloud or must be in the private cloud, or vice versa. The trend toward hybrid clouds nevertheless remains. In many cases, the company does not even know that it is using a hybrid cloud.

A more elegant solution is the use of hybrid cloud computing in the private cloud, as is made possible by cloudplan. In this approach, the company’s own hardware is combined with IaaS or PaaS services in order to save internal maintenance and operating costs for the extensive infrastructure and an especially high-performance Internet connection. An external provider provides dedicated servers at a computing centre, on which the cloudplan solution is installed. The advantage here is that the customer retains full autonomy over the data and is not exposed to the risk that its data will end up on some arbitrary system, as is the case with public cloud services. In some cases, the IaaS servers are also virtualised and can be scaled as desired.

In any case, the trend toward in-house client-server infrastructure at companies is sharply downward3, with 36% fewer installations in 2017, while public and private cloud approaches together saw growth of about 25%.

cloudplan is based on a particularly intelligent combination of the benefits of the different cloud worlds. In the solution developed particularly for the needs of companies, the computing and storage capacity of the connected computers is essentially used first. This method is also known as peer-to-peer computing (P2P) and in many cases a central server becomes redundant. By hiring an additional, external private cloud node, data storage can remain flexible, following the approach of hybrid cloud computing. Companies get a completely secure, high-performance private cloud solution without giving up the benefits of infinite scalability and low CAPEX costs, as with the public cloud.

Beyond this, cloudplan enables you to provide business partners with targeted, flexible access to individual files or data sets without needing to expose your entire cloud infrastructure at once.

cloudplan use case small company

All involved locations are intelligently integrated with cloudplan. The benefits of external cloud storage in fast computing centres can be obtained without neglecting security considerations. Credits: cloudplan

 

Which type of cloud is best suited for my purposes?

In 2016, 70% of companies used at least one cloud applications, while 12% were pursuing plans in this regard4. As is often the case, however, the question of which cloud is right for your purposes is answered with: it depends. If you just want to network two or three clients together, you will need a different type of solution than if you want hundreds of clients and servers within your company, spread out over the entire world, to communicate with each other.

In every case, however, you should ensure that data such as 

  • Contracts and patents
  • Personnel data
  • Accounting documents
  • Banking documents and account statements
  • Pitch documents and confidential presentations
  • Internal design drawings and drafts
  • and much more

is not stored at an unsecure location.

So which cloud approach is right for you?

At companies with up to about 5 clients, such as PCs, tablets, or smartphones

The installation of an internal cloud solutions is normally completely sufficient here. Access from the outside is via AES or VPN, and data security uses redundant storage on a RAID system with backup or a small cloudplan package such as “cloudplan Business”.

For companies with up to 50 clients, but only one location

The presence of high-performance infrastructure is important for efficient cooperation of employees within a company. While one switch with 100 Mbit/s bandwidth is often sufficient for five computers communicating with each other and with the Internet, once there are ten or more computers or large volumes of data, a Gigabit network should be installed. This can mean, however, that you need either new computers and/or one or more high(er)-performance switches. As in the example above, you can also use a conventional backup solution here, or install a private cloud on your servers that you maintain yourself, or you can rely on one of the more powerful cloudplan packages. “cloudplan Business Pro”, for example, includes three central nodes per license and even 2 node levels for different hierarchy levels. The supplemental use of IaaS components provides flexibility and an additional, secure storage location outside of the company’s infrastructure.

In large companies with widespread locations

Does your company have several operating locations? This means it is even more important that data is maintained synchronously and the commonly feared version chaos does not break out suddenly due to loss of connections. Is the file at location A now current, or the one at location B? Often it is not just the date of the most recent change that matters, and a detailed comparison of contents costs time and therefore money. Besides this, it is especially aggravating when Internet connections go down, because only locally present data can be processed. The data that resides in an external computing centre or another location or in a public cloud can no longer be accessed by employees at all in this case. Saving is also no longer possible, which can lead to data loss and enormous drops in productivity.

Here as well, cloudplan provides customized solutions. In addition to storing data on local clients, and communications between these devices, the packages “Enterprise” and “Enterprise Pro” (and of course the other packages as well) enable one or more powerful private cloud nodes to be added. These additional servers are operated by cloudplan for you as IaaS/SaaS services and provide a continuously current, encrypted backup of your existing data and an additional, hybrid information node. Your existing, dedicated servers can also be integrated in the cloud as additional high-performance information nodes with no trouble. You retain full control of the data, despite the distributed working environments.

4https://www.idgenterprise.com/resource/research/2016-idg-enterprise-cloud-computing-survey/

Geschäftsmann vor einem futuristischen Bildschirm

With the various terms used when discussing the cloud, it can sometimes be hard to keep everything straight. With cloudplan, you are always on the safe side. Credits: fotolia | © Elnur

 

Other types of clouds

Did you know? There are even more types of clouds, differentiated by the purpose of their application5:

Community Clouds

These are usually dedicated to a particular purpose and their use is limited to a common interest of several companies or associations, for example. It is conceivable that various training centres could access the same study materials, or sports clubs the common results lists within their league.

Hyper Hybrid Clouds

This futuristic term means nothing other than the networking of several hybrid clouds with each other. If a company decides to operate several hybrid clouds independently of each other, and then to network them together at a later time, a hybrid cloud is created at the meta level, which is then a hyper hybrid cloud. Such a scenario is also conceivable in corporate mergers, or when an architecture that was originally planned to be separate is now intended to use synergistic effects.

 

5http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/Legacy/SP/nistspecialpublication800-145.pdf

 

Summary

The cloud solution that makes the most sense for you depends largely on your security needs and the size of your company. While small companies prefer low-cost, efficient solutions, medium-sized companies like to rely on distributed architectures with maximum security against failure. In large companies with several locations, fast access to data and absolute reliability is even more critical to the success of the company.

You can test the flexible private cloud solution from cloudplan at no cost for 14 days with no obligation to find out whether it is optimal for meeting your needs. On request, you will not only get free consultation from us but also a customized solution that suits any budget and any requirements and that—regardless of the underlying cloud terminology—can be securely scaled at any time together with your company.

 



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