By Kris Bliesner

The pundits would have you believe there is a popular debate
and a difficult decision among IT architects – whether to go with a private
cloud deployment, public cloud deployment, or a hybrid combination. They say
the decision comes down to factors that are individual to each organization. But
the truth is, there really is no debate at all (at least there shouldn’t be).

Private cloud is inefficient. It is built on a model that encourages
bad overprovisioning. In fact in order to get maximum benefit from private
cloud – true elasticity – you have to overprovision. The public cloud, on the
other hand, is the most widely applicable and delivers the most value to a
majority of businesses.

Here is why the public cloud should be your only
consideration:

#1 The need for
regulatory compliance.
Security or privacy regulations and audits are often
years behind the industry, but their rules can be challenged. We’ve seen
customers exceeding auditors’ expectations, make a case for their architecture,
and win the day, providing them with all the benefits of a public cloud
architecture with all the security needed by common regulatory requirements,
even HIPAA, SOX, or DOD standards. This is hard to replicate with private
clouds, because with internal data protection you are going to have internal
SLAs and internal compliance checklists, which require frequent upkeep, higher
costs and a more complicated infrastructure.

#2 Start-up companies
need the public cloud.
These companies are often involved in development
with uncertain requirements. They don’t know what they might need day-to-day.
And many can be on a very tight timeline to get their products to market. These
situations mandate a public cloud deployment, like AWS, where more or less
resources can be configured and absorbed in a matter of minutes. While they
might maintain a small infrastructure onsite, the majority of their
infrastructure simply has to be in the public cloud.

#3 Security needs to
be a primary concern for any cloud-based deployment.
Web and cloud security
can change very quickly; and some perceive a public cloud infrastructure to be
more vulnerable than a private cloud, but that’s actually a misconception. A
private cloud allows IT to control the perimeter; but it’s also responsible for
staying on top of a rapidly shifting security landscape and making all required
fixes, updates, and upgrades. Public clouds take care of all that. Data is
protected by both managed security on a software and physical level, since
large-scale data centers like those used by public cloud providers have
state-of-the-art security. For example, more than half of the U.S. Government
has moved to the public cloud; and surprisingly the banking industry holds the
most activity (64 percent) in the public cloud – over social media, online
gaming, photo applications, and file sharing. [IT Consultants’ Insight on Business
Technology, NSK Inc.
, “7
Statistics You Didn’t Know About Cloud Computing
.”]

#4 The need for
redundancy and disaster recovery.
To truly make a private cloud redundant,
you need to host virtual mirrors of the entire infrastructure across multiple
hosted providers, which can be public clouds themselves. To keep it completely
private, organizations need to run those data centers itself – a vastly
expensive proposition. There really isn’t a better choice for this scenario
than a well architected cloud deployment. Taking AWS as an example, this cloud
can be incredibly redundant if you take advantage of its lesser known features.
Region-to-region redundancy, for instance, means the infrastructure is backed
up not just in different data centers in the same general region (like the US
Northeast, for example), but also in a second, removed region (such as the
Pacific Northwest). Many AWS customers don’t even consider this and feel that
multiple zones in the same region are enough. That’s possible, but opting for
region-to-region puts data and virtual infrastructure in two very different
locations, and should anything happen to one, the odds are very small that anything
happened to the other. AWS can get very granular with such deployments, too,
offering around the world redundancy and even ensuring that certain data
centers are located on different seismic plates. This can be mirrored with a
private cloud deployment, but the cost is colossal.

#5 Which brings us to
the issue of cost.
Budget is, of course, a huge factor in this decision and
becomes a highly individual consideration with multiple factors that can affect
a decision. Companies with large amounts of infrastructure already installed
might find it cheaper to implement a private cloud, since in many cases they
already have not only the hardware but also the operating systems and
management tools required to build a private cloud. But the flip side is that
hardware infrastructure, and the demands made on it by software, especially
operating systems, changes about every 3-5 years.

Public cloud deployments are entirely virtual, which means
the hardware hosting those virtual machines is irrelevant because it’s on the
provider to keep that infrastructure current. That represents significant cost
savings long term. Smaller companies that need to stretch their investment as
far as it can go will see those benefits right away. These organizations will
be very attracted to not only the infrastructure services offered by the public
cloud, but also the application-level services offered by partners and other
customers of providers like AWS. In this case, an organizations is not only
deploying servers in the cloud, it’s feeding end-user applications on a
subscription basis, bypassing the cost of software licensing, deployment, and
updating. That’s very attractive to companies that want to be agile, regardless
of the size of the company, with limited IT resources, and even companies who
analyze their annual expenditures and find a public cloud deployment compares
favorably to that cost.

Most IT professionals and market researchers contend that while
the majority of businesses today are eyeing a hybrid deployment, that’s really
because they’re being conservative. Yet we know that data centers are a single
point of failure. So can we really afford to be conservative? How many private
cloud deployments are fully redundant across multiple physical buildings on
separate flood plains and earthquake zones? For the small group that has
implemented full redundancy at the data center level – try asking for their
hypervisor license bill and their maintenance and support labor costs.

Private vs. public is a hot debate among technical circles, but
in most cases, taking a long, careful look at the public cloud will show it to
be the best-case answer. Is successful private cloud deployment possible? Of
course. Is it efficient? No.

Kris Bliesner is CEO
and Co-Founder of 2nd Watch, Inc. In his position, Kris is responsible for the
company’s growth and sustainability. Kris oversees strategic development of 2nd
Watch’s cloud based software solutions, the technology development and customer
technology solutions, the technology group, and the technology trends for the
company.