Cloud Computing is one of the most hyped and publicized trends in IT. That's because, done effectively, a cloud-based, 'virtualized' infrastructure can offer advantages over traditional datacenter buildouts in the areas of performance, scalability, and even security. As they develop their strategies for implementing cloud computing, many organizations are facing a choice: to deploy a private cloud or leverage a public cloud. So what are the differences between the two, and which is right for you?
Generally speaking, a public cloud consists of a service or set of services that are purchased by a business or organization and delivered via the Internet by a third-party provider. These services use storage capacity and processor power that is not owned by the business itself. Instead, this capacity (in the form of servers and datacenters) can be owned either by the primary vendor (e.g. an online storage/backup company) or by a cloud infrastructure vendor.
A private cloud is essentially an extension of an enterprise's traditional datacenter that is optimized to provide storage capacity and processor power for a variety of functions. "Private” refers more to the fact that this type of platform is a non-shared resource than to any security advantage.
Both public and private clouds have management implications. However, by choosing a public cloud solution, an organization can offload much of the management responsibility to its cloud vendor. In a private cloud scenario, there is significant demand on resources to specify, purchase, house, update, maintain, and safeguard the physical infrastructure. Financially, deploying a private cloud can also create a large initial capital expense, with subsequent investment required as new equipment and capacity is added.
In a public cloud scenario, capital expense is virtually eliminated; the financial burden is shifted to a fee-for-service, often based on utilization and data volume. Maintaining and securing public cloud infrastructure is the responsibility of the vendor, enabling the customer organization to streamline IT operations and minimize time and money spent on system upkeep.
In addition to reducing or eliminating capital expense, many organizations prefer a public cloud solution for its available, on-demand capacity. Accessing the shared resources of a public cloud on an as-needed basis can remove ‘headroom' worries from the IT planning process, freeing an organization to choose services and solutions based on business goals rather than IT conditions.
Akamai's global Intelligent Platform™ provides strong support for both public and private cloud initiatives. Private cloud deployments can benefit from Akamai's Alta application management service, which accelerates application delivery. Akamai's Steelhead Cloud Accelerator optimizes SaaS applications.