In the early days of cloud computing, a lot of digital ink was spilled arguing the relative merits of private and public cloud platforms. As the market matured and adoption by enterprise organizations grew, it became clear that pitting public and private clouds against each other was misguided. In reality, public and private are complementary approaches to infrastructure hosting. Today, most enterprise organizations combine the particular merits of each platform, using both in hybrid clouds that create infrastructure environments of maximal flexibility.
Under-the-hood, private and public clouds leverage the same technology. From the perspective of the average user within an organization, their functionality is identical. Yet each brings different capabilities that help enterprises deploy an infrastructure portfolio that is maximally flexible from both a financial and operational perspective.
Many organizations choose to base vital or sensitive infrastructure deployments on private clouds, particularly if the workloads intended for that infrastructure are relatively predictable. Public cloud deployments are used for less sensitive applications or for applications in which rapid deployment and scaling are the most important factors.
The public cloud is capable of running any workload a private cloud can run, but the economic and operational profile differs — particularly with the utility billing structure of the public cloud. Most large organizations can benefit from leveraging the specific advantages of each.
A public cloud is a multi-tenant environment, an issue that causes some compliance auditors to balk. This is less of a problem than it used to be — cloud vendors know where their bread is buttered and have made concerted efforts to build public clouds that conform to the regulatory needs of enterprise organizations. Nevertheless, private clouds offer such organizations control and insight into their infrastructure, which many deem crucial.
Of course, that doesn’t mean an organization shouldn’t leverage public cloud platforms where appropriate. Most do, building a hybrid environment that offers the best of all worlds.
There’s no doubt that hybrid cloud environments are the way forward for enterprise organizations. According to a recent study from Microsoft, the vast majority of large companies are leveraging a mixture of on- or off-premise private clouds combined with public cloud services.
There are clear use-cases for both cloud hosting strategies, and once enterprises overcame their initial doubts about relying on cloud infrastructure, they wholeheartedly adopted an approach which leverages each to its greatest strengths.