What is a Public Cloud?
The public cloud provides the opportunity to use IT infrastructures flexibly and cost-effectively via the internet without having to invest capital in dedicated hardware. For instance, users can combine IT resources exactly as they want and - with providers of the new generation of cloud computing - keep adapting them to their current requirements at any time. Payment is based on actual usage only.
There are various types of provision in cloud computing. The definition of the range of "public cloud" services and the term "private cloud" were first published in 2009 in the USA by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and are now the generally accepted standard. The difference largely relates to the organisational form and user group of the range of services.
The advantages of public cloud computing
- Flexibility: Unlike dedicated hardware, the data centre in the cloud can be precisely adapted to current requirements and changed quickly at any time.
- Scalability: Level control in load-peak situations is made much easier, as the cloud provider ensures that additional resources with fine-grained scalability are available for immediate use at any time.
- Reliability: The cloud provider guarantees quality standards, and high availability levels depending on the provider. Consequently, users no longer have to worry about maintenance and problems in the event of hardware failures.
- Security: Reputable providers employ in-house security experts who monitor system security around the clock and apply the latest standards. This workload is often impossible for users of proprietary hardware.
Cost savings: With new-generation cloud providers, users only pay for the resources they actually use. Long-term IT investments and the resulting tied-up capital as well as all the associated costs (TCO) can thus be avoided (from CAPEX to OPEX).
What to be aware of when using a public cloud
The technical conditions and pricing as well as the security and data-protection aspects can vary significantly depending on the cloud provider. Providers also support management of cloud data centres and migration of dedicated data and workloads to the cloud in very different ways.
Therefore, it is important to be aware of a few key points when choosing and using a public cloud:
Configuration and scalability: There are providers who offer fixed packages of cores and RAM. This reduces your own flexibility in the cloud. Therefore, when choosing your public cloud, make sure you get maximum flexibility in equipping your virtual data centre and fine-grained scalability of individual resources so that you can structure and change your server configuration and the network precisely in line with your requirements.
Pricing: It is important that the cloud provider has the simplest possible price model with clear price parameters. Billing should be visible at all times, up to the minute and only applicable to the resources actually used. And of course, the cost-benefit ratio must be right. It is best to compare here on the basis of a specific application instance so that you can evaluate the cost and benefit of the providers more effectively.
Migration and data-centre management: Migration of data and applications from dedicated hardware or hired servers to the cloud constitutes a major barrier to many companies, as there are cloud solutions with complex migration parameters and individual interfaces that necessitate extensive training of in-house IT staff. Therefore, the degree of simplicity with which migration of in-house workloads to the cloud can be structured is particularly important. Visual management of the cloud infrastructure by means of a GUI and fast provisioning of the required resources in the virtual data centre should also be state-of-the-art.
Performance and technology: The service provider's technology forms the basis of every good public-cloud solution. Performance and availability for users stem from this. New-generation providers also have recourse to the latest technologies in high-performance computing here, for example InfiniBand for fast data transfer. Make sure here that the cloud provider works with the latest technology and can provide a benchmark test for performance comparison.
Data security and data protection: A provider's security concept is a key factor for the public cloud. Multiple redundancy of data storage and the latest security measures, such as separate fire-protection zones in the data centres, should be standard practice. However, dedicated resources within a provider's cloud are also useful. Only German companies with a data-centre location in Germany can provide full data protection, as these are the only ones that are committed to the legal provisions of the strict German data-protection regulations.
24/7 support: If you have any questions or ever encounter a problem, good around-the-clock support is crucial. In this case, good also means that you talk with proficient experts who can access the system directly or act immediately if required - ideally in your language, of course. The support service should be included in the price.
The public cloud is hugely advantageous if the service provider offers modern solutions based on the key factors. For instance, people with IT responsibility within the company can achieve targeted cost savings, focus on their core business and thus confidently outsource responsibility for complex procurement, set-up and maintenance of IT hardware to a reliable cloud provider.