Which Cloud for SMEs -Public or Private?BANGALORE, INDIA: A private cloud brings all the benefits of virtualization technology-fewer servers in the data center, greater hardware utilization, lower power and cooling costs, and more space saving in the data center
Typically, when you hear the word cloud computing, it usually implies a public cloud. This might change in the near future, because of the action happening around private clouds lately. So much so, that a private cloud might gain equal if not more prominence. But is a private cloud really viable for SMEs? Let's analyze its pros and cons.
First, the advantages.
Private cloud is supposed to make your traditional IT infrastructure more agile. You can scale it upwards or downwards as per your business need. For instance, in a traditional IT setup, if you had to put in a new server or roll out a new application, the process would take several weeks, from procurement of hardware and software to installation, configuration, beta testing, and final roll-out. With a private cloud, you can do all this in hours if not minutes. You can disband the setup just as easily. It's all under your control, giving you greater level of customization than a public cloud.
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A private cloud brings all the benefits of virtualization technology-fewer servers in the data center, greater hardware utilization, lower power and cooling costs, and more space saving in the data center.
As compared to a public cloud, it would provide higher degree of performance, because you're not sharing the servers with a dozen other companies. It would be more secure, because you're not hosting your data on a service provider's setup. It's behind your own corporate firewall, meaning your data and apps remain under your own control. This can be great for companies that have to meet regulatory compliance norms, like those into financial services. Lastly, you're not tied down or locked into a cloud service provider's setup.
Now let's look at some of the disadvantages.
If you've not done virtualization, then your setup may not be mature enough to move to a private cloud setup. It does require higher initial investment, i.e. CapEx, as against a public cloud, which is primarily OpEx driven. You also need in-house skills or a third party vendor to manage it, because it is more complicated to setup than a public cloud. So the cost of maintenance and management must be factored in, because it's higher than what you'll pay in a public cloud. Its scalability is limited to the hardware you put in it, whereas in a public cloud, the scalability is much higher.
Private cloud therefore may not really be suitable for small organizations as they may not have the skills to set it up. Moreover, if you don't really need that level of speed for commissioning new hardware or apps, you may not need to go for a private cloud setup.