What Cloud is Best?

Public, Private, or Both?

I’ve frequently been asked whether public or private cloud is better, when or if a move from public to private cloud should take place, and how I deal with legacy applications as a part of a move to the cloud. The right answer depends on a client’s specific needs. Of course, that answer is too vague for most people, so I thought I would throw out some of the things that inform my recommendations.

There’s a perception that one type of cloud infrastructure is more flexible than the other. However, as Obi Wan said, “only a Sith deals in absolutes”. A lesser known quote of his was “flexible to you may not be flexible to someone else”, although I forget which movie that was from. I would say the same idea applies when evaluating security, cost, and performance. Each type of infrastructure has value when used in a way that maximizes its strengths.

Why Private Cloud?

I’ve worked with cloud technology and virtualization in general for many years. I especially like Private Cloud due to the granular controls and features that you won’t see in many public cloud environments. For example, I can oversubscribe at whatever rate I like, configure VM’s with exactly the specs that I want, and ensure application availability by distributing VM’s over different physical hardware. Additionally, more cloud offerings support a microservices architecture natively, which has traditionally been more of a bolt-on feature. Features come at a cost however and Private Cloud in this form generally requires a slightly larger startup budget.

What about Public Cloud?

While Public Cloud may lack some of the granular control that Private Cloud offers, this doesn’t mean it isn’t good for a lot of things. Public cloud is simply flexible in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to billing for usage, scaling for load, geographic redundancy, and disaster recovery. Many people would point to public cloud as being less expensive, but over time I have seen the opposite can also be true based on the type of utilization. Public cloud is certainly is the least expensive entry point into the cloud, but users are often surprised by the costs related to disk access and bandwidth that can quickly cause bills to increase.

Hybrid What?

I know, the term hybrid gets tagged on hosting and cloud ad nauseum, but the concept really is a more open-minded approach to cloud. For the sake of this conversation let’s define Hybrid Cloud as utilizing private and public cloud simultaneously. Utilizing any or all cloud technology in addition to colocation can take the Hybrid Hosting moniker, as colocation is still generally not thought of as cloud.

The latter has been of particular value to me with several recent clients who have to support legacy applications that can’t be virtualized on mainstream cloud solutions or architectures. I still haven’t found any mid-size service providers that support AIX in the cloud. While that need may seem obscure, it exists none-the-less. Seriously, if you’re out there, call me any time day or night.

Wrap it up!

Having the ability to easily utilize more than one type of infrastructure in tandem allows for companies to purchase exactly the infrastructure they need and nothing more. This should really be the goal, no?

My advice is to work with a provider that can provide a proper evaluation and deliver infrastructure in a size and shape that meets your needs. Ensure that their services work together in a seamless and secure manner. If at any point it starts to feel like duct tape has been used in the creation of your proposed solution it’s probably time to look elsewhere.

Paul Peeler
Senior Consultant, Product Management
Twitter & LinkedIn

Feel free to contact me for more information about cloud performance or to suggest topics for future articles. I always enjoy feedback and I look forward to hearing from you!

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.