Exploring the Cloud Deployment Models: Public, Private, and Hybrid

Written by Kevin McAleer

March 21, 2019

If you’re a SMB technology decision-maker who’s considering implementing ERP, CRM, or other cloud-based business software, you need to think carefully about which cloud deployment model is most appropriate for your organization: public, private, or hybrid. “The cloud” has become an all-encompassing term to describe a rapidly evolving form of internet-based computing, making it all too easy to say you’re using “the cloud” to manage your data and processes. But all clouds aren’t created equal and cloud computing environments can differ widely from one company to the next.

This discussion belongs in Cloud Computing 101 coursework—it’s tempting to skip over!—but it’s very important to sort out the “publics and privates and hybrids” before transforming your technology environment with new software that will be leveraged across your enterprise. Here, we’ll help you understand the 3 cloud deployment models so you can make informed decisions and speak more knowledgeably with vendors and third-party technology partners as you get your project off on the right path.

Public Clouds

When someone says, “the cloud,” they’re probably referring to a public cloud. In a business context, this describes the virtual space in which a vendor offers their software (e.g. NetSuite, Mircrosoft 360, Power BI) over the internet, where customers’ data is stored and processed on the vendor’s remote servers. Customers pay for “what they use,” usually adhering to per-user subscription pricing, and access their data and software tools on-demand. This eliminates the need for customers to manage, house, and maintain on-premise hardware and software.

According to RightScale’s Cloud Computing Trends: 2018 State of the Cloud Survey,public cloud adoption increased to 92% in 2018 (from 89% in 2017). This growth can be attributed to the many benefits inherent to the public cloud computing model. What’s most critical to know is that a public cloud is built on multi-tenant architecture. Resources are shared by the vendors’ customers, making services exceptionally affordable, easy to deploy, and scalable. Learn more in The Rise of the Fake Cloud: It’s Time to Get Real.

Private Clouds

A private cloud is proprietary cloud computing architecture owned by just one organization, essentially serving to make its existing data center more secure and reliable. While a private cloud may be hosted and even managed by a third-party, its software is “single-tenant,” meaning that its owner (as opposed to a public-cloud software vendor) is responsible for infrastructure costs, software updates, etc.

It’s argued that since private cloud environments require a level of infrastructure build-out and maintenance mimicking those of legacy or on-premise systems, organizations that use private clouds don’t experience the same economies-of-scale benefits as public clouds. While there is some truth to this point,the technology brings its own advantages, helping large organizations, in particular, to centralize and keep control of their IT infrastructure in a “highly virtualized manner.”

In fact, the RightScale survey reveals that private cloud adoption increased to 75% in 2018 (from 72% in 2017), proving that private clouds continue to be the right solution for many companies who aren’t “ready” to embrace the public cloud or have limiting regulatory compliance concerns. To meet their needs, many software vendors are making it easy for companies without a public cloud strategy to deploy their software. Take a look at this topic in greater depthin Not Ready for Cloud ERP? Acumatica Offers Unparalleled Deployment Flexibility.

Hybrid Clouds

Offering the “best of both worlds,” hybrid cloud environments combine public and private clouds and are usually maintained by both internal resources and third-party providers. Organizations taking a hybrid cloud approach tend to keep their most sensitive data on their private cloud and run their other business applications and workloads on the public cloud.

But what about multi-clouds?

The RightScale survey found that enterprises with a hybrid strategy actually fell from 58% in 2017 to 51% in 2018—and those with a multiple-cloud (using public and/or private clouds) strategy grew slightly. Furthermore, a growing number of companies are prioritizing public cloud over hybrid cloud initiatives, suggesting a change in focus away from the public-private debate and toward finding solutions that help maximize their cloud computing spend, avoid vendor-lock in, and provide the most flexible and scalable environment.

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