Private Versus Public Clouds, Part III: Which Cloud Storage Option is Best for You?
At this point in the series, we’ve defined the five key attributes of the cloud and run through some of the main features of public and private clouds. Now we are going to compare the two breeds and discuss how your organization can select which cloud storage option is best for you. Also, we’ll discuss how Nasuni fits into this picture (hint: it’s Hybrid).
Part 1: "The Five Key Attributes of the Cloud"
Part 2: “Defining Public and Private Clouds”
Any discussion about what you should select boils down to the features you immediately need and value most. A long-term view – while useful and necessary – doesn’t help you solve real problems now. That in and of itself tends to turn many professionals away from the cloud because the value proposition of the cloud is frequently presented as if it’s all about the long run. It’s made to look as if the cloud isn’t capable of providing for your enterprise’s immediate needs. But this isn’t the case at all – the cloud can start working for your business today. You just need to choose the right model. You want the features that the cloud - both in public and private form – brings to the table. Increased utilization, agility – who doesn’t want those?
The private cloud stands on the concept that putting your assets in or on someone else’s network is inherently risky. For organizations that have already built out huge infrastructures, staying private can be appealing from the standpoint of control, performance and security. Take, for example, this article from GigaOM on “Moving Regulated Industries to the Cloud.” In the piece, Paul Miller discusses how various cloud technologies can help heavily regulated industries. The private cloud is among the technologies mentioned because of the features it does bring to the table.
Yet the benefits of the public cloud can outstrip the benefits of staying private. For one, getting economies of scale to work within an organization can be incredibly difficult, if not impossible.
By opting for public clouds, enterprises benefit from the competition between the big providers in the cloud storage space. And the fact that these clouds are externally hosted means companies can fend off unchecked file growth while avoiding the costs associated with adding or maintaining infrastructure. Greatly reduced capex and opex costs are hard to argue with. The public cloud, in fact, is akin to a utility. Just as a business pays for electricity, they might also start paying for secure, always-on storage from a public cloud company.
There are benefits to both public and private, and businesses will obviously weigh the features of each differently. Yet the choice doesn’t exactly have to be one or the other. In fact, it is possible to make the public cloud behave - both from a performance and security standpoint - like the private cloud. This is what we’ve done here at Nasuni with our cloud gateway, the Filer. We understand that there are serious, real concerns about leveraging the public cloud providers, so we’ve made a cloud storage gateway product that’s completely secure and acts like a local device. You cut costs, yet you still maintain strong security and local-like performance. We provide the perfect model – a hybrid one.
With that in mind, there are still reasons why companies might opt-out of the public cloud. The customized, self-hosted nature of private clouds could prove irresistible. Given that there are real and tangible benefits to this choice, we see no reason why the private cloud should be dismissed wholesale. Granted, we fully believe the public cloud is the future. We know it. But until that future comes, the benefits of the private cloud make it a reality, and this is why we support private clouds as well. You can stand up your own EMC Atmos system within your data center, and we will talk to it the same way we talk to Amazon S3. We treat them the same – to us, a private cloud is still just a cloud.
The team here at Nasuni believes in both of these concepts – private and public. Our goal was to make a cloud storage gateway that accentuates the features of both and ultimately makes cloud storage – public and private – infinitely more functional and beneficial for end users. We make it secure, add versioning and strip away the APIs that applications and users might not understand. We span the void from traditional IT and architecture to the bleeding edge technology of the cloud.
Whether you’re talking about public or private, the cloud is fundamentally empowering. End users and developers become immediate masters of their own destiny. IT professionals are freed from more repetitive, mundane tasks. What you choose comes down to a series of tradeoffs. For the public cloud, you trade cost for trust. The private cloud trades trust for cost.
Ultimately, the private cloud might be a transitory concept. As public clouds further mature, we will see the features businesses need in the public cloud materialize. Businesses will gradually adopt a private, then hybrid (part public, part private), and then public cloud approach. The companies large enough to sustain a private cloud might also make the same move as Amazon – and start reselling their excess infrastructure.
Thinking about all three of these concepts – the cloud as whole, then private and public clouds – can be mind-bending. The cloud is a huge trend right now and not without hype. Like all trends, it is being co-opted by people and companies just trying to coast along for the ride. Despite this, the cloud is very real, and very tangible. It’s also the future.
Here at Nasuni, we think the Filer is a kind of glimpse into that future – a hybrid technology that combines the best of private and public clouds, all for the benefit of today’s organizations. Try it out for yourself, or let us know what you think about the future of the cloud in the comments below.