What is a Public Cloud?
A cloud is an IT environment where an organization’s computing resources are housed remotely and accessed over the Internet. In a public cloud, those resources are owned by a third party provider and accessed as a service by a customer base. An organization’s entire IT environment can be cloud-based, or a subset of elements, such as the operating infrastructure (operating systems), user applications (such as Microsoft Office 360), data, developer tools and testing environments, and network security elements.What are the benefits of a public cloud?There are three main benefits to a properly established and configured public cloud environment:Scalability: A public cloud environment is ideal for small and medium organizations, as well as project-based business environments, because the organization only pays for the resources it actually consumes on the cloud. Project-based organizations, where computing requirements and staffing rise and fall constantly based on active projects can add and remove resources as projects begin and end, making the IT resources efficiently used and no need to build overcapacity into the environment.Upgrades: Most public cloud providers are constantly updating their systems. Users are freed of the need to invest time in installing these upgrades on their own, which is a great benefit.Cost savings: The cost savings of a public cloud can be extensive. First, there is no major hardware to purchase or replace every 2-4 years. Second, in a fully remote public cloud, your organization does not require an IT professional, which can save an organization over $50,000 per year. The other two benefits also have a cost savings element. Scalability means the organization needs not invest in IT equipment speculatively in anticipation of future growth or to handle peak demands. And, public cloud infrastructure mostly eliminates incremental time and investment costs of system upgrades. Note that even if a subset of IT environmental systems are being relegated to a public cloud, organizations can still achieve many of these cost savings.How secure is a public cloud environment?Although there is a perception that public cloud environments are less secure than traditional physical environments, a properly configured public cloud environment can be just as secure as a traditional environment. The best way to understand how cloud security works is to understand its architecture. Providers of cloud environments function essentially as landlords, and their environmental architecture is specialized to allow multiple tenants to share computing resources. From a security standpoint, keeping your systems secure is a shared responsibility, just as a landlord is responsible to keep your building secure, but you must keep your particular apartment secure.What are the drawbacks of public cloud computing?A poorly planned, configured and executed public cloud project can result in a loss of all the benefits of a public cloud system. Furthermore, without a robust security infrastructure, a public cloud environment is an easy target for hackers and malware. It is important that an organization carefully plan their cloud architecture for optimal performance.The first decision is to choose a good cloud provider. Cloud providers range in size from small, local organizations to large providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google. While smaller providers may be less expensive for basic services, the large providers offer additional benefits such as state of the art perimeter security, 24/7 support, faster connectivity, greater scalability, better managed risk (large providers have multiple redundant datacenters) and most importantly, stability. It is no small matter to transfer your cloud systems to a new provider if your old provider suddenly goes out of business.Second, you must decide how to interconnect your systems. Interconnectivity is simplest with a common cloud provider for your entire infrastructure. However, a number of organizations will end up with a mix of physical and cloud systems and separate service providers for infrastructure, applications, and possibly security. Poor connections will cause trouble for your users, or result in time consuming inefficiencies as users need to log in and out of multiple sub environments.Third, your organization needs to secure its own systems. As mentioned above, cloud providers provide some security, mostly to protect their own servers and secure data repositories. However, without adequate security measures, your organization’s own applications and data storage may be accessed and attacked by bad guys. Remote devices, such as laptops and smart phones can still get viruses and an organization’s Web presence can be attacked as if it were at their own facilities.Lastly, an organization needs to properly configure their environment. Many providers have ancillary charges for certain elements, such as static IP addresses (because they are a limited resource). If an organization can operate with exclusively dynamic IP addresses, it stands to save a good deal of money. Also, when downscaling services, sometimes the downscaling leaves remnant environmental elements that an organization really no longer needs but will incur charges if not cleaned up properly. Providers can configure systems to automatically clean up these elements when no longer needed, but that configuration must be properly set. As an ongoing maintenance element, an organization needs to track their usage to insure they cloud environment is properly rightsized for the organization’s use.ETTE Can HelpAfter reading about all the requirements to properly set up and maintain a public cloud environment, one might wonder if IT personnel costs are actually saved at all. The answer is a resounding yes, if you choose ETTE to provide IT environmental management services. ETTE has extensive experience configuring and maintaining public cloud organizational IT environments. As a provider specializing in security systems, we can insure your network is as safe as it can possibly be, based on your organization’s unique needs and budget. ETTE also has an entire team of IT experts on various elements on hand who can provide a breadth of expertise not normally present in a single IT provider. Contact us to find out more about our surprisingly affordable managed IT options.