Cloud Adoption Strategies (Public, Private, Hybrid)

We are witnessing a scenario where cloud computing models are proving to be game changers across industries and IT organizations. Organizations globally are already moving towards the cloud and adopting cloud services in one form or the other for their operations. Though adopting clouds may sound easy, it requires careful planning and comprehensive migration strategies because the organization may undergo significant changes in their normal operations.

During the last decade, cloud computing were viewed as infrastructure services on the internet which offered software delivery as a service. During these years clouds have evolved to become mainstream business enabler with substantial business sense for companies. Cloud computing platforms are available as a variety of IT services, mostly as three main service delivery and deployment models. Industry experts indicate the reasons for cloud adoption to a certain set of most straightforward business drivers that include,

  • Costs are optimized: Businesses look for optimizing costs as business grows and expands there is an increased utilization of resources and need for more hardware. Cloud models optimize costs by allowing organizations to hire services and resources which incur only operational expenses. The need for purchase of new hardware and infrastructure is fully eliminated which is a saving on capital cost. Further the cloud infrastructure is managed and maintained by the data center or cloud service provider which reduces the need for IT personnel.
  • Enhanced agility: Clouds due to the method of elasticity can quickly scale up or scale down resources based on usage and workloads. For example, online retailers normally experience heavy usage of applications and network during festive seasons. Cloud models can efficiently handle sudden spikes in workloads without disruptions or breakdown.
  • Improved cash flow management: Organizations face significant expenses in internal IT operations which are due to software licenses, storage, servers, communication costs, etc. In clouds capital costs are reduced into monthly rental cost for subscriptions, this improves cash flow management in the organization.

Cloud Adoption Strategies

The adoption by a variety of industries is largely driven by these business drivers, but cloud adoption is not just using the technology, rather adoption is a journey with extensive planning and strategies. First, a quick brief on how cloud models are used will help in understanding the strategies required for adopting the appropriate model for the business.

Service Delivery and Deployment Models in Clouds

Clouds have two main service delivery models: Private Cloud and Public Cloud. The third delivery model is a combination of private and public clouds and is called the Hybrid cloud.

  • Private cloud services are owned and used by a company internally. For example, private clouds can be found in large enterprises where data, applications, storage and servers are centralized. Private clouds can also be hired from data centers.
  • Public clouds are owned and provided by a third party or provider for use by external companies. For example, Google offers public cloud services in the form of email, storage, etc.
  • Hybrid clouds are a combination of private and public clouds. A hybrid cloud will combine certain public cloud services with the internal or private cloud. For example, data and applications can be private, but the network and communication services can be external (For example, a VPN on the internet).

All of us are aware of three main cloud service delivery models,

  • IaaS: Provides the infrastructure for cloud services. Networks, servers, compute resources, data center, virtual fabrics, etc.
  • PaaS: Provides the operating platform for cloud services, also known as middleware. OS, software development tools, databases, Java TM runtime, Web 2.0, HMTL5, and many other platforms are available in PaaS.
  • SaaS: Offers all application instances for the cloud. Popular applications are ERP, CRM, E-mail, collaboration tools, etc.

Adoption Strategies
Cloud adoption strategies take into account specific business goals, best practices, cloud standards for current and future use by a company. A basic adoption strategy for any type of cloud model will consist of a series of steps that includes Assessment, Planning, Migration and Optimization.
From the perspective of business the adoption strategies to consider for Private, Public and Hybrid clouds are explored and summarized in the table.

Private Public Hybrid
  • Applications are developed only for internal use
  • Application usage patterns are predictable and require low storage
  • Private clouds can be configured to support any application
  • Certain features in legacy applications can be protected. These applications may not work well in public clouds.
  • On-premise infrastructure with virtualization layer in the data center or a dedicated infrastructure
  • Security levels are high
  • Can also be hosted from a data center.
  • Compliance standards are fully ensured
  • Capital costs are high
  • Offers a cloud infrastructure (IaaS) for companies looking to reduce hardware costs
  • Cost-effective solutions for long term storage
  • Enterprises looking for a managed services provider can consider public clouds
  • Data centers maintain all managed services (web servers, application servers, load balancing and other infrastructure).
  • Offers good load testing environment for developers
  • Security is low, low data protection
  • Compliance is not a priority
  • No capital costs. Operational expenses only.
  • Used in scenarios where applications are supported well in both private and public clouds
  • Best suited for customer service interactions
  • Hybrid clouds are attractive for organizations looking for flexibility and scalability
  • Legacy applications and data can be stored in private clouds, whereas networks can be used on a public cloud
  • Security is an issue. Companies must have adequate security planning to protect internal data.
  • Data centers offer a wide variety of hybrid architectures, solutions.
  • Compliance is ensured through SLAs
  • Cost will include both capital and operational expenses

All cloud computing systems and services offer common benefits like elasticity, availability, scalability, and so on. Prior to adopting cloud services, organizations need to assess, plan and develop comprehensive cloud adoption strategies because each service model is different. Developing a well planned strategy will help organizations to deploy the most suitable model to optimize their business operations.