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Cloud / June 10, 2021

What Is Public Cloud?

Gartner predicts that during 2021, worldwide public cloud usage will grow by 18 percent, accounting for $304.9 billion. But what is public cloud? How does it compare to the other two categories of cloud hosting? And what are the advantages (and challenges) businesses face in implementing a public cloud solution?

What Is Public Cloud?

Public cloud is a type of computing service provided by a third party and that is accessible to the public across the internet. There are different types of resources available through the public cloud, including storage capabilities, applications, and virtual machines. Public cloud offerings run the gamut from free public use to pay-per-use and subscription models.

With very few exceptions, public cloud is likely the first kind of cloud most people encounter. That’s because any online program, website, or tool that allows users to access stored, sharable files remotely falls under the category of public cloud. In these cases, public cloud examples include online email services such as Gmail, document sharing tools like Dropbox, and social networking sites like Twitter. More advanced public cloud options designed to facilitate business operations include Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

One defining characteristic of public cloud is that the cloud-based hardware, storage, and network devices are all shared between multiple users; there’s no such thing as exclusive use in public cloud computing.

But while public cloud is the most well-known kind of cloud computing, it’s not the only available option. Public cloud stands in direct comparison to private cloud.

Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud

Where public cloud shares resources and devices among many users, private cloud is a bit more exclusive. More specifically, private cloud serves a single business or organization.

Although private cloud servers are often located in on-site datacenters, they may also be hosted by third-party providers. But whether the actual computers are in-house or off-site, the hardware, software, devices, services, and infrastructure are maintained on private networks dedicated entirely to the organization in question; there is no overlap, and no other individuals or groups may access, use, or view the private cloud resources.

Public clouds tend to cost less and provide a larger degree of scalability than private cloud solutions, though they may also be less customizable. Private clouds provide more control over the computing and the features that are being used, and maintenance tends to move more quickly for private clouds.

Public Cloud vs. Hybrid Cloud

While there’s a fairly clear distinction between public and private cloud, hybrid cloud blurs that line. This is because hybrid cloud attempts to combine some of the best aspects of both public and private cloud to create a more flexible solution and promote improved scalability.

Hybrid cloud platforms make it possible for information to be shared between local, private systems and remote-access, public cloud databases. This allows businesses to get more value from their existing infrastructure, scaling up or down to meet fluctuations in demand, and relying on public cloud to handle any overflow without exposing the entirety of the business’s cloud-based data to third parties.

Similar to public cloud, hybrid cloud is owned by a cloud infrastructure services provider. The difference is that certain resources are maintained onsite and are not shared between other cloud tenants.

Benefits of Using a Public Cloud

Although at first glance, public cloud may seem like a less dedicated approach to cloud computing, the reality is that there are certain benefits to using public cloud that help set it apart. The first benefit is the lower cost of maintaining the infrastructure and services, and the second is that deployment is usually easier and faster.

With a public cloud, there is no need to maintain an internal infrastructure — hardware and software are managed by the provider. Typically, you only pay for the cloud services that you use, and you are not saddled with unnecessary features and costs that are not useful to your business needs. There is often also more flexibility in payment options. Businesses can pay by usage, by the hour, or by user interaction, and there is no need to commit to a fixed cost. Public cloud likewise entails a lower staffing cost, as you don’t need to pay for a team to maintain and optimize the on-site cloud infrastructure.

Public clouds offer a great economy of scale that are difficult to achieve with an internal datacenter. Infrastructure is optimally built in public cloud datacenters to ensure that scalability is infinite, easy, and possible without any downtime or decrease in workload capabilities. Deployment is drastically simplified, as a company needs only to purchase the services they need and then configure and set up their cloud using a secure internet connection. Conversely, an onsite private cloud usually requires a significant investment of time and resources to set up hardware, create and operate software, and configure cloud services.

Challenges of Public Cloud

Every business is unique, so every business will face its own hurdles when making the move to public cloud. For some, the pay-as-you-go model and surprise costs can become prohibitively expensive as users fail to fully monitor or budget for cloud use. For others, surges in data transmission from multiple cloud users can cause increased latency and unanticipated performance issues. But for most organizations, the biggest challenges associated with public cloud are lack of options and security concerns.

Lack of Options

Because public cloud options are designed to be accessible to many different users at once, they tend to take a homogenized, one-size-fits-all approach. This helps ensure the widest possible usability, but often results in services and tools that are never quite perfect for the needs of individual organizations. And because customization may also be very limited in public cloud settings, those businesses that need something outside of the established wheelhouse might be neglected.

Security Concerns

First and foremost, it’s worth recognizing that public cloud providers take security very seriously. In fact, in many cases, public cloud options are more up to date on security measures and offer better data protection than an organization’s on-premises computers and servers. That said, when you place your data into a public cloud, it leaves your hands, and thus you can’t be in full control of how it is protected or maintained.

Depending on your industry, not having direct security control may be a liability, effectively eliminating public cloud as a viable option. Organizations that wish to maintain high levels of user privacy and data security may consider using private or hybrid cloud options instead. However, by working with an established, trusted cloud provider, many security concerns become nonissues.

Find the Cloud Solution That Fits Your Business

In the end, the most important question to ask when contemplating potential cloud solutions is this: What is public cloud capable of providing my business; would private cloud or a hybrid cloud solution be a better fit for my needs right now? Public cloud offers many benefits in terms of cost and ease of deployment and may provide the best return on your investment when compared to more cost-intensive private and hybrid solutions. But if other options seem like the clear choice, then those are the ones you should further explore.

Of course, when backed by the world’s leading visibility-and-traffic-monitoring provider, public cloud becomes more feasible than ever before. Gigamon GigaVUE®, part of the Gigamon Hawk architecture, puts businesses in control of their cloud-based data. The GigaVUE Cloud Suite supports any public or hybrid cloud computing environment. Public cloud visibility offers increased control, so that you can ensure that your cloud is working to help you reach your goals, even when the cloud is not exclusive to your organization. And, with advanced security and monitoring options, you can keep your data in the cloud while staying secure in the knowledge that you’re keeping your data safe.

After all, there’s a reason that more businesses use the public cloud than any other cloud structure, and with Gigamon, you can take the benefits of public cloud computing further than ever before.

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