Are you trying to find the perfect cloud server solution for your business or project? Public cloud is a go-to for a variety of reasons ranging from ease of use to low maintenance costs. But is a public cloud the right choice? And what’s the difference between this and private cloud? We’ll dive into a public cloud’s pros, its cons, and how it can be used for various aspects of your business.
What is public cloud?
A public cloud is a type of cloud computing managed by a third-party provider. Some are free for a limited amount of space, while others use on-demand or “pay-as-you-go” price modelling. It allows users from anywhere in the world to access a variety of resources and services, such as virtual machines (VMs), storage, and applications. It’s even possible to access tools that allow you to develop code, store data in a database and much more.
With a multi-cloud approach, it’s possible to combine “multiple public clouds” to fit the needs of various business functions to create an infrastructure of their own. We’ll dive into how this works in more detail a little later on.
What are common examples of public cloud?
You may have come across various public cloud types during your web search. Google Workspace, iCloud, Dropbox and Amazon Web Services are some of the many solutions out there. Another less thought-of example is streaming sites like Netflix, which also work on a public cloud model.
How does a public cloud work?
A public cloud service provider will use a data centre (or set of data centres) and divide them into VMs to share among tenants. This “multitenancy” approach means multiple users can use the same public cloud service, but have their own VM to work with that’s separate from others.
These users, or tenants can rent these VMs, or pay for additional cloud-based services such as storage, application development tools, or software applications. In general, public cloud services are frequently used by businesses for applications that require less security and have unpredictable usage patterns or for storing data that is not frequently accessed.
What types of public cloud are there?
There are various types of public cloud solutions businesses and individuals can use, depending on what they need them for. Here are the three most common types of public cloud.
A SaaS public cloud (Software as a Service) is a cloud-based software delivery model that focuses on the needs of the end user. The provider offers their software solution online through a subscription-based service, which users can access using unique login details. This cloud model operates on remote servers and is maintained by the provider. Users can access the software through web browsers and mobile devices.
In terms of common uses, SaaS can come in a variety of solutions such as customer management (CRM systems), collaboration tools, and task management.
Platform as a Service public cloud (PaaS) is a service that offers an environment and platform for developing, launching, and managing applications online. With a PaaS public cloud, the provider is responsible for managing the underlying infrastructure, including storage, servers, networking, and operating systems, while customers focus on developing and running their applications. If a user wants to manage the underlying structure themselves, then there’s another public cloud model where this is possible.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS public cloud) is a cloud computing service that allows users to access virtual machines (VMs) that help customers build an infrastructure for PaaS servers, additional storage, networking and more. Essentially, it allows tenants to build, manage and control their very own IT environment. The main benefit of IaaS is the ability to run different applications and operating systems on a public cloud via the internet too, so some public cloud service providers may also offer additional features like firewalls and other security features.
What other types of public cloud are there?
There are some less-commonly found public cloud services out there that may suit some business functions:
DBaaS, also referred to as a “managed database service”, is a type of public cloud service that lets users manage a cloud database system without having to provision the hardware and software associated with it. This allows users to simply utilise their DBaaS, and let the public cloud server provider manage all backups, updates and security patches.
Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) is a cloud-based computing service that enables users to execute code in response to specific events without the need for managing complex infrastructure However, with FaaS, the cloud provider automatically handles the physical hardware, virtual machine operating system, and web server software management. This allows developers to focus solely on individual functions in their application code.
This is not to be confused with PaaS. The difference between PaaS and FaaS, is that the former provides a platform for developers to build, test, and deploy their apps and software, while FaaS only provides the ability to run code in the cloud.
What is a Multi-Cloud?
“Multiple public clouds” is what truly defines a multi-cloud. It differs from a hybrid cloud, in a sense that it exclusively uses multiple public clouds to function. By using multiple clouds, businesses can run different functions on different clouds, covering all business needs. This multi-cloud approach can use several public cloud types, such as IaaS, SaaS, or PaaS services, to cover all the features they can provide.
A multi-cloud approach doesn’t come without its disadvantages though. For example, it can leave a business more vulnerable to attacks as each system operates on a public cloud. Additionally, if services in multiple clouds need to communicate, latency issues may arise, especially if the data centres are far apart from one another.
Despite these drawbacks, a multi-cloud approach may be cheaper to run in the short or long term, depending on business requirements. It can also be easier to operate without a dedicated IT team and can help businesses avoid feeling "locked in" to one type of cloud.
What is the difference between public cloud and private cloud?
There are many differentiating factors between a private cloud vs public cloud. In simple terms, A private cloud is a type of service that is exclusively managed and controlled by the business internally and is not shared with others. It can be accessed using the business’s own network or through the internet. On the other hand, a public cloud is a subscription-based service that is available to all customers who require similar services to a private cloud, but are pre-configured by the third-party provider.
A private cloud will typically grant the customer full root access. This means they’ll be responsible for adding infrastructure, software, security, storage allocation and much more to ensure it functions in line with business needs. A public cloud however, comes with these features already available, and the tenant simply needs to scale it if they require more (or less) resource.
Advantages of public cloud
As we’ve discussed, a public cloud is opted for by tenants who want a solution that’s managed by a provider. While you have your own VM, you also share the public cloud with other tenants too. Let’s dive into the advantages of this.
Advantages of public cloud
Typically, a public cloud is much cheaper to get started with, especially when you compare the prices to other hosting solutions like private cloud or dedicated servers. If you opt for a public cloud solution, you’ll usually pay a monthly subscription fee, which, depending on the provider, may vary depending on your monthly usage. This can be seen as a benefit for some, particularly if you only need to access your public cloud solution for a limited amount of time or resource.
In addition to this, you won’t have to pay someone to manage your public cloud, as the price will generally include a management fee by your public cloud provider.
2. Use as a backup
Public clouds can simply be used as a backup storage space if required. This saves businesses from having to worry about other expensive hosting solutions, or worse, physical storage solutions like external hard drives, which can be easily lost or damaged.
3. You can scale them
You can scale a public cloud to your heart’s content. Simply add more CPU, RAM, storage and the like. This is especially useful if your business grows and you need the additional resource. Plus, you can find competitive rates between public cloud providers, as they’ll want to ensure their hardware is being utilised as much as possible, and may even promote discounted rates.
4. Little maintenance required
While it’s good practice to regularly review what’s on your public cloud, things like security patches, updates, new tools and add-ons are almost always managed by the provider. This means less hassle or worry on upkeep, meaning you can focus on running your project or business.
5. Get the latest updates
Public cloud providers are continuously introducing new services which may benefit your business. These can be things like new storage solutions, frameworks, API integrations… the list is endless. These new features can save companies from having to seek them out and integrate it themselves, which is usually the case for private cloud servers.
6. They’re reliable
Do you host services in different areas? Public cloud providers typically have a robust infrastructure with multiple data centres in different regions across the globe. You could take advantage of reduced redundancy, should you go with a provider with a data centre in your chosen region.
7. There’s no commitment
Vendor lock-in can be an issue. However, due to the monthly subscription model for most public cloud servers, you can generally cancel your subscription right away. Obviously, you’ll have to ensure your data is safely migrated elsewhere.
Disadvantages of public cloud
As a public cloud is a shared infrastructure (despite splitting it out with their users), it’s still ultimately a shared space. This means tools, hardware, software and the like are allocated per user on the same public cloud server. Security concerns are valid here, particularly as some may worry about their data leaking to another user. This is especially true if you incorporate a multi-cloud approach where one of your cloud providers doesn’t have the latest security patches and renders your data at risk.
2. Limited control
Public clouds have their own infrastructure that tenants use to their advantage. While this is great for users who don’t have to worry about building their own, there may come a time where having your own infrastructure is required. Moving to a private cloud isn’t always the best solution, particularly if you don’t have the personnel required to upkeep the server. So while it’s great to have your infrastructure taken care of, you won’t have control to tailor it to your business.
3. It can be costly
Public clouds are cheaper to start up with compared to private clouds. However, the more resources you consume, the more you’ll have to scale up. This may not be a problem for some businesses at all, but if you’re experiencing a huge period of growth and your public cloud just isn’t cutting it, then you may have to upgrade your service to match. Plus, some cloud providers operate on a “pay-as-you-use” model, and if there’s a busy period within your business, your monthly costs could shoot right up.
4. Problems migrating servers
Although there is no mandatory commitment, switching to another provider on a public cloud can be a complicated process, especially if you’ve established specific structures, or depend on add-ons provided by the original public cloud service. This can result in being "locked-in" and make the migration process to a different provider difficult. In contrast, having a customised solution built by an IT expert on a private cloud can be more beneficial.
5. Dependency on the internet
Unlike private cloud servers that can still function using an internal network, public clouds rely almost exclusively on internet access. This can be an issue if your internet were to experience downtime, because you won’t be able to access your public cloud and its resources for daily functioning.
Public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud – which is better?
Choosing between public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud or multi cloud depends on various factors which are unique to a business’s needs. There is no definitive "better" option as each cloud deployment model has its own unique pros and cons.
We know that public clouds are scalable and cost-efficient to begin with. It provides on-demand resources and services, allowing a business to scale quickly and pay only for the resources they use. However, with more complex business needs overtime, you’ll need to determine if your public cloud(s) can measure up to the task, or require a hybrid/private cloud solution.
If you did invest on a private cloud, you can revel in far greater control, customisation potential, and added security. This is because a business will have full root access over its infrastructure and can tailor their cloud in accordance with business requirements. The private cloud environment is also isolated to that business internally and isn’t shared with anyone else.
Can you enjoy the best of both worlds? With a hybrid cloud deployment, you certainly can. Hybrid cloud combines the benefits of both public and private clouds, offering a flexible and scalable environment. You can use a public cloud for non-sensitive workloads, and a private cloud for sensitive data. Naturally, having both solutions can raise some eyebrows when it comes to costs, however, it’s worth the investment if you need to be compliant with data security and your business requires a more bespoke solution.
Considering a private cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud solution? Contact Fasthosts for advice on how to pick the best cloud solution for you. Our cloud servers come with full root access, a pay-as-you-use model, and scalability so you only pay for what you really need. If you’re still in the market for a server, explore our other hosting options such as VPS hosting, dedicated servers and much more.