The Cloud: Public versus Private

Dr. Wendy Ng
Cloud Computing
June 9, 2020

The convenience and scalability of public cloud services has resulted in exponential growth in the market place, predicted to be worth $331 and $370 billion globally by Gartner and IDC, respectively, by 2022. Early concerns on security implications of multi-tenanted systems, have essentially been dissipated by improved understanding of responsibility boundaries and controls to achieve company and industry-specific regulatory compliance requirements. Just about every organisation worth their salt from all sectors, public, private or non-profit will have had, or is undergoing, large transformation programmes which will include public cloud strategies for corporate assets.

Clearly, our understanding of public cloud is maturing and, with it, so is our willingness to adopt it to serve the needs and objectives of the organisation and business. Experience has shown that it can serve an organisation handsomely. One of the early drivers of public cloud is the platform’s capability to deliver operational efficiencies; you will only pay for the services you use, thus there will be no idle severs, networking equipment or technical staff, unable to contribute towards productivity despite capital investments. Whilst this is not a scientific study, a review of the recent results from technology giants suggests at least a correlation between those with significant cloud services and overachievers. Could this be a coincidence?

Public cloud comes in a variety of ‘flavours’ dependent on system management responsibilities of the assets, all of which have the acronym ‘as-a-Service’; services are typically more expensive than basic products. So, it should come as no surprise that at a certain workload, public cloud platforms will be more expensive than on-premise private clouds, where the organisation is responsible for managing the entire infrastructure and systems. Public clouds are also enablers, designed to be responsive to changes to an organisation’s workload requirements; it is no accident that industries which experience significant fluctuations in workloads, such as retailers, are some of the most enthusiastic adopters of public clouds. And, Public Cloud can be easy to adopt – too easy in fact, for holders of corporate credit cards; a subscription to a cloud-based service, to test its capability, can all too quickly become a critical IT service to a section of the business without a proper procurement and vendor fiscal and security due-diligence process. Thus, the ease of adoption of public cloud could increase the frown lines on a CFO – as well as those on the CIO and CISO!

Whilst some workloads will be more suited to the inherent elastic nature of a public cloud, which may also offer a more diverse geographic presence than an on-premise private cloud, the relatively high operational costs of public clouds need to be taken into consideration. At some point, especially for large workloads with predictable (and probably consistent) resource requirements, the cost of initial capital costs of hardware investments will be more efficient for the organisation when the lower operational costs of private clouds are taken into account. Thus, especially for large organisations, a hybrid public-private cloud partnership should be part of its long-term cloud strategy. This will hopefully smooth the lines on our CISO’s, CIO’s and CFO’s brow!

Dr. Wendy Ng

Wendy is Experian’s DevSecOps Security Managing Advisor, where she is an SME for the company’s global DevSecOps transformation initiative. She has honed her technical consulting skills through a number of industries, including aerospace, healthcare, financial services, telecommunications, transport logistics, and critical national infrastructure. Having started her career as a technical consultant at Cisco, she also worked at PwC and Deloitte. Wendy completed her doctoral studies at the University of Oxford and has contributed to the scientific community through peer-reviewed publications. She has been sharing her experience and expertise, addressing key challenges, in her blogs since 2016.

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