Cloud 101 for your Business

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Determining which type of cloud is right for your business requires just a little high-level knowledge of the various types of cloud computing. Clouds are typically defined according to three types: public, hosted (also called virtual private), and private. The main distinguishing factor between the three is the level of sharing or “privacy” enabled — an important aspect to consider when data security and privacy come into play, as well as the country and industry in which you do business, along with your business needs.

Public ≠ Private

The least private type of cloud is “public.” As the name implies, it is shared with the general public. These clouds offer the greatest level of efficiency, but are also more vulnerable than private clouds, as a user you may not know where your data is maintained or what type of backup and disaster recovery capabilities are in place. An example of this would be any of the well-known free email systems users can sign up for, such as Yahoo or Gmail. As a user, you don’t know where your data is or if the information is being backed up on a regular basis.

Virtually Private

Stepping up from public cloud we enter the realm of “hosted” cloud, also called virtual private cloud. Virtual private clouds are popular with software as a service (SaaS) providers where customer data contains either personal or sensitive information that falls under data privacy and security requirements. Here we have an increased level of security since private clouds can only be accessed by designated people. By using a virtual private cloud, service providers know where their customers’ data is and can ensure that it resides in a particular geography or country if required, and that it’s being backed up regularly. Virtual private clouds do take a little more time to set up than a public cloud due to the increased security requirements.

Exclusive Access

Private clouds are most often used within organizations versus offered via service providers — for instance within a corporation wherein “the cloud” is reserved for use by corporate personnel only. Access is secured and the personnel who manage the cloud know exactly where the data is. There is usually an increase in costs for purchasing and maintaining the hardware, as well as additional IT resources.

When determining if going to the cloud is the right choice for your business, ask yourself (and prospective providers) four fundamental questions. Will it reduce costs? Will my data be secure? How will I access my data? How available will my data be? The answers will go a long way in deciding which option is the right fit for your business.

Today’s blog post is from Kris Logsdon, a member of the cloud solutions team at Perceptive Software, a Lexmark company.

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