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BWW Media Group / Exploring the limits of the public cloud

Exploring the limits of the public cloud

Here’s a cautionary tale about putting one’s eggs in even a very big basket: A global Google Cloud outage on Monday brought down Google services ranging from Gmail to YouTube to Google Workspace. In the process, the 50-minute-long failure — which the company has blamed on a problem with its automated storage management — brought to a screeching halt businesses that rely on the public cloud for their data resources.

Along the way, it may have inspired your buyers to think again about their own cloud choices. That’s a conversation you should be ready to have.

Public cloud

Public cloud services — which include Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services as well as Google Cloud Platform and a slew of more-specialized offerings — have plenty of advantages that appeal especially to smaller businesses. Because these big companies handle all the computing from their end, companies don’t have to shell out for hardware of their own. For modest, prices, they can take advantage of services such as computing power, infrastructure, storage space, applications and more. These capabilities are immensely scalable, so organizations can increase their capacity along with demand simply by paying a larger increment to the provider.

Private cloud

By contrast, a private cloud is used exclusively by a single organization. It may be physically located at the organization’s own datacenter or it can be hosted by a third-party service provider.

Google, Microsoft and Amazon all offer virtual private clouds, which runs an organization’s capabilities on a distinct, software-defined set of virtual machines and communications channels. These VPCs do offer more security, flexibility and stability (at a higher price) — but ultimately, they all are subsets of the providers’ public cloud environments.

A true private cloud requires the infrastructure and personnel overhead of a dedicated physical datacenter — and it comes with its own set of disaster recovery and business continuity concerns that depend on how well that datacenter is reinforced against mishap and equipped to fail over if the worst does happen.

Hybrid cloud

Because of this set of advantages and disadvantages, many organizations have opted for hybrid cloud solutions, which combine a private cloud with one or several public-cloud services.

A hybrid cloud dissipates the risk of relying on public cloud services at a lower price point than an exclusive private cloud, and it also can absorb short-term spikes in data demand. To many users, it represents the best of both worlds.

Bottom line: Cloud computing is going to be a factor in the IT infrastructure of all but the smallest specialist companies. The Google outage was a wake-up call that cloud resources aren’t all the same, and that your buyers need your perspective to help ensure that they’re making the base choices for their business.