According to a report published by Forrester in 2011, the future of the cloud computing market is nothing less than extraordinary. The global cloud computing market is projected to grow to $241 billion by 2020, the public cloud market to $159 billion and the virtual private cloud market to $66 billion. Cloud computing comes in three forms – private, public and hybrid clouds. Depending on the type of data you are working with and also the type of services that you require in terms of resource sharing, security, cost and management, you can evaluate the perfect cloud choice to suits your needs.

Although public clouds provide information and services over the Internet, increasing the efficiency of shared resources; private clouds offer services and infrastructure over a private network, which results in greater security. Private clouds are generally preferred when your business is your data and you need strict security and data privacy. Hybrid clouds are those where the most critical applications are hosted on private clouds and the rest is hosted on public clouds.

Public, Private & Hybrid Clouds

Each cloud has its specific function and comes with its advantages and disadvantages. The difference between public, private and hybrid clouds include:

•    Public clouds: In public cloud computing, the services and infrastructure are provided to customers and businesses over the Internet. The services may be offered free (Gmail) or may be provided as pay per use facilities to businesses. Here, the customer has limited visibility into or control over where the computing infrastructure is hosted. Although public cloud services are easy to administer and cost effective, they are not considered as secure as private clouds.
•    Private clouds: This type of cloud is preferred when you require greater level of security and control over your applications. Here, the services and infrastructure provided are maintained over a private network and are generally used by corporate houses. The services offered are usually protected by firewalls. Using private cloud services is more costly because you will need to buy, build and manage them. However, the reliability offered makes them popular and given them potential as a growing market.
•   Hybrid clouds: This service is particularly useful when you wish to maintain different business applications with different levels of security. For example, you may want some applications to be more secure than others. Hybrid clouds services are a combination of public and private clouds implemented by different providers. The disadvantage of these services is that you have to manage different security platforms together and still allow for proper communication between the different business processes.

The real highlight of cloud computing is the flexibility and adaptability that it provides. Cloud computing providers offer their services according to three models:

1.    Software as a service (SaaS): Here, cloud providers install and operate software in the clouds that can be accessed by the users. These services are configured remotely over the Internet and some of the common examples of this service are Google docs, CRM services, etc.
2.    Platform as a service (PaaS): In this service, the cloud providers deliver a computing platform, which comprises the execution environment, database and server. It allows customers to develop new applications using API’s, which can be configured remotely.
3.    Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): In this service, cloud providers offer computers (virtual machines), abstracted hardware, operating systems on the cloud, which are controllable through a service API. Cloud providers supply these resources on demand from their large pools configured in data centers.

As cloud computing is a centralized way of operation, it is possible that a cloud may be attacked or tracked. So, whenever you opt for a cloud service, gain information on the security measures taken by the provider to ensure that your data remains secure and there is no risk involvement.