Private and Public: The Best of Both Clouds

August 30, 2017 jambay

Why a hybrid cloud model that embraces both private and public clouds is key to business optionality and flexibility.

Software today requires a support structure that allows for constant iteration. This means organizations can constantly improve on their software, day-by-day or even hour-by-hour. Cloud-based technology has allowed many institutions to embrace and adapt to a cycle of continuous innovation. But today there’s a false dichotomy in the cloud business: that you need to pick between a public cloud — most likely from Amazon, Google, or Microsoft — or a private cloud — one that you have total control over.

I’m here to tell you that you have more options than you think.

Up until recently, the only straightforward way to get on-demand, always improving, app-centric platforms was to use a public cloud. Period. Private clouds hamstrung a business because they were about operations efficiency, not development acceleration. But platforms are helping fix that and put public and private cloud on equal footing.

But there are some specific reasons for going with a hybrid cloud approach:

Locality and regulations

Take healthcare and banking, which are examples where government regulations may require data locality — meaning you can’t store the data outside of a particular country or region. These businesses may not want to buy or rent dedicated data center space if a public cloud is available in a required location. Alternatively, a public cloud may not have a presence where regulations may require a physical site, so a private cloud might be the best option.

Workload volume

Predictable workloads can be optimal to buy and run on a private cloud because of the cost savings. With unpredictable workloads you are better off renting infrastructure because you can always rent more on-demand, which saves you from having to guess right on how many people will use your new application or service.

For example, one of our customers in the consumer electronics market runs a lot of their software on-premises, in regional datacenters throughout the year where the load in predictable. But during a gift buying season — Mother’s Day, Christmas, and Chinese New Year — they rely heavily on public cloud resources to handle the much higher, variable load that’s required when activating all those new devices.

Ultimately, if your goal as an institution is to preserve optionality and flexibility, then you need to be able deploy and manage your software on both a private and a public cloud.

It’s getting easier

With modern cloud platforms and using cloud-native principles, you do not have to accept bad tradeoffs by running your cloud in either private or public because there are cloud platforms that run well on both. Full stack, balanced hardware and software engineered systems with cloud native software platforms let you take advantage of both public and private clouds.

The gap between private and public continues to shrink as well thanks to features like the Cloud Foundry marketplace. Based on the Open Service Broker API project, this marketplace gives developers in a private cloud access to public cloud-only services, like Google’s Machine Learning APIs, or Microsoft Azure’s CosmosDB. Obviously, I’m particularly excited about the offerings Pivotal Cloud Foundry Marketplace can provide as well as our recently announced Pivotal Container Service (PKS).

Three questions to ask yourself

Before you embark on a hybrid journey, here are some questions to consider.

  1. What criteria does your organization use (disaster recovery, system/equipment age, impact of downtime, etc.) to prioritize which workloads get attention for additional investment?
  2. What are your plans for any legacy apps that can’t be directly transferred to a cloud service?
  3. What’s the biggest business opportunity you expect to find from adopting a hybrid cloud model?

If you enjoyed this post you might enjoy this piece about cloud diversification.

Change is the only constant, so individuals, institutions, and businesses must be Built to Adapt. At Pivotal, we believe change should be expected, embraced, and incorporated continuously through development and innovation, because good software is never finished.


Private and Public: The Best of Both Clouds was originally published in Built to Adapt on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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