The 3-way tussle between hosting providers – Private Cloud vs. Data Centers vs. Managed Third Party Cloud

By: Abhay Ghate, VP and CTO, Nihilent Technologies

It is a foregone conclusion that cloud computing has redefined storage and hosting in the present times. The use of cloud is no longer the prerogative of large enterprises. Even individuals are using various online file storage applications like Google Drive, Dropbox among others.

Let us try and understand what cloud is, before looking at different types of data hosting like private cloud, third party cloud among others. According to Webopedia, it is a type of computing that relies on sharing computing resources rather than having local servers or personal devices to handle applications. Basically, the cloud is a metaphor for the Internet, so this way, cloud computing can be regarded as Internet-based computing.

Private cloud, as the term suggests, involves a secure environment which is accessible only to the client. It is similar to other cloud-based environments, save for additional security available to users through a distinct pool of PCs that can be accessed across private leased lines or secure encrypted connections in public networks. On the other hand, public cloud allows access to multiple clients who access data from the same set of servers. For organizations that require a high degree of privacy and security, private cloud is an obvious choice. The other benefits of private cloud include cost and energy efficiency and greater reliability. Meanwhile, data centers are located on the organization’s premises, and mostly run by in-house IT department.

A company that prefers complete control over data and infrastructure, and which runs varied and complex workloads will do good to have a data center. However, a physical data center is not as scalable as cloud, while on the other hand, it offers unmatched security.

Increasingly there are many organizations who are faced with shortage of bandwidth to monitor cloud infrastructure. This is where managed third party cloud providers come in. They provide granular visibility into highly dispersed cloud infrastructure, which native cloud monitoring tools may not be able to provide. Some of the main features of a third party cloud include:

Management of dispersed cloud environment: One of the biggest benefits of third-party tools is allowing administrators, visibility into the operations of all data center locations. They enable monitoring everything from application load-balancing to even managing user accounts.

    Monitoring SLAs (service level agreement): By making sure SLAs are met, the admin can ensure that the cloud environment is operating to its fullest capacity

Disaster recovery: A third party tool can help enhance disaster recovery functionality thereby ensuring high availability

Process automation: Some of the key processes in the cloud environment can be easily automated using a third party cloud tool

    Costing: A feature of third party tool like chargeback, will be helpful for organizations that like to place a value on different departments trying to access specific cloud workloads. With this, administrators will be able to forecast department-wise growth and work with budgeting to suit the needs of IT.

Upcoming trends in hosting and storage

Virtual containers or Container as a Service (CaaS): A container is an easy way to package applications and carry them across different operating systems. This allows easy onsite hosting, while the more traditional Software as a Service (SaaS) comes with added costs.

Hybrid cloud vs multi public clouds: Enterprises are likely to still consider public cloud as opposed to hybrid cloud, given the cost, time and skills needed to manage infrastructure on-premise and data on the cloud. But the concept of hybrid cloud is here to stay.

Mobile collaboration: In the age of mobile devices, it is more convenient to share /store information on the cloud using mobile devices as against offline virtual desktops. The big names in software, including Microsoft, are all going mobile

Guidelines/regulatory policies governing use of cloud in India

Cloud computing involves a relatively complex data processing relationship owing to its unique characteristics. This makes it difficult for national data protection authorities to asset jurisdiction over data processing operations. The customer normally doubles as a data controller and is required to carry out due diligence prior to signing a contract. The responsibilities need to be reflected as accurately as possible in the contract. It will be helpful if both the vendors and customers consider the following data protection issues:

Liability: India, along with many other countries, makes cloud providers liable for any illegal data they may host. As of now, location is an important factor in undertaking cybercrime investigations. Also, as long as the service provider proves that he has no knowledge of illegal nature of information and removes or blocks illegal data, their liability can be rescinded

Law: Our laws specify accountability for data accuracy and security within an organization. For example, the CEO and CFO will have joint responsibility for financial data, while other data may require a security position in the organization.

Compliance: Rules and regulations will need to published, along with privacy policy and user agreement

Data portability: Refers to the free flow of people’s personal information across the Internet and within their control. It has now become a standard term in the Internet industry in the context of cloud computing, open standards and privacy

Indemnity: As of today, there are not many measures available to mitigate risk related to service disruptions, or damages caused to the information provider. But it is important for the information provider to be aware of third party infringement of intellectual property rights and data breach.

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