No One Is Above the Cloud: Public, Private, and Hybrid Clouds Defined

No One Is Above the Cloud: Public, Private, and Hybrid Clouds Defined

Cloud computing is marketed as both dead simple and confusingly convoluted. "The cloud is perfect for all businesses, even those with only five employees — just make sure to enable 256-bit encryption!" Explanations like that are why some law firms are reluctant to make the switch, but it should never be that complicated.

In simple terms, cloud computing is the practice of storing and accessing files and programs
via the internet rather than your computer’s hard drive. Cloud solutions can be of the public, private, or hybrid variety, each with its own approach to data security and user privileges.

Basically, the three models differ in terms of security and control. Understanding these basic concepts is the key to a successful IT plan, so let's take a look at each in its simplest terms.

Public Cloud

The most basic of the three options, the public cloud is what most individuals use to store photos and videos (e.g., OneDrive, iCloud, etc.). It is “formed” when a third-party provider like Legal Imaging makes computing resources, such as servers and storage, publicly available via the internet. The hardware and software that make these connections possible are owned and operated by the cloud provider, who rents out space on the cloud to their tenants (businesses and organizations).

Public clouds are usually the most straightforward and cost-effective model, which makes them perfect for hosting data that isn't private or sensitive. Tenants need not worry about purchasing servers or installing additional programs because everything is prepackaged and ready to go. It's a simple, pay-for-what-you-use solution.

The biggest drawback of public clouds is one server may store data for multiple users, and because these resources are shared, security and privacy can be a problem. This is why private clouds exist.

Private Cloud

In a private cloud, all resources and services are managed in a private network that is accessible to a single client or user only. In addition to added security, this model allows tenants to customize the solution to their specific business and IT needs. They also build and configure servers and storage on their own.

If price and technical expertise aren't issues for you, this is the best model. Naturally, private clouds are preferred by organizations running custom software or storing highly confidential information. Many government and healthcare organizations are forced to use these solutions by law. Some industries, such as legal, need something in between the affordability of public clouds and the security of private clouds — which is how hybrid clouds were born.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid clouds, as the name suggests, combine public and private clouds. Many organizations favor this type of cloud because they are often greater than the sum of their parts. For example, tenants can opt to use the public cloud for general computing services and store sensitive information in the private cloud. Or, they may run a program in the public cloud and keep related data in the private cloud for compliance purposes.

In addition, hybrid cloud offers something called “cloud bursting,” where the tenant uses a private cloud to store files or run an application, but "bursts through" to a public cloud following a spike in demand. And just like that, they have access to additional computing services.

Securing and streamlining your practice cuts down on litigation costs and opens up new revenue opportunities. As the premier IT support provider for law firms in the Mobile area, Legal Imaging is the quickest way to reduce your costs and increase your productivity. Contact us today and we'll even give you a free IT assessment!