We’ve established that most of us are already using cloud technology in some form or another. But where does all this data actually live and who runs it?

Cloud computing can be deployed in different ways depending on what services a business needs. The first thing to consider is the deployment model—public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud. The next element is the service category—Saas (Software as a Service), Paas (Platform as a Service) and Iaas (Infrastructure as a service). When a company is considering its cloud migration strategy, it must consider both factors. Here’s a primer on how they work and what they mean for your business.

Deployment models

Public Cloud
Connecting to a public cloud means using an internet connection to access computing resources hosted on data centers managed by a third-party cloud service provider, rather than owning and maintaining these resources on-premise. A shared public cloud has many organizations (or tenants) sharing the same infrastructure.

The largest cloud service providers with data centers that enable massive scaling are called hyperscalers. The big four hyperscalers, collectively referred to as MAAGs, are: Microsoft (Azure), Amazon (Amazon Web Services or AWS), Alibaba (Alicloud), and Google (Google Cloud). Other cloud providers include IBM and Oracle.

Private Cloud
This cloud model is great for organizations concerned about sharing resources on a public cloud. It is implemented on servers owned and maintained by the organization and accessed over the internet or through a private internal network.

A private cloud environment gives you complete control over data and security in order to meet specific regulatory and other compliance requirements (e.g., HIPAA for healthcare, GDPR, GxP for Pharma, etc.).

Hybrid Cloud
Many organizations actually use a combination of several cloud environments. This is referred to as a hybrid cloud approach. Hybrid cloud often includes a combination of public cloud and private cloud, frequently in combination with some on-premise infrastructure. To create a true hybrid cloud architecture, you must set up communication or orchestration between the various deployments.

Hybrid cloud eliminates reliance on any single cloud provider and allows for additional levels of flexibility in terms of capabilities, security compliance, etc.

In the past, choosing a hyperscaler meant picking public over private. This is no longer the case. To support regulatory, performance, and data gravity requirements, the hyperscalers are now offering private cloud carveouts in public environments. VMware on AWS (VMC), Azure VMware Services (AVS), and Google’s SAP, Oracle and Bare Metal solutions are good examples. Similarly, the hyperscalers have been working on private cloud extensions. This blurring of public and private under a hybrid cloud umbrella is likely to accelerate in the future. Over time, we will no longer see a delineation between “public” and “private” but instead, between “dedicated” and “shared.”

A multi-cloud approach is a particular case of hybrid cloud in which an organization uses services from multiple public cloud providers.

Service categories

Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS is the most commonly used cloud application service and is becoming a dominant way for organizations to access software applications.

With SaaS, an organization accesses a specific software application hosted on a remote server and managed by a third-party provider. On a subscription basis, the application is accessed through a web browser, reducing the need for on-device software downloads or updates. Popular SaaS products include Salesforce, Workday, or Microsoft Office 365.

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What is Cloud Computing & Why is it Important?