In case you haven’t heard, the cloud is like pizza. You can have pizza four different ways - at home, via take and bake, delivery, or dining out at a restaurant.

Similarly, there are three different services models when it comes to cloud computing - IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS – and three different cloud types – public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud. With each different kind of pizza experience, the diner handles a certain fraction of the process, and a third party handles a certain fraction of the process.

Going along with this comparison, the same can be said for the various combinations of service models and cloud types listed above. (Below is an image that makes a bit more sense of this).

As enterprise IT professionals plan whether or not to move to the cloud, they are overwhelmed by all of these different combinations. Many find themselves asking, “Should we really migrate to the cloud?” And more often than not, the answer is, “It depends.”

It depends on the sustainability of the workload for a cloud environment, on the level of security a provider can promise, or whether or not an organization thinks they’re more reliable than the cloud provider in question. To help organizations navigate this complex landscape of public, private, hybrid clouds, along with IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS models, I’ve identified the following consistent truths to guide IT's decision when the answer is “It depends.”

Truth #1: The private cloud is real and is most comparable to public cloud when it comes to speed and agility.

There’s a debate that’s been raged for many years about whether private cloud is actually real, and in many cases, it swings back to the argument of “It’s not real – it’s just someone else’s computer.” Now, generally speaking in the industry, it’s become an unwavering truth that it is possible to build private clouds and furthermore, those private cloud environments are capable of achieving comparable speed and agility to public cloud ones.

That being said, private clouds still have a very different set of characteristics than public clouds. For example, almost every private cloud is built entirely as an on-premises concept and therefore, has finite scale. It can only scale to the extent of the hardware you have provisioned for that private environment. Public cloud, on the other hand, has massive scale and often times, a more desirable, OpEx cost model.

Truth #2: There’s no private cloud that will get you storage or virtual servers for as cheap as Amazon and Google can provide it.

More and more IT departments have moved away from saying that their own infrastructure is more reliable than that of the top-notch cloud providers out there. Similarly, IT should know that when it comes to choosing private cloud versus public cloud, if cost is a key factor for your organization, you wont get better bang for your buck with regard to storage and virtual servers than with public cloud solutions from vendors like Amazon or Google.

Truth #3: By definition, it’s impossible to have a private cloud solution that’s also considered SaaS.

If someone tries to sell you a private cloud based SaaS solution, they’re lying to you. By definition, that’s impossible. Instead, the truth is that private cloud solutions most commonly consist of IaaS environments, and rarely, even internal PaaS options that run within the data center. However when it comes to hybrid cloud environments, they’re commonly about IaaS, occasionally about PaaS (something that Microsoft will likely push as a differentiator with Azure Stack) and it’s even possible to access SaaS within hybrid cloud. It would usually be more of an application service provider hosting model, but would still technically be classified as SaaS. While this does exist in hybrid cloud environments, it’s certainly not a use case that we see very often.

Truth #4: You always need a secure network.

A secure network, such as a VPN, is required for any traffic or transactions between two clouds (public or private) and direct connectivity will be expected for hybrid cloud environments – it’s very difficult to manage without this.

With more and more vendors competing in the complex world of enterprise cloud computing, we know that it’s difficult for IT to know if they’re making the right move for their organization. Hopefully, by keeping in mind these unwavering truths during this overwhelming time, making those decisions will get a bit easier.

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