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What is a Public Cloud?

Public cloud is an open computing environment where people anywhere in the world can buy (or get for free) a small portion of storage stored on the cloud. Public clouds are managed and hosted by third-parties, unlike private clouds which are maintained by individual enterprises. Public cloud is most commonly associated with consumer use for storage of personal documents and photos, but they do offer paid, extensive services for business use. Public cloud can also include service-oriented cloud computing like SaaS, IaaS and PaaS.

How it works for consumers

Public cloud is based upon the fundamental paradigm of cloud computing. This simply means the host of the public cloud is offering storage or some type of service via the Internet rather than through legacy means. The most pedestrian example of this would be a person using a laptop linked to a public cloud to upload vacation photos or a Microsoft Word document. In an instance like this, the person is likely using an open cloud like Dropbox, iCloud or Google Drive, among others. For this reason, public clouds are often referred to as consumer clouds.

How it works for commercial end-users

For commercial use, a public or open cloud environment offers services, storage or applications to the end user through the Internet rather than by downloading an application or software or connecting via server. Many companies enjoy using their “slice” of a public environment because it’s fast, affordable and they can scale up and down based on changing needs. They generally feel they’re getting a great deal because they're only paying for the space they're using. But, as we’ll discuss later in this article, private cloud environments can now offer the same scalability and agility when built using public cloud-like web services.

Nuts and bolts: what makes cloud run

A cloud runs—or should run—on virtual machines (VMs) and containers. The evolution of storage from physical to virtual has meant a change in environments and architecture where applications, software and data are stored. The old logical unit numbers (LUNs) and volumes used to run legacy storage like servers can be reconfigured to work with cloud… poorly.

Virtual machines (VMs):

A VM is, in a way, a simulation of a physical computer’s operating system (OS). VMs are managed by a hypervisor, which isolates innumerable applications, software and data from one another. This isolation means each open application or software is running in its own lane. For end-users, this means a massive decrease in latency and an end to noisy neighbors—no more competing for resources or bandwidth—and lightning speed input/output (I/O).

Containers:

While it's true containers have been around (although primitively) since the 1970s, today they are considered the hottest new storage methodology in virtualization and cloud environments. Containers let users deploy multiple instances of the same software or service in unison across the world. Containers require far less hardware than VMs, and for very large enterprise use, containers can be used as one virtual architecture, creating practically endless and speedy availability of whatever is within your infrastructure. It also means scaling up and tearing down at speeds the IT industry has never experienced before the birth of the container.

Public cloud “as a service”

When you can’t afford to outright buy the pricey software suite you need, or need to interface using a specific platform, you need “as a service” type cloud, which is public and shared with other users, just as consumer clouds are.

Public cloud vulnerability for small business and enterprise use

If you run a business or work for any enterprise that utilizes public cloud computing, what you don’t know can definitely hurt you. Public cloud environments may be well protected by armed guards for their physical servers, but that doesn’t make them the best option for your enterprise. Because you’re sharing space with other consumers, public clouds are extremely unpredictable and unstable. Additionally, they’re susceptible to blackouts and lack the resilience of private enterprise cloud environments like Tintri Enterprise Cloud.

You may find the price point and agility you’ve been seeking when you choose public cloud, but you will also find a lack of predictability and lowered security for your mission critical applications. Perhaps you haven’t switched to a private cloud environment because you’ve heard they’re slower, cost too much, or don’t offer flexibility, agility and scalability that public cloud offers. Today, private cloud—when managed with the right tools—can have all the agility, speed and scalability available through popular public cloud services. Don’t make the mistake of not knowing what doesn’t belong in public cloud.

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