Private Versus Public Cloud Computing
A plethora of applications are being considered for the cloud, but it may take at least another year before cloud computing goes mainstream in the enterprise.
The significant differences between the public and private cloud - including the functions available to customers, the cost, security and others - are nowhere more important than when they are called upon to support highly integrated unified communications services.
The public cloud shares resources, costs - and dangers - between users. It is far less expensive and tends to offer more constrained and limited options. The private cloud, conversely, is pricier, enables users to customize their services more closely, usually has more bells and whistles and tighter security, according to its proponents. It is, in general, a more flexible solution.
These differences are important, especially in the unified communications realm. Knitting together voice, video, email and other communications applications and adding a dash of escalation and a dollop of presence involves a level of integration and customization that is particularly challenging in the cloud.
The attractions of the public cloud, however, are no less evident in unified communications than more siloed disciplines. Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) clearly have access to far greater tools in the cloud than they would on their own. Thus, the vital choice of whether to use a public or private cloud for unified communications often rests on both the size of the organization and the uniqueness of what it is doing.
The goal - providing unified communications - can be achieved on both public and private clouds, said Evin Hunt, vice president of technology services for Starview Solutions, a unified communications-as-a-service provider. "You can do most things on both," he said. "The management will be a little different."
Though both will achieve the end goal, they will get there in decidedly different ways. David Byrd, the executive vice president of sales and marketing for Broadvox, which acquired unified communications service provider Cypress Communications in January, suggested that there still is quite a dichotomy between SMBs and enterprises in terms of which will lean more toward private and public clouds.