Mobile phone, tablet, and laptop with cloud to represent cloud deployment models

Reviewing the 4 Cloud Deployment Models

The cloud is convenient, on-demand, and available for many resources, including networks, servers, storage, applications, and services. There is minimal management effort and plenty of self-service aspects to the cloud. The cloud model consists of five characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.

The four cloud deployment models according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are:

  1. Private cloud
  2. Public cloud
  3. Community cloud
  4. Hybrid cloud

1. Private Cloud Model  

Cloud with lock to represent the private cloud

The private cloud consists of cloud services designed for a single organization. Consumers within the organization may include different business units, but the focus of the private cloud is to service the specific business organization. This is important to note as the cloud functions may not scale as easily as with a public cloud. With this model the organization determines the design and scalability of the resources.

The private cloud model is similar to building and managing one’s own infrastructure in which the organization has the option of building the resources itself on-site off-site, or of having a third-party provide the resources. Security and downtime play a critical role in making the decisions to build versus buy, and on-site versus off-site.

For example, healthcare organizations and other industries may have mission-critical applications to consider, particularly with respect to Internet availability, that make the private cloud on-site model their best choice. Or perhaps moving data to the cloud would violate a regulatory standard such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH), Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), or Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) 70. 

Examples of private cloud deployments include OpenStack and vCloud. OpenStack is an open-source cloud platform supporting the IaaS model. It provides businesses with IaaS resources for internal purposes. Once owned jointly by NASA and Rackspace, OpenStack is now a non-profit organization operated by the OpenStack Foundation. vCloud from VMware Inc. is a platform that also supports infrastructure as a service (IaaS) environments. The idea behind the suite of vCloud solutions is to create a cloud-based virtual data center that enables the organization’s IT staff to deliver scalable services to internal business units much like a public cloud does.

2. Public Cloud Model 

Cloud with lock open to represent public cloud

The public cloud is the exact opposite of the private cloud. NIST defines the public cloud as, “provisioned for open use by the general public. It may be owned, managed, and operated by a business, academic, or government organization, or by some combination of them. It exists on the premises of the cloud provider.”

Some examples of highly scalable, multi-tenant services include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Rackspace, Azure, Gmail, and Security, maintenance, and isolation of data between customers are controlled by the cloud provider. The public cloud is great for: 

  • Hosting SaaS applications
  • Managing changing load demands
  • Development and testing environments
  • Reducing infrastructure costs

One of the reasons this model is so popular is the fact that users typically pay the costs on an allocation or utilization basis with on-demand provisioning, and thereby maximize their resources. The public cloud is a great model for information that is not highly sensitive nor subject to security mandates. 

3. Community Cloud Model

Community cloud model: message bubble, thumbs up, and megaphone

The community cloud focuses on providing services for specific consortiums and interest groups. A community cloud is shared by sever al organizations with similar policy and compliance considerations. Data and security are shared between the members with access restricted for those outside the community. Facebook and LinkedIn are examples of the community cloud model.

Facebook is the world’s largest social networking service with over 2.7 billion users (J. Clement, Statista, November 4, 2020). There are no fees to join or to use Facebook as a revenue source through advertising. Privacy is one of the main challenges with Facebook as its policies have been known to change without user knowledge. LinkedIn also is a social networking service, but it caters specifically to professional business users. According to Statisa, LinkedIn has 170 million users in the United States. LinkedIn offers a free subscription along with several paid tiers, with each tier providing additional features.

Healthcare organizations in particular are good candidates for the community cloud. These organizations are concerned with regulatory requirements. This model is a good way of ensuring these organizations meet these challenges, and they can benefit by the sharing of information and resources with similar organizations.

4. Hybrid Cloud Model

Hybrid Cloud Model

Lastly, one of the more popular deployment models is the hybrid cloud. The NIST defines the hybrid cloud as, “a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities, but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load-balancing between clouds).”

The hybrid cloud model might be considered the best of both worlds. There are the advantages of secure applications and data as with the private cloud, while still benefiting from the lower costs of sharing data and applications as with the public cloud. Cloud bursting, which is the process or ability to move from a private cloud to a public cloud, can help balance workloads during peak times and workload spikes without interruption or user intervention. Backup and disaster recovery are another beneficial use case for the hybrid cloud. 

Examples of the hybrid cloud include AWS offering called Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) technology and Microsoft’s Azure. Amazon’s VPC can extend a customer’s data center into the AWS cloud infrastructure. This enables customers to run their application servers in the AWS infrastructure while keeping their data in their own data centers. Data control is retained by the customer while scalability of the application servers is achieved by being in the cloud. Microsoft Azure enables customers to use its PaaS APIs to integrate with their private applications, thereby maintaining the security of their applications.

Moving Forward

These four cloud deployment models have various advantages and benefits to consider when choosing which one is right for your business. Cloud computing is an ever-changing and growing technology that offers game-changing possibilities to IT staff and the business community, one that is here to stay.

Kevin Mahoney is a hospital and healthcare-related account advocate and sales engineer at Amtelco, a manufacturer and supplier of call center solutions located in McFarland, Wisconsin.