While “cloud” technology may seem like a recent concept, this idea developed decades ago, even as far back as the 1960s. During conceptual sketches for the internet, it was often depicted as a cloud, i.e., the fluffy collection of water vapor one might find in the sky. This concept implied that the internet was like an entity floating overhead in which people could connect to access this complex network, accessing various spaces and services.
In recent years, the metaphor extended to include access to storage, data backup, and a whole range of services that one or more people could access from practically any device with internet connectivity. There are two significant types of cloud categories: public and private. Some organizations use a combination of the two, which is called a hybrid cloud. Regardless of the chosen model, those who can access resources on each platform type vary depending on various factors.
What is a Public Cloud?
A public cloud does not mean anyone has access to the data, services, and other resources found on this storage server, instead referring to whether the infrastructure grants server storage to a single entity or multiple. In other words, public cloud storage services are akin to a shopping mall. The owner of the complex rents out space to various companies, and they set up shop as tenants within their allotted facilities.
While each “shop” has a designated location within the mall and its own security measures, they still use the complex’s total resources, including power and other necessities. They can choose whether to open their doors for you or to remain shuttered and operate independently of one another.
The more successful shops that are open at any given time, the greater the crowd they draw. Sometimes the throngs of consumers are so great that you may have trouble navigating the mall, and some stores may be too full to enter at a given time. This increased traffic can cause problems for everyone, including the shopkeepers, but it is just one aspect of running a booming mall.
In this case, the mall is a storage server that offers space to individuals and companies that wish to purchase it. They are all stored on that server, which anyone with proper permissions can access via the cloud infrastructure. Space is limited, so when there is a lot of traffic, it can cause services to slow down or even become temporarily unavailable.
However, even though the mall provides its own security, with so many shops in one place, there is always the possibility that someone could leave a back door open, inviting ne’er-do-wells into the mall after hours to wreak havoc on anything they manage to access.
These are all problems that public cloud services face, as there is limited storage and power available, so high-traffic sites can draw too much of the shared resources, resulting in slow access or even downtime for some (or all) services stored within.
Who Can Access the Public Cloud?
The key to who can access a public cloud lies in permissions, which you may associate with having a username and password that gives you access to whatever services or data are on the server. This is true even if the cloud is private, which, to continue our extended metaphor, is like having an entire building dedicated to a single store that enjoys all the space and resources it has to offer without sharing.
To illustrate, Google Cloud is a service that allows users to save pictures, videos, and other data on their cloud network, which anyone with the proper permissions can access. You can log into your account using a mobile phone, various PCs, tablets, and other devices as long as you can access that server on the web. You are the only one who has access to your storage unless you risk giving someone else your username and password so they can also access it.
Regardless, you cannot access anything else on their cloud network without having a proper key unless you attempt to break in through hacking or other illegal means. In this case, you will face whatever security measures they have to protect their data and whatever consequences result from your actions.
Some individuals or businesses with public cloud space only offer access to people within their inner circle. Even though the cloud is a “public” one because the information is on a shared server, they have chosen to use those resources privately.
The Pros and Cons of the Public Cloud
Anyone can purchase space on a public cloud. There are quite a few benefits to doing so, especially if you wish to run your own website, need a place to store your data outside of a hard drive, or want to run a business or offer another service.
- An Affordable Option: Purchasing space on a public cloud is much cheaper than a private cloud or a dedicated server.
- Scalability: If you discover you need more resources, upgrading to another tier of resources is effortless, which you can often do several times as required. You can even drop down to use fewer resources with little effort.
- Minimal Maintenance: The cloud host takes care of the network maintenance and ensures everything runs smoothly so that you can focus on your own productivity.
- Flexibility: A public cloud is an excellent way to try your hand at new services or projects with little risk and limited cost. You can often use your space in multiple ways and purchase additional space if you need more.
- Security: Even though the cloud provider will have security measures in place, and you can establish your own, there is always the risk that someone else on the public cloud could invite risk, which could then pose dangers for every client on that server.
- Customization: As the cloud host maintains the service, they generally control all the specs. You have few opportunities to customize your space to fit your needs.
- Expense: While cost control is a benefit to public clouds, it can become quite expensive if you consistently need to add additional resources. At a certain point, you will need to decide if public cloud services are still appropriate or if you should consider a private cloud option.
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