What is Public Cloud Computing and How Does It Work? | SUSE Communities

What is Public Cloud Computing and How Does It Work?

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Graphic illustration showing multiple hands interacting with a stylized cloud labeled 'PUBLIC CLOUD' against a digital world map background, symbolizing global connectivity and cloud computing services.

In the ever-evolving technological landscape, cloud computing has emerged as a cornerstone for modern businesses, offering unparalleled flexibility, scalability, and efficiency in managing IT resources. At its core, cloud computing allows organizations to access and utilize computing services—such as servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the internet, enabling faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. Among the various models of cloud computing, the public cloud stands out for its ability to provide vast computational resources on a shared infrastructure, making it an essential subject for businesses looking to harness the benefits of cloud technology.

Understanding the public cloud model is crucial for organizations aiming to optimize their operations and drive innovation. The public cloud definition encompasses a framework where cloud services are offered over the internet by third-party providers, making resources available to anyone willing to purchase or rent them. This model of public cloud infrastructure is designed to deliver IT automation, high-performance workloads, and cloud elasticity, ensuring that businesses can scale their resources up or down based on demand, while also prioritizing data privacy.

As we delve deeper into the realm of public cloud computing, it becomes apparent that its advantages extend beyond simple cost savings. It fosters an environment where businesses can thrive in a competitive market by leveraging IT automation for streamlined operations, ensuring data privacy amidst growing cyber threats, and accommodating high-performance workloads with ease. This introduction aims to shed light on the significance of public cloud computing, setting the stage for a comprehensive exploration of its workings, benefits, and considerations in the following sections.

Definition of Public Cloud

The public cloud is a paradigm in cloud computing that epitomizes efficiency, scalability, and accessibility in the digital age. It operates on a basic concept where computing services and infrastructure are hosted by third-party providers over the Internet, making them available to businesses and individuals on a pay-per-use or subscription basis. This model’s defining characteristics include its open nature, allowing multiple tenants to share the same resources while maintaining the privacy and security of their data and applications. Public cloud infrastructure is built on the principles of IT automation, ensuring that resources can be dynamically allocated and managed to support varying workloads, from everyday business applications to high-performance computing tasks.

When compared to private and hybrid clouds, the public cloud stands out for several reasons. A private cloud is dedicated to the needs and usage of a single organization, offering greater control and security at the expense of scalability and cost-efficiency. On the other hand, a hybrid cloud combines elements of both public and private clouds, providing businesses the flexibility to distribute their workloads across both environments based on their specific needs, such as compliance requirements or peak demand periods. This allows organizations to enjoy the scalability and cost-effectiveness of the public cloud while retaining critical workloads in a more controlled private cloud environment.

The public cloud’s essence lies in its ability to provide cloud elasticity, enabling businesses to scale their IT resources up or down with ease, depending on their current needs, without the upfront cost of building and maintaining their infrastructure. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for supporting high-performance workloads that require significant computational power temporarily. Furthermore, the public cloud model emphasizes data privacy, with providers implementing stringent security measures to protect sensitive information, even in a shared environment. By offering a blend of accessibility, resource efficiency, and robust security measures, the public cloud emerges as a compelling choice for businesses looking to leverage cloud computing’s full potential.

Public Cloud Services (IaaS, Paas, SaaS)

Vector graphic of hands pointing to cloud computing elements with icons for Infrastructure, Platform, and Software on a digital world map background, symbolizing the components of cloud services.

cloud stack combination of IaaS PaaS and SaaS Platform Infrastructure Software as a service vector

The public cloud ecosystem is rich with services designed to cater to a broad spectrum of IT needs, enabling businesses to focus on innovation and growth rather than the underlying infrastructure. These services can be broadly categorized into three main types: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): provides virtualized computing resources over the Internet. It offers the foundational elements of cloud computing, including virtual servers, storage, and networks, allowing businesses to build and manage their applications with unprecedented scalability and flexibility. IaaS enables organizations to rent infrastructure on an as-needed basis, reducing the need for significant capital investments in physical hardware.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): delivers a framework for developers to build, test, deploy, and manage applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. This model facilitates the rapid development of applications, providing a suite of tools and services that streamline the development process. PaaS is ideal for developers seeking to minimize the complexities of server management and focus on coding.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS): offers access to application software and databases. SaaS providers host and maintain the software, handling any updates and infrastructure security. This service allows users to connect to and use cloud-based apps over the internet, simplifying application access and reducing the burden of software maintenance on end-users. SaaS is widely adopted for its ease of use, subscription-based pricing, and the ability to access powerful software from anywhere.

How Do Public Clouds Work?

The architecture and infrastructure of public clouds are designed to deliver a scalable, accessible, and secure computing environment to businesses and individuals across the globe. At the heart of a public cloud’s operation lies a network of data centers, equipped with high-capacity servers and storage systems, interconnected through a robust networking infrastructure. This setup ensures that resources such as computing power and storage are readily available to meet the demands of users, ranging from small startups to large enterprises.

Scalability is a fundamental characteristic of public clouds, allowing for the dynamic allocation of resources based on user demand. This elasticity ensures that applications can scale up resources during peak times and scale down when demand wanes, optimizing cost efficiency and performance. Accessibility is another critical feature, with services available over the internet, providing users the flexibility to access applications and data from anywhere, at any time.

The multi-tenancy environment of public clouds means that the same physical resources are shared among multiple users or organizations, with strict security and privacy controls in place to protect each user’s data and applications. This model maximizes the utilization of resources, contributing to the cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency of public cloud services. Through a combination of advanced virtualization technology, robust security measures, and comprehensive management tools, public clouds offer a powerful, flexible, and secure platform for hosting a wide range of applications and workloads.

Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud

When considering cloud computing solutions, businesses often weigh the benefits and drawbacks of public and private clouds to determine which best suits their needs. Public clouds are provided over the internet by third-party providers and offer scalable, flexible, and cost-effective resources shared across multiple organizations. The main advantages of public clouds include lower upfront costs, as there is no need to invest in and maintain physical hardware, and greater scalability, allowing businesses to adjust resources based on demand rapidly. However, concerns about data privacy and security in a shared environment are potential drawbacks.

Private clouds, on the other hand, are dedicated to a single organization, providing a more controlled and secure environment. They offer greater customization and are often preferred by businesses with strict regulatory compliance requirements or those needing advanced security features. The disadvantages include higher costs due to the need for companies to purchase, manage, and maintain their infrastructure, and potentially less scalability compared to public clouds.

Deciding which cloud model is better depends on the specific needs and priorities of a business. Public clouds are generally better suited for companies looking for cost efficiency, scalability, and flexibility without significant capital expenditures. Private clouds are ideal for organizations requiring stringent security measures, greater control over their environment, or those with predictable, consistent resource demand. Hybrid models, combining elements of both public and private clouds, offer a middle ground, providing the flexibility to choose the most appropriate environment for different workloads and data types.

Public Clouds in Hybrid Environments

A hybrid cloud is an integrated cloud service utilizing both private and public clouds to perform distinct functions within the same organization. This model offers businesses the flexibility to move workloads between cloud solutions as needs and costs fluctuate, providing a balance between the scalability and cost-effectiveness of public clouds with the control and security of private clouds.

Integrating public cloud services with private cloud or on-premises infrastructure allows organizations to leverage the best of both worlds. For example, a company can use a public cloud for high-demand, scalable applications or for deploying new applications quickly, while keeping sensitive operations, such as data storage or legacy applications, in a private cloud or on-premises due to regulatory, policy, or security considerations.

The benefits of a hybrid cloud setup include enhanced flexibility and operational efficiency, allowing businesses to scale resources on demand without significant capital expenditure. It also provides improved data privacy and security measures, as sensitive data can be kept on a private cloud or on-premises, while still enjoying the innovation and agility offered by public cloud services.

However, hybrid cloud environments come with their own set of challenges. These include the complexity of managing multiple cloud environments, the need for robust security measures across all platforms, and potential issues with data and application portability. Successfully navigating these challenges requires a strategic approach to cloud integration and the adoption of comprehensive management tools to ensure a seamless, secure, and efficient hybrid cloud environment.

Public Cloud Security

Security within public cloud services is a paramount concern for businesses and individuals alike, given the shared nature of the resources and the vast amounts of data processed and stored. Providers of public cloud services invest heavily in implementing robust security measures to protect their infrastructure and clients’ data from unauthorized access, breaches, and other cyber threats. This comprehensive security framework typically includes physical security measures at data centers, network security protocols, encryption of data in transit and at rest, and identity and access management (IAM) systems.

One key aspect of public cloud security is the shared responsibility model, which delineates the security obligations of the cloud provider and the customer. While the provider is responsible for securing the infrastructure and platform, customers must manage the security of their applications and data. This includes configuring access controls, monitoring activity for suspicious behavior, and ensuring that data is encrypted and backed up.

Moreover, public cloud services often comply with a wide range of international and industry-specific security standards and regulations, such as GDPR for data protection in Europe, HIPAA for healthcare data in the United States, and ISO 27001 for information security management. Compliance with these standards demonstrates a provider’s commitment to maintaining high levels of security and data protection.

Despite the robust security measures in place, customers must remain vigilant and proactive in managing their portion of the security responsibility. This includes regularly reviewing access permissions, using multi-factor authentication, and employing end-to-end encryption for sensitive data. By understanding and actively participating in the security processes, businesses can leverage the power of public cloud computing while minimizing risks to their data and applications.

How Can SUSE Help?

SUSE, a global leader in open source and cloud-native infrastructure management software, offers a comprehensive suite of cloud services and solutions designed to empower businesses in their transition to public and hybrid cloud environments. SUSE’s cloud solutions are built on the principles of flexibility, scalability, and security, providing enterprises with the tools they need to innovate and grow in the digital landscape. By leveraging SUSE’s expertise, businesses can seamlessly integrate their on-premises infrastructure with public cloud services, ensuring a smooth, secure, and efficient hybrid cloud setup.

The benefits of using SUSE for public and hybrid cloud environments include enhanced operational efficiency, reduced costs, and improved security compliance. SUSE solutions are engineered to support a wide range of workloads and applications, offering businesses the agility to adapt to market demands rapidly.

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Ken Lee Ken Lee is Vice President of Global Product & Solution Marketing at SUSE. He oversees product marketing, technical marketing, community marketing, and solution marketing across the entire SUSE product and solutions portfolio, which includes Business Critical Linux, Kubernetes/Container Management, Container Security, and Edge solutions. Ken has over 20 years of product marketing and go-to-market experience, with previous leadership roles at VMware, Amazon Web Services, Dell Technologies, ServiceNow, and Oracle.