Understanding the cloud – do you know your public from your hybrid?

Steve Newton

We take a whistlestop tour of the different approaches that can be taken to delivering business software via the cloud – public, private and hybrid, together with a review of the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Understanding the cloud – do you know your public from your hybrid?
Understanding the cloud – do you know your public from your hybrid?

Dictation software in all its guises is increasingly delivered via the cloud. For example, a recent report entitled ‘Medical Transcription Software: Europe Market Analysis, Insights and Forecast, 2022-2029’ revealed that 77.5% of transcription services now used in the healthcare industry are cloud-based.

Such figures reinforce the need for both current and prospective users of dictation systems to fully understand the different types of cloud computing types available, so that they can make an informed choice should they wish to migrate to the cloud.

Cloud types

Essentially there are three commonly used types of cloud computing, these being:

  • Public cloud – owned and operated by third-party cloud service providers who handle and control all the hardware, software and the general infrastructure, making their services available to anyone who wants to use or purchase them.
  • Private cloud – here the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network and are used exclusively by a single business or organisation, providing a higher level of control and ensuring that no one from the outside can access the resources.
  • Hybrid cloud – combines public and private clouds that enable data and applications to be shared between them, allowing an organisation to put its confidential and sensitive data on a highly secure private cloud, with everything else placed on the more economical and scalable public cloud.

The choices can be confusing, so here are some of the most significant pros and cons of each approach to help you decide on what might be the most appropriate solution for your organisation.

Public cloud pros

  • Lower cost: One of the main advantages of using a third-party public cloud provider is that you do not need to invest in your own infrastructure or manage services internally as the provider handles the deployment and maintenance of the infrastructure. Furthermore, the pricing structure is flexible so that you only pay for the resources you actually use.
  • Scalability: You can hire extra server space and services in the public cloud when you need them, which provides flexibility and scalability when it comes to meeting your future business requirements. This can help to ensure the solution is able to meet your needs as your business grows, or simply help you to address seasonal trends or any other unexpected surges in demand.
  • Disaster recovery: Disaster recovery measures are part and parcel of the offerings from a public cloud service, meaning that your data is stored and backed-up on an external server. This can be invaluable in situations such as system crashes or where you are the victim of a cybersecurity breach.

Public cloud cons

  • Security concerns: Public clouds are sometimes considered as being less secure than a private cloud solution. The fact that the customer’s data is stored outside of their control by a company they do not control can be a cause of concern for some organisations (particularly those that have to demonstrate compliance with particular regulations). The truth is that most public cloud providers today offer very high standards of security. Here is it important to make sure that the public cloud is using an accredited and well-established hosting provider who takes security seriously, such as Microsoft Azure, which is being used by government bodies, legal and financial institutions across the world.

Private cloud pros

  • Full control: One advantage of using a private cloud infrastructure is since everything is located in-house, the organisation has complete control over the system and is able to customise the private cloud to meet any specific business needs and requirements.
  • Enhanced security: A private cloud offers dedicated and secure environments that cannot be accessed by other organisations, with internal security staff providing full control.
  • Compliance: Since an organisation has more control when using a private cloud, it is easier to adapt its systems to current compliance requirements. It is for this reason that private clouds are often used by government departments, financial institutions and other businesses in heavily regulated industries.

Private cloud cons

  • A more expensive option: An organisation will typically pay more for a private cloud system than for any other option because it will have to maintain the entire system on its own, with all of the extra resources in terms of hardware, software and staff that this necessitates.
  • Lack of external support: Following on from the above point, the private cloud user organisation will need to be self-sufficient in terms of ensuring that the latest security updates and patches are applied, the most recent versions of software are installed and that adequate disaster recovery back-up systems are in place. This will obviously require high levels of in-house IT expertise.

Hybrid cloud pros

  • Cheaper than private cloud: A hybrid cloud solution is less expensive than buying and maintaining servers on your premises for absolutely all your data. Instead, public and private clouds split the workload, with the private cloud handling sensitive operations and the cheaper public cloud catering for the more resource-intensive but less confidential processes.
  • Greater control: A hybrid cloud infrastructure gives you greater control over security than the public cloud since you can enforce high-security standards where required. You can also reconfigure software the way you want it on private servers.
  • Reliability: Many organisations find that distributing their business processes across different public and private data centres provides them with higher levels of reliability as they are better able to handle system problems that may occur in any one particular area.

Hybrid cloud cons

  • More maintenance than public cloud: Being a mix of two solutions means there will inevitably be greater complication than simply using a public cloud, as there will be a requirement to monitor and manage multiple platforms to ensure they are all working together seamlessly.
  • Compatibility issues: Tied into the above point, it is important to ensure that the private cloud infrastructure is compatible with its public cloud counterpart since any problems can result in interoperability and workflow issues.

Making the right decision

For many businesses the public cloud approach will meet all of their requirements adequately. It is the most cost-effective solution and cloud service providers take responsibility for all maintenance, software upgrade and disaster recovery activities. The most important aspect is that a trusted partner is selected, who takes privacy matters seriously and uses a secure hosting provider.

Learn more about SpeechLive’s security and privacy