What Is Public Cloud Storage? Definition, Types, Examples, and Best Practices


Public cloud is defined as the availability of computing services by third-party providers. In a public cloud, IT resources, such as compute, storage, development platforms, applications, are available as a service over the internet. The services on public cloud are available to anyone who wants to use or purchase them. This article explains the basics of public cloud computing and lists some best practices for implementation in 2021.

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What Is Public Cloud Storage?

Public cloud is the availability of computing services by third-party providers. In a public cloud, IT resources, such as compute, storage, development platforms, applications, are available as a service over the internet. The services on public cloud are available to anyone who wants to use or purchase them.

Public cloud refers to computing services offered by third-party providers over the internet. Unlike private cloud, the services on public cloud are available to anyone who wants to use or purchase them. These services could be free or sold on-demand, where users only have to pay per usage for the CPU cycles, storage, or the bandwidth that they consume.

A public cloud is operated by a cloud service provider whose services are offered over the internet. Public clouds efficiently meet the collaborative needs of today’s global workforce by offering scalability and flexibility, and therefore, significant business value to enterprises.

Public cloud helps businesses save on purchasing, managing, and maintaining on-premises infrastructure since the cloud service provider is responsible for managing the system. They also offer scalable RAM and flexible bandwidth, making it easier for businesses to scale their storage needs. In short, public cloud is cost-effective, highly scalable, universally accessible, and offers automatic data backups. 

How a Public Cloud Functions

In a public cloud, IT resources, such as compute, storage, development platforms, applications, etc., are available as a service over the internet. These services are available on-demand on a self-service portal. With its pay-per-use model, a public cloud offers flexibility and scalability and can be accessed by multiple customers simultaneously. 

This is referred to as multi-tenancy. Public clouds are generally managed at data centers that belong to service providers. This shared model of a public cloud helps reduce costs significantly for customers.

Also Read: What Is Cloud Computing? Definition, Benefits, Types and Trends 

Types and Examples of Public Cloud Storage

Let’s look at five of the biggest public cloud players today.

1. Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services, commonly known as AWS, is a cloud services platform that offers cloud computing infrastructure, database storage, bandwidth, API support, and content delivery, along with several IaaS and PaaS services. A few notable services of AWS include Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Glacier storage, Relational Database Service (RDS), Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic Beanstalk, DynamoDB NoSQL database, and Elastic Block Store (EBS). It also offers cloud services related to networking, analytics and machine learning, the internet of things (IoT), mobile services, development, cloud management, cloud security, and more.

2. Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s public cloud computing platform that provides a wide range of services for computing, data storage, data analytics, and networking. Microsoft Azure provides PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS. The cloud platform supports different tools and frameworks (Microsoft as well as third-party systems) as well as various programming languages. Azure’s services can also be used to replace or supplement your existing on-premise servers.

3. IBM Cloud

IBM Cloud is IBM’s suite of cloud computing services that offers PaaS and IaaS. The platform is suitable for small teams and organizations as well as large enterprise businesses. Using the IBM Cloud Platform, a user can also access other IBM tools and services, such as IBM Cloud Functions and IBM Watson, along with third-party services. Developers can use the IBM Cloud platform to create, manage, run and deploy public cloud on local as well as on-premise environments. It supports various programming languages, including Java, PHP, and Python.

Also Read: What Is Cloud Storage? Definition, Types, Benefits, and Best Practices

4. Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud PlatformOpens a new window offers a range of IaaS and PaaS services, including computing, data storage, networking, developer applications and tools that run on Google hardware. Some of its offerings include Compute Engine, App Engine, Container Engine, Cloud Storage, and BigQuery. Google Cloud Platform services are accessible to software developers and cloud administrators over a dedicated network connection or the internet.

5. Oracle Cloud

Oracle Cloud is Oracle’s public cloud service offering that provides servers, storage, network, applications, and services. It provides PaaS, IaaS, SaaS as well as data as a service (DaaS). These services can be used to create, run, deploy, integrate, and extend applications. Oracle Cloud supports various programming languages, tools, databases, and frameworks.

Also Read: What Is Private Cloud Storage? Definition, Types, Examples, and Best Practices

How to Choose the Right Public Cloud Service Provider?

When choosing a public cloud service provider, an organization must consider the following aspects.

  • Uptime: You must consider the uptime that a public cloud provider offers when choosing one. An outage can lead to significant losses. Looking at a provider’s past performance for specific services may be a good idea.
  • Services offered: Each public cloud service provider offers a different range of services. When choosing a provider, make sure it aligns with your workload and business requirements.
  • Integration for existing technology: You need to ensure that the services offered by the provider offer easy integration with the technology that your business runs on. It’s a good idea to assess your mainframes and tool sets before choosing a provider.
  • Pricing: It’s crucial to consider pricing when choosing a cloud service provider. It may be difficult to calculate the exact expenses you may have to bear. However, most top players in the space offer a pricing calculator to help customers estimate expenses.
  • Security: Considered a major issue for public cloud, security is often the most important factor in choosing the right vendor. When choosing a provider, ensure that they will follow existing security measures, regulations, and compliances.

Also Read: Top 10 Cloud Computing Service Provider Companies in 2021 

Benefits and Challenges of Using Public Cloud for Enterprises

Public cloud has many advantages of a private cloud but isn’t as expensive as a private cloud. Let’s take a look at a few benefits public cloud has to offer.

Features of Public Cloud

  • Reduced cost: The public cloud has a flexible payment structure which gives you the benefit of paying only for the services you have used. Most public cloud service providers give businesses the option to pay per hour or even pay per second. This helps companies budget effectively and save the money they would otherwise have to spend on infrastructure.
  • Low maintenance: When using a public cloud, the cloud service provider maintains all the servers, hardware, and software in the cloud. They also manage aspects such as security and compliance, which allows businesses to run their infrastructure with minimal IT staff.
  • Agility: Public cloud simplifies business operations and ensures faster delivery and collaboration, allowing companies to stay agile.
  • Easy installation: A public cloud can be set up in a few hours. Easy to buy over the internet, a public cloud can be set up by an IT team without expert help.
  • Higher uptime: Most public cloud service providers assure 99% uptime, allowing companies to save on any losses that occur due to an outage. A public cloud works on multiple servers. In case one server fails, another one can immediately take over, thereby ensuring continuity of business.

Also Read: What Is Cloud Computing Security? Definition, Risks, and Security Best Practices

Even with all the advantages of a public cloud, it may be hard for some organizations to overlook the downsides of a public cloud. These include:

  • Lack of control: Public cloud gives users less control as configuration and cybersecurity are managed by the public cloud service provider.
  • Security issues: Entrusting their data and applications to a third-party cloud service provider may be difficult for some companies as the chance of a security threat is high. The fact that public cloud servers are visible from anywhere on the internet may also cause concern.
  • Compliance: With more and more legal requirements being introduced around data management, compliance may be the biggest challenge.

Although public cloud needs a different set of security considerations to mitigate any potential risks, encryption in cloud environments and other security measures can be taken to ensure data safety.

Also Read: What Is Container Security? Definition, Components, Best Practices, and Software

Top 8 Best Practices to Implement Public Cloud Storage in 2021

Now that you are familiar with the workings of public cloud storage systems let us discuss the best practices for implementation. According to Gartner’s Q320 forecast, global investments in public cloud services will grow by 18.4% in 2021, to reach a total valuation of $304.9 billion. You can maximize this investment by planning a robust public cloud strategy, keeping in mind the following best practices.

Public Cloud Storage Best Practices

1. Invest in a 360-degree security solution

One of the biggest deterrents to pervasive cloud utilization is security. Public cloud systems make use of shared resources, which means that you partake in the risk exposure experienced by other tenants hosted on those resources. Public cloud systems also undergo repeated configuration changes, and misconfigurations are among the top reasons for security loopholes. 

Thus, it is crucial to implement a 360-degree cybersecurity solution, following the same stringent protocols as you would on-premise. Defining ownership of cloud data security can be complex – for example, who’s held accountable for a customer data breach, the cloud vendor, or the company collecting the data? Security should also be made part of public cloud SLAs from the get-go. 

2. Use a cloud usage management tool

Cloud cost overruns are extremely common, and, at the same time, you might have idle resources that aren’t effectively utilized. This happens when public cloud resources aren’t provisioned correctly in tune with business requirements or when capacities are not predicted with sufficient accuracy. 

A cloud usage management tool can help address this giving you visibility into total processes active on the public cloud, real-time resource consumption, and billing. Some of the third-party tools to consider for this purpose are CloudCheckr, Densify, and CloudHealth, as well as the first-party tool by your public cloud vendors, such as Microsoft Systems Center for Azure or Amazon CloudWatch for AWS. 

Also Read: Cloud vs On-premise Comparison: Key Differences and Similarities

3. Work with a systems integrator to build out the public cloud landscape

Most public cloud solutions are easy to adopt and require very little IT effort to set up. However, complexities can creep in over time as you provision new cloud services, add more resources, deploy additional applications, and so on. It is advisable to avoid this risk of fragmentation and sprawl at the time of implementation by partnering with a systems integrator (SI). 

An SI will be able to design an end-to-end public cloud-based IT landscape, determining which workload goes where, how new components are retro-fitted with old ones, and identify the potential areas of security vulnerabilities. This is particularly crucial for large enterprises with numerous digital processes on the cloud. 

4. Create a Cloud Center of Excellence (CoE) that incorporates SaaS

A cloud CoE brings together the tools, processes, and stakeholders tasked with managing your public cloud environment. In a mid-sized to large organization, public cloud utilization is likely to be spread across different business units, multiple offices, operational regions, and subsidiaries. 

A CoE ensures that the cloud strategy does not become fragmented and there is no duplication of service utilization. Ensure that software as a service (SaaS) apps are part of the blueprint framed by the cloud CoE, as SaaS is the single fastest-growing public cloud segment in 2021-2022, as per Gartner. 

Also Read: Top 10 Cloud Data Protection Companies in 2021

5. Address internal skill gaps through remote managed services

Once a public cloud solution is in place, organizations are likely to discover skill gaps that prevent optimal utilization. For example, your public cloud vendor might offer packaged cognitive solutions. Still, you need artificial intelligence (AI) expertise among the development team to leverage this as part of a corporate chatbot project. 

Instead of hiring various cloud technology professionals, it is smarter to partner with managed service providers (MSPs). MSPs aid in value addition by introducing advanced skill sets that might be missing in-house, especially for non-digital-native organizations. They also simplify routine management by remotely optimizing configurations, monitoring cloud processes, and troubleshooting errors. 

6. Watch out for shadow (or unmapped) usage

This is particularly a risk in the SaaS segment. Employees across business units might subscribe to productivity tools without getting it ratified by a central IT team or cloud CoE. Not only does shadow IT usage add to public cloud cost overruns, but it also multiplies security risks. 

You can address this by outlining clear policies around SaaS app and cloud resource use, defining role-based access to check resource provisioning. You can also conduct a process audit that reveals the entire public cloud landscape and any entities you might have overlooked.

Also Read: Top 10 Cloud Security Challenges 2021 Needs to Address 

7. Conduct regular reviews and set process owners 

Public cloud solutions come with detailed dashboards that provide real-time and historical information on cloud resource consumption, including the use of compute, network, and storage resources. Define daily thresholds for acceptable usage with room for exceptions and peak periods. 

Companies must also conduct regular reviews, where historical data, key usage trends, and exceptional usage patterns are documented via reports. This will help you plan for the upcoming quarters. Also, by designating a process owner with specific cloud utilization KPIs, you will be able to maintain a transparent and predictable public cloud management strategy with the necessary accountability. 

8. Plan for hybrid and multi-cloud environments

Finally, even if you start your cloud journey with public cloud implementation, multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments are rapidly becoming the industry default. Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud Report found that while 97% of companies opt for public cloud, 80% also use private cloud resources. Within the public cloud, you can subscribe to a bespoke solution mix that fits the requirements of your organization. 

You can achieve hybrid and multi-cloud readiness by ensuring interoperability and portability for your apps and adopting cloud management tools and security solutions compatible with a heterogeneous environment. This will help to perfectly align available cloud resources with business processes (for example, private cloud for exchange of regulated data and public cloud for your ecommerce portal), making the most from your public cloud investments in 2021. 

Also Read: The Top 5 Cloud Computing Books to Read in 2021 Opens a new window

In conclusion

Public clouds offer significant value for businesses of all sizes across many different verticals. The unparalleled rise of SaaS-based solutions for virtually all industry verticals is mainly due to public cloud. For any techie working today, knowledge of public cloud is essential.

Did this article help you understand the basics of public cloud? What does the future hold for public cloud? Let us know on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window . We’re always listening.