Cloud computing is defined to have several deployment models, each of which has specific trade-offs for agencies which are migrating services and operations to cloud based environments. Because of the different characteristics and trade-offs of the various cloud computing deployment models, it is important the agency IT professionals have a clear understanding of their agency’s specific needs as well as how the various systems can help them meet these needs. NIST’s official definition for cloud computing outlines four cloud deployment models: private, community, public and hybrid. Let’s take a look at some of the key differences.
Private cloud. The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a single organization comprising multiple consumers (e.g., business units). It may be owned, managed, and operated by the organization, a third party, or some combination of them, and it may exist on or off premises
In general, federal agencies and departments opt for private clouds when sensitive or mission-critical information is involved. The private cloud allows for increased security, reliability, performance, and service. Yet, like other types of clouds, it maintains the ability to scale quickly and only pay for what is used when provided by a third party, making it economical as well.
One example of a private cloud deployment model that has been implemented in the federal government relatively recently was implemented by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which allows researchers to access and utilize servers on demand.
Community cloud. The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a specific community of consumers from organizations that have shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations). It may be owned, managed, and operated by one or more of the organizations in the community, a third party, or some combination of them, and it may exist on or off premises.
The community cloud deployment model is ideal and optimized for agencies or independent organizations that have shared concerns, and therefore need access to shared and mutual records and other types of stored information.
Examples might include a community dedicated to compliance considerations or a community focused on security requirements policy.
Public cloud. The general public provisions the cloud infrastructure for open use. It may be owned, managed, and operated by a business, academic, or government organization, or some combination of them. It exists on the premises of the cloud provider.
The public cloud deployment model have the unique advantage of being significantly more secure than accessing information via the Internet and tend to cost less than private clouds because services are more commoditized.
Research by the 1105 Government Information Group found that federal agencies interested in public clouds are most commonly interested in the following four functions:
One example of a public cloud deployment model based solution is the Treasury Department, which has moved its website Treasury.gov to a public cloud using Amazon’s EC2 cloud service to host the site and its applications. The site includes social media attributes, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter which allows for rapid and effective communication with constituents.
Hybrid cloud. The cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more distinct cloud deployment models (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).
Large portions of agencies that have already switched some processes over to cloud based computing solutions have utilized hybrid cloud options. Few enterprises have the ability to switch over all of their IT services at one time, the hybrid option allows for a mix of on base and cloud options which provide an easier transition.
NASA is one example of a federal agency who is utilizing the Hybrid Cloud deployment model. Its Nebula open-source cloud computing project uses a private cloud for research and development as well as a public cloud to shared datasets with external partners and the public.
The hybrid cloud computing deployment model option has also proven to be the choice option for state and local governments as well, with states like Michigan and Colorado having already declared their cloud computing intentions with plans illustrating hybrid cloud deployment models.