How to explain private, public and hybrid cloud to your spouse

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It’s a great thing that my wife is a good sport. This series started about two years ago when I set out to explain cloud computing to my wife (Part 1 and Part 2). Now that her knowledge of the basics has grown, I wanted to branch out and try to continue to describe some of the more detailed aspects of cloud computing.

In this blog post, I’ll share my most recent attempt to explain the various cloud delivery models to my spouse.  As I’ve described before, I like to use analogies when conveying a topic that’s completely foreign to someone.  I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to see how things are related that way. I’ll stick to a transportation example, but this time, I won’t be using rental cars. In the next three points, I’ll describe the difference between a private cloud, a public cloud and a hybrid cloud.

You may not realize it, but you might have a private cloud in your garage.

Car on the bridgeIf you are like most people in the non-urban world, you likely own a vehicle. If you have two drivers in your household, you might even have two vehicles. Each of you likely drives the vehicle you need when you need it.  My wife and I each have our own vehicle, but if I need to transport something bigger, I’ll take her SUV. If I want better gas mileage, I’ll take my car. I’m able to use the right resource (a vehicle in this case) to meet the particular need I have at that time.

But what happens when you have a teenager? Do you need to buy a second or third car? Although some people would say yes, the truth is that most families would be able to address their needs just fine by sharing the existing vehicles they have. This is a great analogy to what companies do when they build a private cloud.

Companies own all of the hardware and software that runs the private cloud, just as you own the cars in your garage. Companies have different users that share this hardware so that they each don’t need to buy their own hardware, just like you share the cars that you own among all of your drivers. There may be some rare instances that you aren’t able to use a car, but as a tradeoff, you are in full control over the type of car that you own and drive. Companies that build a private cloud have this same advantage.

There’s no shame in using the bus.

touring carMaybe your car is in the shop. Maybe you don’t own a car. Maybe you don’t want to own and maintain a car. Whatever the reason, some people and some companies would rather use public transportation (or a public cloud) to address their needs. You might be a little restricted by the bus schedule, but you only pay for what you use.  If you work from home and don’t need to ride the bus that day, you save the money that you would have spent.

The same thing goes for companies using a public cloud. They don’t need to buy any hardware or software up front (sometimes referred to as spending CAPEX or capital expenditure), and they just pay for what they use as they use it (OPEX or operational expenditure). For many people and companies, having a smaller recurring expense is easier to budget for than a large one-time expense.

Sometimes you need to rent a trailer.

Car trailer for transportYour car works for you most of the time, but for a big road trip you might need more space. So what do you do? You rent a trailer. It works with your existing car but gives you the added capacity you need for this temporary situation. You don’t own the trailer, but you are able to use it. This is exactly like what companies do when they build a hybrid cloud. As the name implies, this is a mix between private and public cloud. Companies do the majority of their work on hardware that they own (your car), but if they have a temporary need for more capacity, they are able to rent it from a public cloud provider (the trailer). Just like the trailer securely connects to your car’s hitch, the hybrid cloud securely connects the public cloud to your private cloud.

In the end, I think my wife may just roll her eyes at me and say “keep trying,” which I certainly will do. Do you have any other ideas on how I could explain this to her? What cloud-related topic should I try to talk to her about next? As always, let me know what you think @TalkToErik or in the comments section below.

Principal Architect - Digital Technical Engagement

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