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In my session “Real World SharePoint for the Cloud” I spend some time helping those who attend to understand the key characteristics of the Cloud.

Last time out we looked at a core definition of what “the Cloud” is, this time I want to take a look at Cloud delivery models.

Delivery models for the Cloud are actually simpler than many think. In fact, looking at things simply, there really are only 3 delivery models:

  • private
  • public
  • hybrid

There are many other “definitions” of “delivery models” that blur these definitions (Campus Cloud, Metro Cloud, etc.) but ostensibly they can all be (perhaps with a little wiggling) defined within one of the 3 models listed above.

Private Clouds are Cloud platforms that are unique to an organisation, or (when stretching the definition) restrcited to a geography or purpose. Larger (and wealthier) organisations that are adopting the Cloud are increasingly deploying service and application platforms that exhibit the characteristics of “Cloud” for their own dedicated, private use – thus deploying Private Cloud infrastructure. If this infrastructure is extended to (for instance) an educational campus (that may be made up of numerous organisations) or a commercial campus (such as a large shopping mall or business park) then the Campus Cloud / Metro Cloud moniker of Private Cloud can be reasonably used.

SharePoint can be delivered very effectively in Private Cloud scenarios, regardless of of physical ownership or location of the Cloud serving infrastructure.

Public Clouds are those built for the purpose of providing services or applications to anybody that wishes to consume them regardless of purpose or geography. Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms are usually good examples of Public Clouds, exhibiting the characteristics of Cloud with services or applications targeted at the masses. SalesForce and Office365 are both good examples of Public Cloud offerings delivering SaaS and Azure is a good example of Public Cloud delivering PaaS (Platform as a Service) or IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) dependant on how you consume it.

To date, SharePoint delivered via Public Clouds has been spotty at best, Office365 is currently the leader in this space and although not delivering feature parity with an on-premises (or Private Cloud) deployment it’s still a pretty good offering.

(On a sidebar, see a later post in this supporting material series for more information on “… as a Service” and my viewpoint on the every increasing number of acronyms!)

Hybrid Clouds in a pure sense are reasonably uncommon. Hybrid Clouds blend Private and Public Cloud delivery models to enable organisations to consume services. A good example would be an organisation that uses Office365 Public Cloud with privately stood-up Active Directory or Exchange elements. Strictly speaking this would only be Hybrid Cloud if the private elements were delivered from within a Private Cloud, but hey, let’s not stand on too much ceremony.

In my view, generally when most people discuss “Hybrid Cloud” they are usually talking about “Hybrid Applications” or “Hybrid Services” where (for instance) SaaS is consumed for tactical reasons alongside traditional Enterprise IT Operations (such as on-premises SharePoint or Exchange) and I like to this of this as a consumption model as opposed to a devliery model.

When delivered in a true Hybrid Cloud model, SharePoint can provide all of the functionality and sophistication of Private Cloud to those that need it, and all of the convenience of Public Cloud to those that don’t need the sophistication and feature set of Private Cloud delivered SharePoint.

Lot’s of organisations use SharePoint in a Hybrid Application/Service way making use of (for instance) on-premises farms for internal collaboration and process management and Office365 for external usage (such as client or partner collaboration) coupling the two envrironments through Active Directory federation or more sophisticated integration methods.

more to follow…