Glossary Definition: Public Cloud

What is the public cloud?

The public cloud is a type of cloud-computing environment, hosted by a third-party, where software solutions and applications are made available to organizations and individuals on the public internet.

Public cloud software can be used immediately once accessed, and the costs range from free to subscription- or usage-based. Public cloud solutions are used by multiple customers, and occasionally subscriptions can be shared between multiple people, such as “family plans” for members of a household.

Besides access to an internet connection, there are no hardware requirements needed to host the public cloud, and few if any requirements to use it. Occasionally, services may require additional hardware such as headsets for hands-free access, but generally all you need is a smartphone or other device to access it.

Moving a company’s operations into the public cloud is referred to as a public cloud migration. This is a flexible process, as organizations are able to choose whether to move all or some of their systems to the public cloud, and which ones.

What are the types of public cloud services?

There are several public cloud examples. These include:

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): This is a cloud-based, pay-as-you-go service that offers users storage solutions, co-hosted applications, network resources, and beyond to create a digital environment to host applications and data. Examples of IaaS include Google Compute Engine and Amazon Web Services. 
  • Platform as a service (PaaS): PaaS is a cloud computing platform that allows users to build tools and applications within its infrastructure. Examples of PaaS include Salesforce and Facebook. 
  • Software as a service (SaaS): SaaS is a subscription-based method of delivering software applications over the internet. Examples include Netflix and Google Workspace. (BHKS)

In addition, there are a multitude of public cloud providers. Some notable organizations include:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Google Cloud
  • IBM
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Oracle Cloud

What are other names for the public cloud?

The public cloud is sometimes also referred to as:

  • Public clouds
  • Public cloud computing
  • Public cloud platforms
  • Public cloud solutions 
  • Public cloud storage 
  • Public cloud infrastructure

Although there is overlap between the public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud, there are differences which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Public vs private cloud: What’s the difference?

The public cloud provides users with public access to software solutions and applications over the internet. The public cloud is hosted by third-party providers such as Google, and is able to be accessed by many people.

In contrast, the private cloud is an environment dedicated specifically to one customer. As such, the customer has full control over downtime, and the hardware. The entire environment is customized, and specifically dedicated to their needs.

One way to think about the difference between the public and private cloud is the architecture that supports it.

The public cloud exists in multi-tenant environments, meaning cloud infrastructure that’s been built to be shared by multiple customers. In contrast, the single-tenant environment provided by a private cloud contains infrastructure that is dedicated to just one organization.

Hybrid vs public cloud: What’s the difference?

The hybrid cloud combines the public cloud with privately stored infrastructure, services, or other types of data. This means the company uses both private clouds as well as public cloud computing solutions.

Hybrid cloud storage works by taking the data that’s been collected across various applications and environments, and delivering it to either an on-premise server or elsewhere, as determined by the IT department. In this scenario, the organization has full control over where data is stored, as well as who can access it, when it’s accessible, and so forth.

In contrast, a public cloud environment stores and maintains data solely through the public cloud. Note that IT organizations can still control access to public cloud environments; it’s just hosted on public infrastructure.

To consider this, let’s look at a common example: Gmail accounts. Most of us have Gmail accounts, but we wouldn’t if we weren’t able to control access to them. These Google accounts are all stored on the public cloud, but they come with security measures and access limitations to secure the accounts.

What is the public cloud in pharma?

The public cloud in pharma is a digital environment that allows pharma organizations to share information in real time, across sites and teams, so they can improve workflows and streamline processes.

Specific use cases vary by organization. In many cases, pharma companies take a hybrid approach to how they manage their data. This may involve having both cloud-based solutions, and on-premise data storage.

Why is the public cloud important for pharma?

The public cloud is important in pharma because it provides pharma stakeholders with a seamless way to connect and collaborate across sites and teams, while all working from the same data set.

The public cloud can help pharma companies to:

  • Transfer information
  • Manage manufacturing data
  • Maintain records

These public cloud capabilities help to improve workflows, increase efficiency, and reduce the likelihood of errors in pharmaceutical manufacturing.