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The type of deployment model referred to as the public cloud is where the cloud computing service is owned by a provider (Microsoft) offering the highest level of efficiency in a shared but secure environment. In cloud computing-speak, the firm using the service is referred to as a tenant in a public cloud.

For organizations where a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work, two other deployment models for cloud computing are available: private clouds and hybrid clouds (shown).

Cloud computing deployment models.

A private cloud typically is dedicated to one organization on its own highly secure, private network over a company intranet or hosted datacenter. Unlike the public cloud, a private cloud doesn't share resources with other tenants. Industries with privacy concerns such as financial institutions and healthcare organizations typically opt for a private cloud.

A hybrid cloud is simply a combination of the public and private clouds. As an example, an organization may run their email applications in a public cloud but store customer information in a database in a private cloud.

Regardless of the deployment model used, cloud computing means that your business applications are outsourced somewhere on the Internet where you don't have to worry about paying for capacity you don't need or needing—in a hurry—capacity you don't have. It also means that the version of the software you're using is always the latest version; it's accessible anytime, anywhere, on most devices.

The advantages of cloud computing aren't limited to just big companies. Cloud computing is also beneficial for small- and medium-size organizations, and even solo-preneurs like consultants. Cloud computing is the greatest equalizer for businesses not just in America, but throughout the world. It breaks down the barriers for small and even one-man-show businesses from competing in the global market. For a small monthly fee, any business can have the appearance of a large enterprise with a full staff of highly trained IT personnel.

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