There was a time when terms like Public Cloud and Private Cloud did not exist. It was just Cloud computing, and by default it was public. But, a fundamental component of Cloud computing – multi-tenancy – created concerns about Privacy, Security, and ultimately Control, and kept many IT leaders and the enterprises they served on the sidelines. Due to these concerns, legitimate or not, they simply could not get comfortable with their data being in a public cloud. But, there were a lot of benefits to Cloud computing that enterprises could not ignore, and this led to a new approach, and a new term called “Private” clouds.
Private Cloud” was a breakthrough for Cloud adoption. To many the term “Private Cloud” is a misnomer. Cloud purists scoff at calling anything a Cloud that is not multi-tenant. (I’ll admit, I was one of those people.) But, looking back, Private Cloud was a significant moment because it went right to the heart of many enterprises’ fears of moving forward. Private cloud gave them comfortable that their data was safe, and they could not be impacted negatively (slow transaction speeds, etc.) by sharing computing resources with others. At the end of the day, it did not matter if it made sense or not. The term “Private Cloud,” single-tenancy, and more control got most all enterprises off the sidelines and realizing at least some of the benefits of cloud computing.
There were trade-offs of having a private cloud. In particular, Private was not anywhere close to being as economical as Public. This approach required a significant investment in new hardware and software. But, it still advanced the enterprise in economic terms, and flexibility. Meanwhile, public cloud offerings continued to grow, and became completely mainstream.
So, it wasn’t long before people started figuring out how to have the best of both worlds. Another term and approach to Cloud computing evolved – “Hybrid Cloud.” Hybrid meaning – a Private cloud leveraging public cloud resources. And, Hybrid might be the biggest breakthrough of all for Cloud computing.
Today, Cloud computing isn’t really debated anymore. To use a Public cloud versus Private cloud versus a Hybrid cloud is debated, but mostly on the merits and applicability to the opportunity. But more and more, the Hybrid approach is seen as the best of both worlds, and is the favored approach.
So, it is not surprising to see that there are a lot of articles debating the merits of a Public blockchain versus a Private blockchain. It is the early days of Blockchain, and it is evolving. More quickly than with Cloud computing, though, the move to provide Hybrid blockchains that offer the benefits of both public blockchain and private blockchain has occurred.
Just like with Cloud computing, a Hybrid approach is very appealing because so many enterpriseswant the benefits that blockchain can deliver without the associated risks of a public blockchain. The benefits of the private blockchain include faster transaction speeds, privacy of the data, and centralized control over access to the blockchain. Like a Private cloud versus a Public cloud, the benefits of Private come with a cost. And, just like with Cloud computing, those benefits are often worth the extra costs. Not surprisingly, though, Hybrid solutions are available that provide the best of both approaches.
Hybrid provides an enterprise-ready blockchain solution that is much better suited to highly regulated enterprises like Healthcare and governments as it enables them to have the flexibility and control over what data is kept private versus shared on a public ledger. Coupled with the operational needs of faster transaction times, security and auditability, Hybrid is a good fit for these industries.
The potential of blockchain in healthcare is immense. A blockchain-based health record owned and mediated by the individual can serve as a single shared ledger among interested parties.If individuals had control of their own medical data, smartphone applications could leverage it, link in more information, and connect individuals to services. Individuals could be paid for the use of their data, as well as for healthy behaviors, creating a real incentive towards wellness. A blockchain-based health record would make the interoperability issues that plague healthcare irrelevant.
Public, Private, Hybrid are all valid options. There is not a single right or wrong approach. Different industries, or simply different problems require different approaches. There is not a one-size-fits-all blockchain. We do not have to buy into the argument that as a rule Public is better than Private is better than Hybrid. Which approach is best depends on the use case.