Choosing between a public or private cloud depends on your organization’s needs. If you have the resources to devote to private cloud hosting, you have more capability and control over your infrastructure. However, if you can’t devote time and money to developing, managing, and monitoring your cloud infrastructure, it’s wise to outsource your cloud computing responsibilities to a third party.
This blog discusses the various differences between public and private cloud computing. Each has its benefits and drawbacks so you should choose which one fits your needs best.
There is a misconception about the cloud and most people don’t quite understand it. The cloud is not a mainframe- it is a means of providing data storage, networking, software services, and using hardware remotely. One might do well to consider cloud computing as a direct descendent of the old mainframe model, but with many more capabilities.
The cloud gives companies the ability to offload their hardware and software hosting responsibilities. They no longer have to maintain applications and databases using on-premise servers. You can access anything in the cloud from anywhere in the world so long as you have an internet connection. It provides global access while ensuring fortified security.
Public cloud environments are hosted in data centers on server space that shares space with other clouds. In other words, they aren’t restricted by firewalls that prevent outside access. And while you may have security measures in place protecting your sensitive data, the server space where your data exists is not exclusive to your endpoints.
On private clouds, your server space is your server space and you are the only one who can access your data or the server space itself. A private cloud provides both hardware and software services to specific clients and protects those clients with a firewall. Those clients share resources, but they don’t share access to data. Private clouds are often hosted on private networks.
Cloud environments fall into one of three categories:
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
Private clouds can host both SaaS and IaaS solutions but you find them more often in public clouds. Microsoft 365 is a good example- a SaaS product that customers can access via public clouds.
Microsoft 365 isn’t the only real-life example of cloud computing. Social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype, and CRMs such as Salesforce and Atlassian use cloud computing. Also, if you’ve ever watched a show on Netflix, Hulu, or Sling, you’ve used cloud computing.
The public cloud is a cloud computing model that delivers IT services from the internet. It is the most popular cloud computing model and it offers a variety of computing solutions and computing resources to address the growing needs of organizations of all sizes and industries.
Defining features for cloud computing include:
- High elasticity and scalability
- Low-cost subscription-based pricing tier
Services on the public cloud are either free or subscription-based and the computing functionality ranges from common services such as email, storage, and apps, to enterprise-level OS platforms or infrastructure environments for software development and testing.
Cloud vendors are responsible for developing, managing, and maintaining a pool of computing resources shared between multiple end-users from across a network.
The following represents a few of the advantages to cloud computing:
- No CapEx
- Technical agility
- Business focus
- Cost agility
- Lack of cost control
- Lack of security
- Minimal technical control
You have to be fully committed to a private cloud for it to pay off. You need less commitment with public clouds. They allow you to unload some of the responsibilities required, such as devoting company money to infrastructure and using resources to operate that infrastructure. If you are short of resources, public clouds make more sense.
The primary benefit of public clouds is that third parties manage them. You pay for the software and hardware you need and that’s it. Your provider handles everything from that stage forward. From maintenance to security updates, your third party will be able to perform all of your cloud operations.
The private cloud refers to any cloud solution dedicated to your organization alone. You don’t share cloud computing resources with other organizations. Your data center’s resources can either be located on-premise or operated by third parties off-site. Wherever your resources are located, you don’t share them with other organizations.
Private clouds are also customizable and they can meet the unique needs of businesses across sectors. They have greater visibility and control over the infrastructure and organizations enjoy more secure approaches over compliance issues. The compliancy IT workloads operate without compromising the infrastructure’s security and performance. This type of assurance was previously not possible unless you had a dedicated, on-premise data center.
Private clouds are better options if your data and infrastructure require multiple levels of security. When you use a private cloud, you don’t trust third parties to manage the environment. Once you take third parties out of the equation, the security increases.
If you own and operate your own data center, you would also benefit more from a private cloud than a public cloud. If you put time, money, and resources into operating your data center, you might as well host your private cloud because your company has already done much of the legwork.
Additionally, you can get more customization out of a private cloud. When you manage everything in-house, you have veto power over every decision you make. You can see everything that happens and respond accordingly.
- Highly regulated industries and government agencies.
- Sensitive data.
- Companies that require strong control and security over their IT workloads and the underlying infrastructure.
- Large enterprises that require advanced control and security over IT workloads and the underlying infrastructure.
- Organizations that can afford to invest in high performance and availability technologies
- Exclusive environments
- Custom security
- Scalability without tradeoffs
- Efficient performance
- Mobile difficulty
Neither public nor private clouds are better across the board. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and organizations must recognize both the advantages and the disadvantages to decide which is better suited for them.
Public clouds offer cost agility and scalability that private clouds can’t. Private clouds offer extensive security solutions and flexibility better suited for large enterprises and companies with extensive security needs. Additionally, hybrid clouds offer some of the benefits of both private and public clouds. Choosing between these options depends on the organization’s needs.