Cloud technology has compelling benefits for businesses compared to traditional on-premise information systems.
They include lower costs, better accessibility, and enhanced scalability for critical business processes.
But not all cloud options are the same and businesses need to choose between private and public cloud environments.
Public vs private cloud: which one is better?
Public cloud services bring security and privacy concerns for many industries.
Exposure to the internet can present too much risk for applications that are mission-critical or handle highly sensitive data.
Those concerns are met today with private cloud services that leverage the same cloud technologies without exposing your sensitive data and critical applications to the internet.
This new option can solve problems that stopped many businesses from adopting cloud services in the past.
For other businesses, though, it can be less clear whether public or private cloud would make better sense for their needs.
In this article, we'll explain seven key differences between private and public cloud solutions.
1. The costs
The most dramatic difference between private and public cloud solutions is the cost structure of each option.
- A private cloud is essentially an internal data center designed to operate as part of your corporate network. That means the upfront costs are high.
You'll need to build the physical infrastructure as well as hire the staff to maintain it; it's a significant investment.
- Public cloud services have low upfront costs. You only pay for the resources you need at any given moment, and you can scale up or down at any time.
With the pay-as-you-go model, you only pay for the server time that you use each minute so it's an efficient way to manage IT resources because there are no infrastructure costs to you.
2. The security aspect
Security is another major difference between public and private cloud applications.
Many companies that opt for a private cloud solution are willing to absorb its higher cost in favor of better security and privacy.
A private cloud service isn't exposed to cyberattacks from the internet, and it can be securely separated from unauthorized internal network access as well. The result is better security for your employees and customers.
The public cloud, by contrast, is accessible to anyone on the internet. While there are sophisticated security services that can make a data breach or denial of service less likely, they can't offer guarantees that an incident won't happen.
You'll also need to trust a third-party cloud service provider to manage the security risks appropriately.
When it comes to scalability, the public cloud is more flexible than a private cloud solution. That's because most public cloud services have ample infrastructure built to serve customers of any size.
They also use virtualization technology that efficiently balances the load that each customer places on their data center resources.
The result is the ability to scale the processing, bandwidth, and storage resources up and down at any time. You can create servers for temporary use and then cancel them after a task is complete.
A private cloud's physical infrastructure is owned by your company. You'll need to plan your capacity carefully, building out only as much as you'll need at maximum demand.
Assuming you have enough capacity, you can have the same ability to scale up and down the resources assigned to each project on a private cloud.
4. The infrastructure model
A public cloud service typically serves many customers at the same time. Large cloud providers like Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure manage services for thousands of customers.
Depending on your terms of service, your data and applications may reside on the same server as other customers, or may be hosted on dedicated servers.
A private cloud is dedicated to a single customer, which is usually the company that owns it. As a result, a private cloud's resources and capacity are fully available.
The only balancing that may need to take place is between individual applications, projects, or local teams within your organization.
The result is a better overall performance.
However, the costs for that performance are significantly higher.
But there are other options out there besides public or private cloud; hybrid cloud is a rather popular pick too.
5. Application requirements
Public and private clouds serve different requirements better due to the nature of their infrastructure and cost models.
For example, a public cloud solution can deliver highly scalable hosting at a lower pay-as-you-go price per minute.
If you're only concerned with having the capacity available and aren't concerned with where your software or data reside, a public cloud service will be a good fit.
Private clouds excel at better performance, customization, and security.
When one or more of these concerns become a priority, then a private cloud may deliver a better solution than a public cloud service.
Private clouds can deliver better performance than a typical public cloud option for a couple of reasons.
The first is that you can connect to a private cloud through a dedicated network connection that typically has better reliability and throughput than the internet.
Private cloud hosting is on dedicated servers that you can control directly. You can also choose the hardware and servers you use.
A public cloud service also has good performance, but it will be less reliable than a private cloud.
You won't have control over factors like network congestion and peak demand from other customers that may impact its responsiveness for your own applications.
7. Long-term support
With a private cloud, support and maintenance are provided by your own IT support staff.
If it's important that you have quick access to support when problems arise, a private cloud will give you that accessibility.
On the other hand, a private cloud also entails organizing and paying for the maintenance of its infrastructure directly.
Choose what works best
A public cloud service represents the outsourcing of infrastructure maintenance and support.
You'll save money in the long-term with a public cloud solution because you won't need to invest in new hardware or pay for repairs, nor will you have support staff on your payroll.
The drawback is that support will be slower and more difficult because you'll need to coordinate with the remote support staff at the public cloud service provider.