Private and public clouds are types of deployments for cloud computing. While public clouds are accessible to any company or individual who wants to use their resources, private clouds are hosted and used by only one organization.
Determining the best solution for your cloud computing needs depends largely on the size of your organization and the complexity and flexibility you need. Continue reading this guide to learn the advantages and disadvantages of each system and what types of business needs can benefit from them.
The Best Cloud Storage Services
Cloud storage is an integral part of private and public clouds. I’ve identified the following five cloud storage solutions as being among the best for various case uses:
- iDrive – Best for backups
- Microsoft OneDrive – Best for home use
- Google Drive – Best free cloud storage service
- Apple’s iCloud – Most intuitive cloud storage service
- Dropbox – Best all-around cloud storage solution
Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud High-Level Comparison
A public cloud is the kind of cloud computing infrastructure that many of us are probably most familiar with. A public cloud service offers its infrastructure to the public, allowing customers to use a portion of it for their cloud computing needs. They might purchase a monthly or annual subscription or pay for the service based on the amount of data they use.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an example of a public cloud service. It offers services like data recovery, database migration, and remote document collaboration. Companies can choose the services they need from AWS, while AWS fully hosts and manages its cloud system.
In contrast, an organization fully hosts and manages its private cloud infrastructure. This setup gives businesses complete control over the setup and maintenance of their cloud system.
And then there are hybrid clouds, like virtual private clouds (VPC). Hybrid clouds are isolated parts of a public cloud designated to an organization. AWS features a hybrid system known as Amazon VPC. Using Amazon VPC, organizations can host their own cloud system while using the AWS solutions that work for them. Google VPC is another popular option.
Products and Services Offered By Private and Public Clouds
Sending several aspects of your business to the cloud improves collaboration, security, and reliability. Both private and public clouds let you host websites, manage projects, backup data, and access your phone system in the cloud.
Although they provide similar solutions, public and private clouds differ in the way they provide those solutions. Public cloud hosts keep their services on their servers, while your organization hosts a private cloud with the services you need.
With either system, you can hold software, databases, storage, chatbots, budgeting systems, and human resource management systems in the cloud. Depending on your provider and system setup, you might also have cloud-based developer tools, threat detection, and data analytics tools.
Large organizations typically choose private clouds over public clouds simply because of their flexibility in hosting everything they need. Private clouds have virtually no limitations for scaling.
However, some businesses prefer the more hands-off approach of public cloud management and built-in maintenance. This is especially true with public cloud systems with numerous add-ons to fit businesses of all sizes.
Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud Pricing Comparison
Pricing for public and private cloud services can be difficult to compare. That’s because each type of infrastructure generally provides broad pricing ranges or custom pricing based on how many services an organization needs.
I’ll break down pricing as much as possible for public and private clouds to help you understand what to expect regarding the affordability of each. With that said, what you pay for a private or public cloud is usually a completely custom fit for your organization.
Pricing Structure of Private Cloud and Public Cloud Services
Most commonly, private and public cloud companies provide custom pricing after learning more about your business’s services and cloud infrastructure needs. You’ll generally see prices rise if you need more servers, have a complex infrastructure to set up, or require a massive amount of storage.
It can be easier to get pricing estimates on your own for public clouds using their website information or tools, like Microsoft Azure’s pricing calculator. In contrast, private clouds usually require you to request a custom quote.
Cost Comparison of Private Cloud and Public Cloud Services
In general, private clouds are priced better for large organizations with more complex cloud infrastructure needs, and public clouds are usually more affordable for smaller businesses.
Why? Most private and public cloud companies charge for bandwidth, storage, databases, and other components based on how much you need. The more you need, the lower the costs. Private cloud providers usually have the best rates on higher amounts of data, storage, and other infrastructure elements.
Private clouds are also geared toward business-controlled infrastructures. That means the cloud provider won’t need to manage or service as much, so their pricing tends to undercut public clouds. There are simply fewer tasks involved that they need to be compensated for.
However, a managed private cloud may offset the cost savings of a private cloud. Adding third-party management can easily boost private cloud pricing above public cloud costs.
According to research from 451 Research, 41% of private cloud owners said that their systems were more cost-efficient than comparable public cloud infrastructures. Many of them attributed their savings to flexible licensing arrangements, automation capabilities, and tools allowing them to plan for scaling and capacity needs.
Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud Core Criteria Comparison
I’ve reviewed some of the best cloud storage companies. Still, many companies need much more complex cloud infrastructures that handle everything from mobile app management to traffic routing. Choosing between a private and public cloud is crucial for those companies.
It’s crucial to consider how well a cloud provider handles security, maintenance, scalability, performance, usability, and integrations. Keep reading to explore how public and private clouds stack up against one another with each criterion.
Security – Private Cloud Wins
Security is probably your top concern as a business owner regarding your cloud system. Above all else, you need your documents, tools, and customer data to stay safe. Still, security shouldn’t come with interference for your team to easily access the tools and information they need to meet their responsibilities. Therefore, cloud systems should balance straightforward access to company members and highly guarded protections from anyone outside of your organization.
Private clouds tend to balance these two elements the best. Because your organization hosts the private cloud, you won’t need to be concerned with other cloud infrastructure users gaining access to it. Your team can operate and manage as much protection as you need with firewalls, VPN gateways, key vaults, and other tools, creating a fully customized solution.
Of course, optimal security begins with a well-managed private cloud. If possible, dedicate an IT specialist or team to oversee and maintain your cloud’s security. If you can’t do that, you might be better off using a public cloud provider offering ongoing security checks, updates, and critical bug fixes to keep your data safe.
Maintenance – Public Cloud Wins
Maintaining your cloud infrastructure directly relates to its ability to serve your business as needed. Maintenance for cloud systems includes security updates, bug fixes, and infrastructure upgrades to keep everything running smoothly and privately. Backup capabilities also fall under this umbrella, ensuring that all data and tools in the cloud are still accessible if anything goes wrong.
You have full control over your private cloud’s maintenance. That’s good and bad, depending on how you view it. This means that you and your team are responsible for knowing what upgrades to make, implementing those upgrades, and testing the cloud for potential problems. With a dedicated IT team, this could be a non-issue. Without one, you may need to invest more money in a managed private cloud.
A public cloud includes everything you need for regular maintenance. Your provider includes tool upgrades and necessary infrastructure updates as soon as they’re available. Many also supply scheduled maintenance for routine checks and updates. Additionally, you can typically contact a support team 24/7 if you do encounter any unforeseen issues.
Flexibility and Scalability – Private Cloud Wins
Cloud computing can easily take your business to another level, thanks to its ability to host data, software, and collaborative tools in one convenient spot accessible to appropriate team members. The flexibility and scalability of your cloud system should be a top consideration, as you want to avoid limited space, customization, and tools that you’ll need to adapt as your business grows.
Private clouds are more flexible than public clouds. Public cloud providers often lock you into using the services they partner with. Of course, many of them have vast options for data analytics, machine learning, networking, and other vendors. For example, Google Cloud features more than 150 connectable products and services.
However, you’ll always be at the whim of your public cloud provider. If it stops partnering with a specific service, you won’t be able to access that service any longer through your cloud. With a private cloud, you use the tools your team needs because you host and control your cloud.
Similarly, you can boost and scale back services on a private cloud as your business needs evolve without disrupting your current system and with more flexible pricing. If you ever feel that downsizing is what’s best for your business, your IT department can take control.
Performance and Speed – Private Cloud Wins
Cloud performance refers to its speed, uptime, and overall reliability. These are invaluable metrics for businesses that rely on their clouds to handle everything from advertising campaigns to human resource management. Without a reliable cloud, an entire business could suffer, even if temporarily.
The way your cloud infrastructure performs daily largely relies on its initial setup. As you know, a private cloud leaves room for a completely customizable setup. With a skilled IT team on deck, your cloud can have a fully optimized setup with an infrastructure that plays well with each tool and database, delivering reliable uptime and speed.
Also, private clouds tend to be faster, in general, than public clouds because they have immediate resources available, thanks to their self-service models. Private clouds also allow for the automation of resource deployment. With the right definitions in place, your infrastructure can automate the division of resources, providing quick and reliable processing.
Usability – Public Cloud Wins
When using the cloud infrastructure for daily tasks, the system must be accessible to everyone. A system with a significant learning curve and a need for heavy training may not be best for organizations with non-tech-savvy users.
For overall ease of use, public clouds have the edge. Most public cloud providers include user-friendly interfaces that even the most non-techy employees can navigate. You also don’t need an IT expert or team on hand to set up a public cloud because your provider does the legwork for you.
In fact, public cloud providers typically place the user experience as a top focus of their services. That’s why many of them include flexible or 24/7 support hours with diverse teams skilled in handling almost any issue. Additional knowledge bases, community forums, manuals, and blog articles often round out the helpful resources you can access as a public cloud subscriber.
If you already invest in an IT team, this criteria may not be as crucial for you, but smaller businesses could appreciate the public cloud’s usability.
Final Verdict — Private Cloud Wins
Cloud computing is not a new concept for most modern businesses. However, many may not be aware that they can manage their own cloud infrastructure to gain ultimate control over how it operates, what it hosts, and how accessible it is to others.
Although each business is unique, most medium to large companies can benefit from a private cloud. The more you need to include in your cloud, the more affordable it can become. Plus, a private cloud’s virtually limitless flexibility, high-end security, and reliable performance make it a clear winner for scaling businesses.