Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud: Pros & Cons

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Here’s a quick look at the two cloud categories as well as the advantages and disadvantages 

Chances are that you’ve heard the term ‘cloud computing’ multiple times by now. Cloud computing has a number of distinct advantages that sets it apart from the traditional on-premise setup. What many people outside the tech world may not know though is that cloud computing isn’t a monolith. There are different types of clouds with the two main categories being the public cloud and private cloud.
Neither the public cloud nor private cloud will be suitable for every single organization. Each category has pros and cons that one must take into consideration before deciding which model is best for them. If you’re hearing about the public and private clouds for the first time or if you are having difficulty identifying the one that’s right for you, here’s a quick look at the two cloud categories as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Public Cloud
As the name suggests, the public cloud is available to the wider public. Public clouds are typically operated by giant tech firms such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google. These organizations have massive data center infrastructure that is then shared between their subscribers.

Pros of the Public Cloud

Scalability – Public cloud services are easier to scale. Leading public cloud service providers like AWS and Microsoft Azure even have a provision for automatic scaling so that the client organization doesn’t have to manually ask for an upgrade.

Availability – Public clouds have better uptime metrics when compared to private clouds. Since a system outage would have far-reaching ramifications and potentially affect thousands of organizations, public cloud providers have to put in place robust redundancy mechanisms as part of their disaster recovery and business continuity plans.

Low Cost – Since public cloud providers build infrastructure that hosts thousands of clients, they can deliver economies of scale that enterprises running on a private cloud can only dream of. Routine expenses such as staffing, hardware, software, utilities and premises, that would otherwise be borne by a single organization are spread between thousands of customers.

Cons of the Public Cloud

Security – Security is arguably one of the biggest Hyperscale Public Cloud Disadvantages. Because businesses place their systems and data on hardware managed by a third party, they give up full control over their digital security. In addition, due to the scale and reach of the public cloud, it is much more prized as an attack target by hackers.

Privacy – Public cloud hardware is shared between multiple customers. Ergo, the data of tens or hundreds of organizations could be sitting on the same server. Whereas rigorous mechanisms are put in place to create virtual barriers between the different client organization’s data, there’s always a residual risk that a customer or outsider could view data they aren’t authorized to.

Pay-Per-Use Unpredictability – Pay-per-use allows public cloud users to enjoy impressively low prices to access world-class infrastructure. But bills can soar to unpredictable levels if there’s a sudden spike in application use.

Private Cloud
A private cloud is a computing infrastructure established for one customer’s exclusive use. A private cloud may be customer-owned (i.e. an organization builds and manages the data center that runs its cloud-based services) or hosted (where a vendor manages the dedicated infrastructure on the client organization’s behalf).

Pros of the Private Cloud

Privacy – Privacy is one of the most compelling reasons for going for the private cloud. Organizations have much greater assurance that only they can access the sensitive data in their possession.

Security – Private cloud means the business retains control of its infrastructure. That allows the organization to define every aspect of security to its satisfaction.

Predictable Pricing – Since the enterprise is in charge of procuring the hardware, software and infrastructure necessary to establish the private cloud, the cost is predictable. They know how much they can expect to spend over the coming months.

Customization – The organization controls the private cloud and therefore has much greater leeway in customizing the environment to its liking.

Cons of the Private Cloud

Expensive – The enterprise has to procure virtually everything and cannot share this cost with anyone else. Therefore, building a private cloud can be quite expensive, especially at the start. It’s not just the technology but also the staffing costs.

Maintenance and Support Burden – The organization is in charge of managing and running its private cloud. That means actively driving the deployment, provision, monitoring, security, and maintenance of their technology resources.

Lower Performance – Thanks to their size, public cloud providers have the resources required to establish high-performance environments. Doing the same would be extremely expensive for a single client organization using a private cloud.

Private cloud and public cloud doesn’t have to be an either-or decision. Large businesses typically comprise multiple divisions, processes, and products. A private or public cloud may not be the best option for every single process in the organization. Ergo, many enterprises are pursuing hybrid and multi-cloud strategies that harness the best of both worlds.

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