Public, private and hybrid clouds: What’s the difference?

November 5, 2016 Cloud Strategy

The cloud has had an enormous impact on modern business. In fact, Spiceworks found that more than 90 percent of companies are using this technology in at least one part of their IT operations. Clearly, this innovation is incredibly useful. 

That said, the cloud isn't a singular service. There are multiple different kinds of cloud deployments, and each one of these has its advantages and disadvantages that organizations must be aware of before making their decision. 

To that end, let's explore each cloud type, and what companies can get out of them. 

Public cloud

The public cloud is by far one of the most popular deployments of this technology. In fact, Gartner predicted the market for this technology would hit just under $204 billion before the end of 2016. There's clearly a lot of money invested here, and for good reason. 

The biggest advantage of a public cloud platform is that the hardware is housed in a data center that is physically separated from the company paying for the service. This is huge because it allows for some major savings on the part of the buyer. 

Creating an IT infrastructure means purchasing a lot of hardware, the costs of which add up extremely quickly. On top of this, companies have to pay someone to maintain all of this equipment, which is going to demand either hiring a new employee or pulling a current worker away from important in-house projects. Moving to a public cloud alleviates all of these concerns. 

"There's something to be said here about the disaster recovery potential of the public cloud."

On top of that, there's something to be said here about the disaster recovery potential of the public cloud. Due to the fact that all of the hardware is kept outside of the office, any important data or applications will remain safe in the event of a catastrophe that destroys your facility. In fact, many disaster recovery solutions demand storing vital information in the cloud in order to avoid data loss. 

Of course, giving up maintenance and upfront costs comes at the price of losing complete control over your data. One concern certain people raise about the public cloud is that it's not designed to cater to specific security needs. This technology's success comes from pooling resources to keep costs down, which is great for the bottom line but can sometimes create cybersecurity issues. 

Companies looking for a cheaper alternative to in-house computing needs shouldn't be scared off by the security concerns. It's not that the public cloud is inherently vulnerable. Rather, there are simply more protected options out there, such as …

Private cloud

While the private cloud is a little less popular than it's public counterpart, this technology is still widely used within multiple sectors and industries. Unlike the previous option, private cloud options are very often built in-house. Even when they aren't, they are specifically designed to give users more control over how their IT infrastructure operates. 

As stated, the main advantage here is that the private cloud allows organizations to continue a hands-on relationship with their data and applications. While this can be seen in multiple areas, perhaps the most important is security. 

Each industry has its own cybersecurity regulations, and what may be permissible in one sector would be a major violation in another. Therefore, it doesn't really make sense for a company in such a trade to work in a public cloud infrastructure where their specific needs won't be met due to the sharing of resources.

That said, increased control comes at a cost. The big downside of private clouds is that they generally cost more money than a public cloud deployment. Although these solutions are very often cheaper than creating in-house solutions on your own, the fact remains that they can be a little pricey when compared to other cloud options. 

The private cloud can be a little expensive at times. Private cloud deployments often cost more money than the public cloud.

The private cloud's increased cost is a simple reality of the situation. Many organizations, such as those operating within health care and the financial industry, simply cannot allow for customer data to become public. Such a breach would cost quite a lot of money and reputation, and could even put the company out of business. In the face of such terrible possibilities, paying extra for security can be worth it. 

Hybrid cloud

Certain companies do just fine with public clouds, while others are happy sticking with private deployments. That said, a vast majority of organizations need some kind of middle ground. This is where a hybrid cloud solution comes into play. These platforms are literally a combination of public and private clouds, and a lot of institutions are seeing success with them. 

The advantages here are incredibly numerous. By combining a public and private cloud deployment, companies basically get to pick and choose what they need from their solution. The basic rule of thumb is that any sensitive data should be kept in the private cloud, while everything else can be processed via the public cloud. 

This enables a massive cost reduction because it doesn't force an organization to stick with a private cloud for all of its computing needs simply because it must ensure a high level of security for certain data. 

Due to the fact that hybrid clouds can be tailored to fit specific needs, there aren't a whole lot of disadvantages here. If any, the main one is that these deployments are a little more expensive than a public cloud. However, this extra money is put toward the security of important data in a way that's much more cost-effective than a simple private cloud infrastructure. 

In the truest sense of the phrase, the hybrid cloud allows companies to have their cake and eat it, too. By combining the best parts of both cloud deployments, this technology can create a secure environment that doesn't completely wreck an organization's budget. It's a fantastic middle ground that a lot of institutions are moving toward.