Private vs public cloud

Differences between private and public cloud

Nowadays, it’s tough to find any enterprise that doesn’t agree with the cloud being a core element of their technology strategy. With the explosion of DevOps and continuous delivery, cloud services such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure has risen in popularity. However, there are many types of cloud computing. You need to understand the differences in order to make the best decisions for your company. Outlined below are some of the differences between the two main ways the cloud manifests itself: the private and the public cloud.

What is the cloud?

At its core, the cloud physically consists of millions of servers distributed across multiple, very large datacenters strategically located all over the world. All cloud providers use custom-designed server hardware that is focused on reducing cost, improving environment footprint, and, of course, providing the greatest compute capability.

This allows for multiple benefits, such as:

  • More flexibility with easy scaling
  • Automatic software updates
  • Increased collaboration and easy document handling
  • Minimized environmental impact

In short, cloud is quickly becoming the norm.

The private cloud

Many confuse the private cloud with the same, old, traditional on-premises datacenter. The fact is that these two are quite different. With traditional on-prem datacenters, operations take care of hardware updates and each year the servers most likely act differently than last year. In addition, the IT department traditionally maintain both hardware and software – all in contradiction with the on-demand computing idea that fuels the cloud.

The private cloud, on the other hand, consists of technologies specific to the cloud model hosted in an on-premises datacenter. This hardware then run identical system software, essentially making it a cloud that belongs to you. This type of cloud computing is useful because they can implement a technology stack consistent with the public cloud. When the data or application cannot be moved off premises, this type of solution might be necessary.

However, there are some drawbacks to the private cloud. For one, they do not cut costs as much as the public cloud can, simply because of maintenance and operations. It also becomes more of a hassle to scale up or down.

The public cloud

The public cloud is the most common way of utilizing the cloud. This type of cloud is often managed by large technology companies such as Amazon, Google or Microsoft. These then sell computing, storage and software on a rental basis. The datacenters used are spread out all over the world and consists of literally millions of servers available for use, making it reachable everywhere in the world. Customers then purchase usage of application that already exist in the cloud or upload their own.

The main difference between public and private clouds is that you aren’t responsible for any of the management of a public cloud hosting solution. Here, your data and application is stored in the provider’s data center. The provider is then responsible for the management and maintenance of this data center. This type of cloud environment is useful, as it reduces lead times in testing and deploying new products. However, the drawback is that many companies feel security could be lacking with a public cloud. Despite not controlling the security, your data remains separate from others and security breaches of public clouds are rare.

The hybrid cloud

Another and more upcoming strategy to utilize the cloud is called hybrid cloud. Sometimes, companies wants to keep some of their applications and data on-premises, while moving others to the public cloud. This creates a hybrid situation that uses both a private and a public cloud, running all of these applications as if they were still local and on the same network.

Most enterprises have a hybrid cloud at some point, often as a transition before they move all their applications and data to the public cloud. To connect the two environments in a safe way, there are many solutions. For example, you can use VPN’s that make the cloud applications appear to be on the same network. Another option is to buy a dedicated connection and link the two datacenters.


Have you adopted a cloud strategy yet? Are you thinking of private, public or a hybrid solution? Let us know in the comments below!


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