Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud: Which is the Best for You?

By Lisa Gecko

Cloud computing has quickly become one of the most popular computing models for organizations throughout the world. The 24/7 availability, efficiency and affordability of virtual server infrastructure, the familiarity of a web-based interface, and the almost infinite scalability of a cloud-based architecture has contributed significantly to its speedy adoption. But even with its numerous benefits, many organizations still have many questions about cloud computing and how it could best meet their specific needs. One of the most important questions organizations should ask is which kind of cloud is best for them. There are essentially two types of clouds: Public and Private. A third type known as a Hybrid Cloud is simply a combination of the two. Let’s take a closer look.

A Public Cloud, also known as a Shared Cloud, is one in which virtual computing services are provided publicly over the Internet with little to no control over access or the underlying infrastructure. Benefits of a public cloud are the reduced complexity in software, hardware, and administration, and the lack of delays and expense associated with developing in-house applications. And a public cloud’s resources are shared across the Web, and this means an organization does not have to manage or administrate the underlying architecture that supports the cloud. As computing needs change for an organization, a public cloud can be scaled up.

A Private Cloud (also called an Internal Cloud or Enterprise Cloud) offers virtual computing services deployed over a company’s private intranet or hosted datacenter. This is a controlled-access application or network that offers an in-house computing solution where resources are purchased, installed, and maintained on site. With a private cloud, performance limits are determined by the computing capacity of the in-house hardware and software, and an organization must allocate additional resources for cloud computing upgrades. Whereas public cloud resources can be scaled instantly, a private cloud requires hardware and software upgrades to be purchased and installed on-site.

A Hybrid Cloud is an integrated approach that attempts to combine the best features of both public and private clouds. With a hybrid cloud, you can customize rules and policies that govern areas such as access and security, as well as the underlying infrastructure. And administrators can choose to allocate activities and tasks to internal or external clouds as required.

Which cloud is right for you? That may depend on your service needs. There are three main service types. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a model that consists of an end user accessing a remote computing service over the Internet. Examples of this include an outsourced email service or a hosted data center.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is best suited to organizations with developers who wish to deploy applications in the cloud without the need to manage or administer the underlying server infrastructure. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is a service model that allows developers almost complete management and administration of the cloud’s underlying server infrastructure including, but not limited to, deploying back-office applications within the cloud.

Remember, with cloud computing the options are endless. Many organizations choose to start with a single cloud-based application and go from there.