The Basics of Public and Private Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is more than a buzz word – it’s the way of the future. More and more companies are moving business information into the cloud, just as many individuals are using cloud solutions to store data, collaborate, and more.

One pair of terms that sometimes circulate are public versus private cloud computing. Public cloud computing almost sounds like a bad word, as though all of your data is exposed publicly. But what do these terms actually mean?

Public cloud computing is a cloud solution that is available to anyone. In other words, if you are using a public cloud hosting solution, you are outsourcing your cloud storage to a provider. Popular consumer cloud solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive are “public” cloud computing.

Private cloud computing is when a company owns their own cloud servers, connected to their own intranet and often hosted on their own site. This may seem similar to older style data centers, but the software used resembles public cloud solutions and gives a more flexible user interface. Also, the system is often better designed for off-site use.

So, which should you use? There are four main considerations:

1. Cost

Private cloud solutions are always going to be more expensive, with one notable exception. For larger companies that already have an on-site data center, converting it to modern cloud capacities can be remarkably cheap. Having your own server means you need the IT personnel to support it. It also means you are responsible for all of the maintenance needs. Subscribing to a public cloud service is generally cheaper, and you can let the provider worry about maintenance.

2. Downtime

Public cloud solutions often store your data on multiple servers. This means that if one goes down, you can still access your data. This reduces the risk of downtime and the negative effects downtime has on your business.

3. Security

Keeping all of your data in-house on your own systems is going to be more secure. Although cloud service breaches are rare, large public cloud providers are obvious targets for hackers who may be able to get access to thousands of accounts in a single breach.

4. Flexibility

If you have your own server, you have all of the capacity of that server. This may not be enough or, conversely, may at times be too much, meaning you are maintaining equipment you are not using. Public solutions, on the other hand, can allow you to change your subscription levels as your needs change, buying only the amount of storage and bandwidth you need. The downside, though, is that many public cloud providers have specific data tiers which may not suit your specific needs. For some companies, it may be worth looking into a custom service which is closer to your actual needs, or which is designed to allow for seasonal fluctuations in storage and transfer of data.

The general wisdom is that smaller companies who do not have an IT department benefit from the reduced overhead of public solutions. Larger companies, however, may already have the infrastructure to create a private cloud solution suitable for them.

What About a Hybrid Solution?

However, a growing approach is to actually use both. This is sometimes called a “hybrid” cloud solution. A company may choose, for example, to keep extremely sensitive data such as customer credit card numbers on their own servers, while running software on public cloud services. Other companies may locate data that is never accessed from remote locations on their own site, and put less secure information needed by remote workers on a smaller public “drive.”

The best solution for your company depends on your size, needs, and existing resources. Cloud solutions are definitely not going away anytime soon. With more and more people working remotely and needing to access data from multiple devices, companies that do not use some kind of cloud solution are going to be left behind. If you want to know more about the best cloud solution for your company, contact FlexManage today.