Public Cloud vs Private Cloud & Which is Right for You

By this point, you’ve heard about cloud computing and the benefits it has in store for businesses. By moving your IT infrastructure and applications to the Cloud you can:

  • Easily scale up or down usage of services based on business demand
  • Enhance disaster recovery planning and security of data
  • Simplify your IT department by reducing the need for certain skill-sets required to maintain on-premise equipment

Over the last five years, cloud computing has gone mainstream with many new companies opting to be cloud native and host everything in the cloud.

For companies that have on-premise and are looking to migrate some or all their functions to the cloud there is a lot to consider. A cloud migration can be quite complex as there are many aspects to plan for when transitioning from on-premise to a cloud-based environment. A cloud assessment is a great starting point for determining readiness of your business to migrate to the cloud.

The primary point we are going to look at in this article is: Public vs Private Cloud – Which is Right for Your Business?

The difference in Public Cloud, Private Cloud, and Virtual Private Cloud is around where your data is stored, how much control and governance you have around it, and what skills you need to maintain it.

Public Cloud Considerations

Most small and mid-sized companies opt for public cloud. Public cloud hosting means storing your data in the cloud provider’s data center. This means they are responsible for managing and maintaining the data center. There is less work involved to manage a public cloud and less specialized skill sets required to maintain it. Your data is still separate from the other organizations who host with this cloud provider and security issues from the provider-side are quite rare.

Benefits of a Public Cloud

Simple to Roll Out and Maintain: A key benefit of public cloud migration is that it requires virtually no configuration to roll out and maintain.

Easier to Migrate Over To: Tools and processes exist to facilitate moving from on-premise to public cloud set-ups. Your cloud migration will still require a strategy, testing, and change management plan but considerably less work than migrating to a custom environment.

Save Time and Money: Public cloud migrations require less upfront time to set up than a private set-up and less ongoing costs as maintenance is covered by the cloud provider.

Increased Focus: Another key benefit of a public cloud environment, is allowing in-house IT to focus on the business and less on day-to-day maintenance and operations of an underlying hardware solution.

Accelerate Production Time: Public cloud environments allow you to quickly spin up test environments for new releases, do detailed testing, deploy to production and then decommission those test environments to save costs. Thus, becoming more cost effective over Private cloud.

Increased Flexibility: Pay-as-you-go plans mean you aren’t locked into long-term contracts and can add or remove users at your discretion.

Disadvantages of Public Cloud

Security is Up to the Cloud Provider: Not necessarily a bad thing, but if data security is a major concern for your organization, it is a risk to consider and cloud vendors’ security measures should be vetted thoroughly.

Loss of Control: There is limited ability to customize public cloud environments and no view into the backend infrastructure. Although this is not an issue for most businesses, it is worth considering if your business follows rigid compliance rules.

License Costs Are Up to Cloud Vendor: Pay-As-You-Go Costs licensing offers enhanced flexibility, but you are also beholden to rising rates if the cloud vendor decides in increase license costs.

Virtual Private Cloud

A Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) is a private cloud built in a virtual environment on cloud provider’s infrastructure. Think of it as carving out a section of the public cloud and building your own “private cloud” within it. This can often be achieved via a private IP subnet or Virtual Local-Area Network.

VPC is a great option for small-to-medium sized businesses (SMB) as you retain the benefits of scalability and cost savings while enhancing security by reducing the number of people who have access to the keys.

Differences between virtual private clouds and private clouds


Benefits of a Virtual Private Cloud

Infrastructure Managed by Cloud Provider: The underlying infrastructure is still hosted and managed by your cloud vendor reducing the need for setting up and managing a data centre.

Enhanced Security and Control Over Data: Virtual Private Clouds offer more granular network control restricting access to certain workspaces. You can isolate certain functions from the rest of your cloud environment.

Cost Savings and Scalability: By retaining pay-as-you-go licensing, you can add or remove users easily to scale up or down based on changes to business needs.


To Read More About Cloud Migration


Disadvantages of Virtual Private Cloud

Requires Configuration to Setup: A Virtual Private Cloud does require certain skills to be able to set up properly. This means the rollout may take longer and require contracting a resource with the appropriate expertise.

Extra Work Required to Maintain: You’ll need staff to make any modifications to the VPC set-up. As your company grows and business needs change, you’ll need to be able to make sure your VPC keeps up with evolving security and governance requirements.

Impact on Tools: When businesses “virtualize” a physical platform, it requires analyzing how network tools may be impacted. Any tool that gives you a view into traffic can be affected: traffic monitors, network IDS, and sniffers.

When discussing whether to move to public or private cloud environments, ensure you’re clear on whether it is a virtual private cloud or a true private cloud environment.

Private Cloud Considerations

A true private cloud, sometimes called an enterprise cloud, is a solution that larger companies or businesses with very sensitive data or strict business rules decide to build and maintain themselves internally. In this case, the business would build out the private cloud infrastructure themselves and retain resources with the skills to manage it rather than trust that management to a cloud provider.

Private clouds are built on a company’s intranet or data center where data is protected behind an internal firewall. This option works well for companies who already have their own data centers because they can leverage their existing infrastructure.

With a private cloud, you lose some of the benefits of cloud computing as your team still needs to build new infrastructure and maintain it, but you are shielded from external risks of a third-party cloud vendor.

Spending on private cloud solutions continues to increase with enterprises investing more each year.

Private Cloud Spending

Source: Wikibon’s 2018 True Private Cloud Forecast and Market Shares.

Benefits of a Private Cloud

Retain Full Control: With a private cloud, your company retains full control of the infrastructure and environment. Some businesses require this or place great emphasis on this aspect which makes private clouds a much more viable option than public and still more attractive than on-premise.

Centralize Infrastructure Without Reliance on a Third Party: Companies are able to centralize their existing IT infrastructure in a virtual environment while avoiding possible risks from an outside cloud vendor.

Enhanced Security and Compliance: As private clouds are customized to a single organization, they offer an increased level of security and compliance, sharing very limited, if any, resources with other parties.

Disadvantages of Private Cloud

Longer Initial Build Time: A private cloud needs to be built on internal infrastructure and requires many key skills your company may not have in-house.

Increased Upfront and Ongoing Costs: Your servers will need to be replaced eventually, which can get expensive. Your business will also require specialized staff to build and maintain the private cloud leading to increased costs from a resourcing perspective.

Underutilization: Since businesses must deploy and manage private cloud environments themselves, the number of resources you need and the work they are required to do often fluctuates. This means at times they will be overworked or have nothing to do. Other times you may lose a key cloud specialist and must quickly hire and train a replacement.

Added Complexity: Rather than just calculating your licensing cost, companies have to add resource rates, infrastructure maintenance, private cloud configuration and other costs to determine what your run rate is on a private cloud environment.

Public Cloud Risks

While data breaches and security incidents are rare from cloud providers, they do happen. Specifically, if you are using smaller cloud vendors for niche services and in terms of governance of what users can share and have access to.

For example, while Google Cloud services are quite secure from a database and cloud environment setting, if your users are leveraging Google Drive or Dropbox to share files outside of the locked down IT environment in can be difficult to ensure privacy.

When pursuing a public cloud migration, look into aspects like shared access, control over data, availability expectations, records of data breaches, and what the cloud vendor’s ownership policy is. Learn more about Public Cloud Risks.

Private vs Public Cloud: Which Cloud Migration is Right For Your Business?

It all comes down to what your business is looking to get from moving to the cloud and what your specific requirements are. If you are a smaller company with a limited IT team, a public cloud migration is a good option as it requires less time to roll out and maintain.

If your organization has specific reasons for extra layers of protection around your data, investigate a virtual private cloud set-up. That way you maintain a level of control without hosting and maintaining the entire infrastructure internally.

If your business needs to be able to retain full control over the environment and wants to reap cloud the benefits of centralized infrastructure, a private cloud environment will be required.

When you’ve decided on which direction you want to take with your cloud migration or if you need help determining if you should consider cloud migration of some type in the first place, contact us and we can help with ensuring your cloud strategy is solid, assess the cloud vendors you are choosing between, and help with your cloud migration if you don’t have the skills to complete in-house. Or if you’re having trouble deciding, we can help you land on the right set-up for your business.



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