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Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud: Which Is Better?

As more and more companies migrate to cloud services for data storage and computing, email, software development and testing, and other customer-facing applications, a debate has emerged. This largely one-sided argument pertains to whether using public cloud computing or private cloud computing is more effective. 

Public cloud server providers like Google, Amazon, and others saw a big leap in their cloud usage during the pandemic. As the coronavirus pushed humans farther from each other, the adoption of digital technologies skyrocketed. But cloud computing takes it to the next level, hyper-driving the rate of digital transformation among businesses who have moved to the cloud in recent years. 

But why are businesses flocking to the public cloud as opposed to private cloud servers? Many credit the plethora of resources available via public cloud servers. But often, businesses don’t need the majority of those resources, so rather than paying a premium for public benefits, they opt for the control and privacy of a private cloud. 

Others have opted for hybrid cloud servers. In this model, the public cloud handles the more resource-intensive applications while the private cloud hosts the less resource-intensive applications at a lower cost. According to research illustrated by Forbes, “over 90% of large organizations already deploy multi cloud architectures, and their data is distributed across several cloud providers.” 

Nearly 99 percent of all organizations use at least one public or private cloud, with 50 percent of workloads and 46 percent of data living in public clouds. Choosing between public and private clouds can depend greatly on the size of your company and the amount of data needed for storage among other factors. 

Hybrid Cloud Models Are Dominating 

Managing resources in-house can be timely, inefficient, and expensive. With public cloud applications comes high computing power, security, disaster recovery, agility, and storage. There also comes convenience and reliability with public cloud leaders like AWS, Azure, Microsoft and Google. But often these leading providers can be expensive, with companies not needing every tool they  offer. 

According to the Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report, 78 percent of respondents are using a hybrid cloud approach, using 2.6 public clouds and 2.7 private clouds, while also experimenting with an additional 1.1 public and 2.2 private clouds, on average.  

  • Just 2 percent of respondents claim to use private clouds exclusively 
  • 19 percent use public clouds exclusively

Why Would Private Cloud Be Preferable?

Some countries mandate data residency regulations, where data must stay within the borders of a certain region, according to Forbes. Some of the major public cloud providers can’t always make this possible, making opting for a private cloud the only logical solution. 

Also, you can experience better performance from having an in-house, on-premises private cloud, although it may cost you more money to manage. Public cloud providers handle the maintenance and management of their servers for you, which could provide some financial relief and save you time from fixing those potential errors yourself. 

With private cloud servers, you aren’t required to share resources, and can provide greater security and control against unauthorized users. Because each business has its own unique business, technical, and other requirements, the customizable nature of private clouds is often an attractive option. Using a private cloud can be convenient for your IT team and meeting their specific requirements. Government agencies, healthcare providers, and financial institutions often use private cloud options for improved privacy and control. 

Key features of private clouds: privacy, customizability, isolation, and control. 

Is Joining A Public Cloud Convenient? 

That’s up to you and your business. In a public cloud setting, consider your business as a renter using a building with other renters. The public cloud is offered to other prospective tenants to use as a subscription service as well. Like a landlord, you don’t have to do maintenance to servers, but rather the vendors do that work for you. 

Public cloud usage can be less expensive than private cloud services, as there are lesser overhead costs hardware operations and IT support. This way, the burden on your in-house IT team is less, allowing them to focus on other aspects of their jobs. 

It’s also easier to scale your storage up or down depending on your needs, though you’ll have less visibility on your data which can be unsettling. With private clouds, scaling up or down can be difficult. You can easily reach a limit where you have to purchase more hardware to manage your workload. Successful deployment in private clouds can require lots of time and hard work from IT professionals, while public cloud allows for quick and easy deployment. 

For sensitive or confidential data or information, private clouds provide a peace of mind with their high-performance security features, while public clouds are better suited for companies that treat application testing and disaster recovery as high priorities. 

Key features of public clouds: accessibility, convenience, cost-effectiveness, easy setup. 

In Conclusion

Both private and public cloud computing options are being adopted at rapid rates across the globe, usually in a hybrid setting. Businesses can find benefits in keeping some operations on their premises while allocating others that make sense to public cloud providers. This can be a difficult option and a challenge to ensure “the functionality of existing apps, operations and tools while the move to the cloud occurs, and at the same time, ensuring that all apps and data work seamlessly irrespective of where they’re located on public cloud, private cloud or on-premises” (Forbes). 

According to Forbes, the hybrid cloud role will be inevitable for the foreseeable future, as large-scale enterprises with complex IT systems take time to transition to cloud adoption. 

As public cloud adoption seems to be the dominant force moving forward, it’s important to take time to analyze and plan your cloud adoption strategy, as it may not be the most ideal option for some applications. Don’t assume it’s the right move just because it’s trendy. Analyze your cloud adoption needs and react accordingly to their demands.