When discussing cloud computing solutions, you will often hear references made to private and public clouds, as well as arguments over the comparative merits of each. To the cloud technology novice, this whole private cloud vs. public cloud debate can sometimes sound like it’s being argued in a foreign language. In this article, we’ll look at both private and public cloud computing solutions, explain their differences, and attempt to translate this debate over which is better into laymen’s terms.
What is Private Cloud Computing?
Simply put, private cloud computing is a type of infrastructure that is set up for a single client (generally a large business). The client has control over all of its data, including where it is stored, how and when it is transferred, and the infrastructure services that manage it. It is this heighted level of customer control that makes private cloud technology attractive to clients who are particularly concerned with security.
Advantages of Private Cloud Technology
As one might guess, greater client control equates to fewer security concerns for private cloud users. By transitioning its existing IT infrastructure over to the cloud, the customer is still able to enjoy the benefits of scalability, flexibility and higher productivity, but is able to do so without sacrificing any of the accountability for data security that can sometimes be associated with public cloud computing solutions.
Disadvantages of Private Cloud Technology
Perhaps the greatest criticism of private cloud solutions is that they still require the client to purchase, configure and manage the infrastructure. Whereas the public cloud user is able to essentially buy a cheap, ready-made service that can be implemented immediately, the private user must shell out considerable capital up front to acquire a system that will often be hosted internally, and then continue to deal with its management going forward. This, unfortunately, is the trade-off that must be made for the superior security offered by the private solution.
What are Public Cloud Computing Solutions?
As opposed to the closed nature of the private cloud, public cloud computing solutions are usually open to the public. In other words, data storage, software used, and platform utilization are all shared on the same network of servers by all of the service’s clients. The management and security of all stored data and software applications is handled by the cloud computing provider.
Advantages of Public Cloud Technology
In terms of flexibility, scalability, convenience, and cost-effectiveness, public cloud computing beats private cloud solutions every day of the week. The ability to use all services, including infrastructure, on a “pay-per-usage” basis, and be free of the headaches associated with their daily management represents what most enterprise users point to as the greatest advantage of cloud technology.
Disadvantages of Public Cloud Technology
At this time, the big knock on public cloud computing is its lack of security. That is not to say that public services do not have security – many of them have excellent measures in place – but for clients who deal in large amounts of highly-sensitive personal data (e.g. financial firms), the idea of trusting this information to a third party is often unacceptable.
Which Is Better? Private or Public Cloud Computing Solutions?
The answer to this question obviously depends on the customer’s type of business. While public cloud services would seem to have public solutions beat on most fronts, the fact that they put the accountability for protecting client’s confidentiality in the hands of a third party is not only unnerving, but may even cause legal problems in certain areas.
So, to sum up the private vs. public cloud debate, if your company is one that does not have extremely high security requirements, public cloud services will allow you to enjoy all of the advantages offered by the technology. Should your firm deal in sensitive client data, however, private cloud computing solutions can still reward you with tremendously improved flexibility, scalability and convenience, but you will wind up paying a little more in order to maintain greater security.