02.05.20165 min read

The Pros and Cons of Public and Private Clouds

When using the public cloud, the services provided are offered to multiple clients who all share the same infrastructure. Some of the most common real world examples of public cloud services include services like cloud-based server hosting, storage services, webmail and online office applications.

For example, well-known public storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive. Public cloud services are, for the most part, intended for use by those individuals who do not really require high levels of infrastructure or security. That is not to say that the small business user cannot make use of public cloud services, in fact, many will utilize these services to make their day to day operations more efficient.

Benefits of choosing a public cloud

One of the main benefits that come with using public cloud services is near-unlimited scalability. The resources are pretty much offered 'on demand' so any changes in activity level can be handled very easily. This, in turn, brings with it cost-effectiveness. Thanks to the pooling of a large number of resources, users are benefiting from the savings of large scale operations. There are many services, like Google Drive, which are offered for free.

Finally, the vast network of servers involved in public cloud services means that it can benefit from greater reliability. Even if one data center was to fail entirely, the network simply redistributes the load among the remaining enters making it highly unlikely that the public cloud would ever fail. In summary, the benefits of the public cloud are:

  •  Easy scalability
  •  Cost effectiveness
  •  Increased reliability

Disadvantages of choosing a public cloud

There are, of course, downsides to using public cloud services. At the top of the list is the fact that the security of data held within a public cloud is a cause for concern. It is often seen as an advantage that the public cloud has no geographical restrictions making access easy from wherever you are, but on the flip side, this could mean that your server is in a different country which is governed by an entirely different set of security and/or privacy regulations.

This could mean that your data is not all that secure making it unwise to use public cloud services for sensitive data.

Pros and cons of a private cloud

The main difference with a private cloud is that it is a secure service accessible only be one client. It works on the same principles as a public cloud, but with only you (or your organization) having access.

Benefits of choosing a private cloud

The main benefit of choosing a private cloud is the greater level of security offered making it ideal for business users who need to store and/or process sensitive data. A good example is a company dealing with financial information such as bank or lender who are required by law to use secure internal storage to store consumer information. With a private cloud this can be achieved while still allowing the organization to benefit from cloud computing.

Private cloud services also offer some other benefits for business users including more control over the server allowing it to be tailored to your own preferences and in-house styles. While this can remove some of the scalability options, private cloud providers often offer what is known as 'cloud bursting' which is when non-sensitive data is switched to a public cloud to free up private cloud space in the event of a significant spike in demand until such times as the private cloud can be expanded. In summary, the main benefits of the private cloud are:

  • Improved security
  • Greater control over the server
  • Flexibility in the form of Cloud Bursting

Disadvantages of choosing a private cloud

The downsides of private cloud services include a higher initial outlay, although in the long term many business owners find that this balances out and actual becomes more cost effective than public cloud use. It is also more difficult to access the data held in a private cloud from remote locations due to the increased security measures.

In conclusion, the initial cost of setting up private cloud services may prove to be cost-prohibitive for a small business owner, although with long term use this soon evens out. It really depends on the nature of the business when deciding whether the additional cost is worthwhile. The main difference between public and private cloud services is that data is much more secure when held in a private cloud. If this is a major concern then you will want to strongly consider private cloud services.

However, if you simply need to streamline some of your business operations then you may find that public cloud services are sufficient. 

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