When deciding to make the switch to cloud-based IT systems, considering the pros and cons of private vs public cloud configurations is an important step in the planning process. Both options have data storage capabilities and the ability to run applications. Both can be accessed remotely. So, what are these two cloud options all about and what are the factors businesses need to consider when choosing?
A public cloud is just as the name suggests. It’s a public storage facility available over the internet through a browser. The hardware that runs the cloud does not belong to the business. It is owned and run by third parties like Microsoft or Amazon. Microsoft leases private space on their public clouds. They spend billions in security to keep their clouds secure.
There are certain software services, such as Microsoft 365, Azure and SharePoint, that give businesses the power to create their own digital infrastructure that can be accessed from anywhere around the world on public clouds. From creating, editing and sharing documents, to team collaboration, to running of databases and associated applications, a public cloud removes the burden of managing hardware or software, as it is all done by the third-party provider. Management of the workload, configuration of a public cloud can be outsourced to a managed service provider.
Public clouds are:
Reliable: Third party providers like Microsoft have many servers around the world hosting their public clouds so if one happens to run into problems, resources from other servers can be re-allocated.
Pay for what you use: There is no need to spend money to purchase hardware and software to run a public cloud, instead businesses are only charged for what they use. What this means is that if a business needs to scale up during a busy period and then scale down later on, they can do so and only pay for the resources they need.
Private clouds are just that, they are private, meaning that they are privately owned and operated on a private network. They can physically be located on-premises or outsourced to a managed service provider who can also manage a business’s entire IT infrastructure, end-to-end. Private clouds also have the ability to be accessed remotely but they are part of the company network.
Private clouds allow businesses to have complete control over their IT infrastructure. They must purchase the hardware to run the cloud, and they manage all the software that runs within it. Or they might already have the hardware needed, and all they need to do is to reconfigure it to function like a cloud service.
They can still have access to software services such as Microsoft Azure, which has an on-premises offering, but ultimately it is the business that is responsible for keeping the operating system, hardware and software up-to-date and secure.
Private clouds can sit behind a company firewall so that digital assets are secured by the business’s own security policy. Private clouds are more appealing to larger organisations who have larger IT teams and have the ability to manage and secure a private cloud. However, businesses can also access the skills required to manage a private cloud by outsourcing to a managed service provider.
Private clouds offer:
More control: businesses own the entire IT infrastructure and environment so they are not at the whim of third-party cloud companies who can make changes to the environment without consulting with their clients.
Peace of mind: businesses know where the data is physically located. This may be required for compliance and governance reasons also.
Scalability: while it requires more resources to scale up or down, a private cloud is still more scalable than in-house system solutions.
A hybrid model is also available for businesses who want to take advantage of both private and public cloud options.
There is no one-size-fits all solution, businesses will have to do their own cost-benefit analysis based on their current infrastructure taking into account their plans for future growth. Managed service providers can help with this.