Comparison Guide: Public vs Private vs Hybrid Cloud Computing Explained
Cloud computing offers a modern, secure, and cost-efficient infrastructure for the IT needs of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in South Africa.
Deciding on a foundational IT system, however, does not end by simply choosing the cloud over a traditional on-premise method. There’s one more decision to make:
What type of cloud computing is best for my business?
Cloud computing is not reserved for a single choice. Apart from the well-known public cloud, other viable options include the private cloud and hybrid cloud models. All operate on the same fundamental cloud principles. But each comes with its own unique offering that needs to be matched with what’s right for the specific technical and operational needs of your business.
In this article, we overview the private cloud, public cloud, and hybrid cloud with the small business owner in mind. Learn the key takeaways of each cloud type and weigh their pros and cons.
The Public Cloud
When most people think of cloud computing, they think public cloud.
It’s the simplest cloud implementation which involves fully offloading all data storage and computing requirements to a third-party cloud service provider. These service providers include vendors like Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM Cloud.
Public cloud services are delivered over the internet and there is minimal physical infrastructure, such as servers and networking equipment, required on your premises. Instead, the cloud vendor owns the physical infrastructure and is responsible for maintaining and managing it.
For a monthly fee, the vendor delivers the comprehensive functionality, cybersecurity, maintenance, monitoring, and upgrades/downgrade requirements for the cloud. All this takes place in global data centres where resources are pooled and shared across multiple customers of the vendor.
Advantages of the Public Cloud:
- Instant and easy scalability. It’s inexpensive, instant, and easy to upgrade or downgrade computing requirements (such as RAM or storage) based on your business needs and IT workload.
- Low capital and overhead costs. The public cloud is generally the cheapest cloud option. It allows SMBs to save on the upfront investment usually required for hardware, as well as on recurring maintenance fees.
Disadvantages of the Public Cloud:
- Data privacy concerns. Although public clouds are relatively secure, your data is always in the hands of a third party. It is not the best solution for sensitive data and industries with data compliance regulations.
- Bandwidth and performance issues. Effective performance of public cloud services is highly dependent on a fast and stable internet connection. Without it, businesses are likely to experience downtime and disruption.
The Private Cloud
The key difference between public and private cloud technology is that a private cloud has its infrastructure and resources exclusive to a single organisation.
Companies, therefore, have much more control over the specifications and management of a private cloud. With this control, a company can configure its infrastructure to meet specific business needs or objectives. For example, computing, storage, and network capacities can be adapted for added cybersecurity or handling business-critical tasks.
Notably, there are two main types of private clouds:
Internal private clouds reside on-premise at a businesses’ own data centre or server room. External private clouds are hosted off-premise at a third-party facility. Although external, it remains private because computing resources are not shared between organisations at the off-premise location.
Advantages of the Private Cloud:
- Superior performance. Private clouds offer the greatest in performance, reliability, and efficiency benefits. It also boasts better support for business continuity and disaster recovery. Internal private clouds are accessed via an intranet, which means poor internet connectivity won’t harm performance.
- Robust cybersecurity. Because resources and storage are dedicated and not shared, private clouds are the most secure type of cloud environment. This is what makes it a popular choice for public entities, medical, legal, and financial service organisations.
Disadvantages of the Private Cloud:
- Substantial investment. The financial outlay required for a private cloud is often cost-prohibitive. Along with capital costs, businesses will also need to hire specialist personnel, which comes at a high rate.
- Scalability challenges. Private clouds are not designed for large fluctuations in utilisation. Scaling, therefore, takes more time and money compared to the public cloud.
The Hybrid Cloud
The hybrid cloud combines private and public cloud technology. It allows the two cloud environments to interact seamlessly with each other, providing the advantages of both with fewer disadvantages overall.
With it, the private cloud and the public cloud of a business are linked together by technical infrastructure. This makes it possible for a business to store data and transfer computing workloads between the two environments as and when needed.
For example, sensitive data (such as customer credit card details or protectable interests) are stored locally in the more secure private cloud. Whilst non-sensitive data are saved in the relatively less-secure public cloud environment.
The hybrid cloud can also be leveraged for managing IT workloads. If there is a sudden surge in business and a spike of data needs to be processed quickly, the hybrid cloud can automatically distribute computing tasks between the private and public environments to prevent downtime, disruption, and delay.
Advantages of the Hybrid Cloud:
- Business continuity and disaster recovery. The hybrid cloud can help businesses prevent IT outages and recover quickly from downtime because services are hosted across multiple data centres. Restoring from backups are also quick and simple.
- High flexibility. The hybrid cloud makes it possible to transfer data and workloads between the two clouds on demand. If there’s a need for more CPU, RAM, or storage, it can be requested from the public cloud without burdening the physical capacity of private cloud hardware.
Disadvantages of the Hybrid Cloud:
- Added complexity. The hybrid cloud is not a simple solution. It requires a complex mix of technical and strategic tasks to manage the relationship between the environments. Without close control, critical issues and vulnerabilities are expected.
- Compatibility issues. The hybrid cloud works to combines diverse infrastructures and platforms into a single architecture. All components and vendor products need technical compatibility and coherence to avoid poor performance.
Make the Right Choice with iSite Computers
Not sure what’s best for your business?
iSite Computers is a managed IT services company in South Africa. Since 2008, we’ve been helping SMBs make the right choice between cloud computing solutions.
We assist our clients in deciding which route is best for them based on their business needs and requirements. We are not driven by sales targets which would influence our advice and recommendations. Therefore, we support all cloud options in the best interest of our clients.