Public, private, and hybrid clouds: Which is right for your business?

Research shows that by 2025, 85% of enterprises will have established a cloud-first policy, primarily because cloud services reduce IT costs and enhance efficiency and flexibility.

Cloud services enhance your operations with efficiency and productivity, but you have to choose the right model

Regardless of your industry, maintaining efficiency and productivity is probably a top priority. With cloud services, your company can use your resources more effectively and accomplish more through integrated, real-time collaboration.

Investing in the right type of cloud platform for your unique needs is one of the most impactful strategies you can use to enhance workplace productivity and help your teams stay connected. We'll discuss examples of public, private, and hybrid clouds, how you can use them, and which is the right solution for your organization.

The 3 types of clouds

Consider whether the public, private, or hybrid cloud would suit your organization's needs

While you may be familiar with cloud-based services — and may have even used them on your personal devices — you may not know there are different types of clouds that provide unique benefits, uses, and scalable solutions.

Understand the differences between all cloud computing types to make an informed decision about which platform will be most effective for you and your team.

Public clouds

Third-party providers run public clouds, where other tenants share network devices and hardware through their own accounts

Public clouds tend to be the most common type of cloud computing deployment. Third-party cloud service providers (CSPs) own and operate this type of cloud by delivering servers, storage, and other cloud resources over the internet. CSPs also manage the supporting infrastructure, software, hardware, and IT mechanisms, which means your organization doesn't need to house or maintain this equipment.

In a public cloud, many organizations, known as cloud tenants, share the same network devices, storage, and hardware that allow them to access certain services over the internet. While the cloud resources are shared, each individual organization has its own secure account. Public cloud services provided by third-party CSPs are used for a range of interconnecting needs, like:

  • Acquiring storage 
  • Accessing online office applications
  • Testing and developing infrastructure environments 
  • Connecting to web-based email 

These are primary uses, but public clouds offer vast choices in terms of services, solutions, and computing resources to help your company address its ever-changing needs and scalability goals.

Public cloud solutions can also offer different pricing tiers, as well as high elasticity and scalability, making it easier for your organization to pay only for what you need and access the services you'll actually use. The CSP, or cloud vendor, manages and maintains the computing services and resources that multiple tenants share across the public network.

Private clouds 

Private clouds are reserved for one organization and can be on-site or run through a third-party provider

A private cloud is a cloud-computing infrastructure devoted to a single organization or business. Private clouds can be on-site at your organization's data center or through a third-party service provider that hosts the cloud from a remote location. The defining characteristic of a private cloud is that the services, hardware, software, and other IT resources provided are maintained within a private network reserved for one organization. 

Unlike a public cloud, businesses that use private clouds don't share resources with another organization. As a result, regulatory compliance and customization can sometimes be easier to manage, particularly when dealing with industry-specific security needs. Heavily regulated industries may choose private clouds for a higher degree of control over content and workloads. This choice can require a strong IT team and costly expenses. 

Private clouds tend to offer customizable features to help businesses operate with greater visibility into compliance-sensitive IT workloads. 

Hybrid clouds 

A hybrid cloud combines features of public and private models, often including on-premises data centers and public cloud services

A hybrid cloud combines elements of both public and private cloud environments. Hybrid clouds consist of an on-premises data center, like ones used in private clouds, with a public cloud service. This combination gives your organization access to apps and content in a way that works for your needs. Hybrid clouds may also include multi-cloud configurations, so your business can use one or more public clouds in addition to your on-premises hardware and infrastructure.

Because a hybrid cloud is a mix of public and private cloud computing environments, your organization can take advantage of the benefits and potential of each option. Hybrid clouds offer the agility and affordability of certain content storage types of public clouds and the privacy and bandwidth for running heavy computing loads of private clouds. 

Organizations use hybrid clouds to share resources offered by public and private clouds and create an integrated environment. For example, your company can use private clouds for its IT workloads and public cloud resources to accommodate spikes in network traffic. This combination increases scalability and ensures optimum performance to changing business needs and sensitive data security requirements. 

Key differences 

The cloud models differ in where they're hosted, who maintains them, and other features

Before deciding on the right type of cloud service, conduct a thorough cloud comparison to ensure your organization selects the one that will best meet your needs and goals. 

We'll summarize the differences between the public cloud versus the private cloud and the hybrid cloud. Keep in mind that many of the benefits listed below may apply to other cloud types depending on your CSP and the solutions they provide. 

Public cloud

This commonly used cloud platform serves multiple organizations and provides access to cloud services concurrently over the public internet. Public clouds are hosted by a CSP and offer on-demand, pay-as-you-go services, often on a subscription-based method. Public clouds provide agility for innovation, flexible pricing options, high scalability, and no maintenance costs. 

Private cloud 

Unlike public clouds, private clouds serve only one organization and are often designed to meet the unique use cases and infrastructure of that particular organization. Private clouds can be hosted in a remote data center or on premises. In a private cloud, organizations can benefit from high scalability as well as more secure and compliant access, efficiency, and customization. 

Hybrid cloud 

Organizations that use a hybrid cloud benefit from a platform that spans at least one public and private cloud and provides a combination of some of the services from each type. A hybrid cloud may also be a private, on-premises environment virtually connected to a public cloud. Hybrid clouds offer policy-driven deployment, flexibility, security, and workload diversity to support reliability.

Use cases

Each cloud type offers different capabilities that enable your business to maximize productivity and make the most of your cloud storage. Below, we'll review the various use cases for each type of cloud and how you can utilize them in your organization.

Public clouds

A public cloud is a deployment model where businesses can access services over the public internet. When using a public cloud service, your company doesn't need to invest in or install hardware and software. Instead, your team members can fully access these services as long as they have an internet connection. 

While some public cloud services are designed for general use, others are geared toward specific industries, workloads, or organizational needs. 

Here are some of the most popular uses of public clouds.

1. Collaboration and project management

Public clouds enable easy team collaboration in real time

Enabling easier team collaboration and project management is an important initiative in any organization. Any service or tool that helps your team members work more efficiently and keep projects organized leaves you with more time on your hands to concentrate on high-priority tasks. 

With outdated or legacy technologies that can't integrate with new, advanced software, your team may have a hard time completing projects and end up wasting valuable time and money. With a public cloud, team members can collaborate more effectively even from remote locations, making it easier to connect project participants and stakeholders with real-time updates. 

2. Data archiving 

When your organization no longer needs certain content or information but can't yet delete it, public clouds offer convenient data-archiving options. Archiving makes it easy to store historical content in a separate location for access when needed. 

Separate cloud storage means you can avoid deleting valuable content you may need in the future. You also prevent primary files from becoming disorganized or overflowing with unnecessary content. Depending on your industry, administrators may have certain standards to keep in mind when your organization begins data migration to the cloud. 

3. Sales

Manage supplier and sales information in the public cloud

Your organization can use public cloud environments to manage supplier and sales information. Public clouds provide useful services when it comes to sales management tasks like creating and maintaining records for vendors, suppliers, and distributors. 

Global companies require solutions that enable access to customer details and specific sales data within one secure location. Public clouds empower you with more visibility by providing all critical information to authorized users regardless of their location. Public clouds can also help sales processes operate more efficiently by speeding up manual processes and keeping orders organized.

4. Development and testing environment

In some industries, including research and development, public cloud deployments are beneficial for hosting, storing, and managing pre-released products. A retail or media company launching new products or services can use a public cloud platform to conduct development and testing processes in a simple, organized way. 

In a public cloud that offers all authorized users complete access, your developers, stakeholders, and relevant staff can easily view and make changes to the project and have those changes reflected in real time to the other users. This simplifies the development and deployment of products by keeping all important content in one place and allowing your organization to scale easily to meet project needs. 

Private clouds 

While many organizations use public cloud services, there are some instances where a company may prefer to use a private cloud. Let's look at how organizations can use private clouds in a variety of ways. 

1. Using specialty hardware

Organizations that need specialty hardware or applications often use the private cloud

For some organizations, it can be difficult to obtain particular infrastructure or hardware for a certain application on a public cloud. Depending on the business's needs, some workloads may require complex configurations or an operating system that is not supported by a public cloud provider. In this case, organizations may use a private cloud that can support these options and handle industry-specific software or heavily regulated data.

2. Meeting governance or regulatory requirements 

In certain organizations, like government agencies or financial institutions, collaborating securely is table stakes. These industries may opt for a private cloud to avoid security or governance issues or to ensure application and network data remain within a certain network. 

3. Avoiding network latency 

Some on-premises private cloud solutions enable faster access to apps

With some public cloud platforms that can't support remote users and accelerate integrated workflows, organizations experience latency issues. Private cloud platforms that use on-premises architecture environments bring users physically closer to their cloud network, which helps speed up access to applications. 

Hybrid clouds

While the benefits of both public and private clouds are important to understand, some organizations require a combination of cloud services to meet their unique needs. Let's look at how companies use hybrid clouds. 

1. Untested workloads

Use the hybrid cloud for new, untested workloads before launching an application in a private cloud

In some industries, businesses need to test their applications in real time before launching them to the public or internally. With a hybrid cloud, your organization can use public cloud resources for new, untested workloads before embarking on the capital expenditure it generally takes to launch a new application within a private cloud. Once your organization has tested the application, you may choose to bring it into a private cloud environment. 

Some organizations use a public cloud provider for development and testing environments while running production procedures within a private cloud. This type of application could only be possible with hybrid clouds that enable access to both public and private network services. 

2. Cloudbursting

Cloudbursting is when organizational workloads need a new configuration method or different cloud environment to meet capacity demands. Essentially, some organizations may have such large amounts of data that they may need to “spill over” into another cloud computing infrastructure when their current on-premises environment reaches peak capacity. 

This overflow often happens with businesses that have varying patterns and seasonal spikes in demand. With a hybrid cloud, organizations can conveniently deal with seasonal traffic by using a fixed private-cloud environment combined with on-demand resources from a public cloud. 

3. Availability and disaster recovery

Gain availability and disaster recovery benefits with a hybrid platform

Organizations can use hybrid clouds to promote high availability and disaster recovery. A company may keep its production environment in a private cloud platform and its recovery environment in a public cloud platform, which means all resources remain non-operational until needed. In the event of a disaster, administrators can access applications in the public cloud since the data is already present. 

Hybrid clouds make it easier for organizations to replicate their on-premises workloads while backing up data to the cloud. To do so, enterprises use load balancers to distribute traffic between cloud environments. 

4. Regulatory requirements 

Hybrid clouds can benefit organizations that need the advantages of both a public and private cloud to maintain regulatory and compliance requirements. 

For example, some businesses are subject to regulations that require application data to reside in a specific country, so they could use a private cloud. These requirements may allow certain parts of an application, like stateless web servers, to run in a public cloud to help improve performance. In this case, a hybrid cloud would work well. 

5. Data center expansion

Expand your data center's abilities by combining public cloud computing with private, on-premise infrastructure

Hybrid clouds can provide additional support from public, on-demand cloud computing services while your organization's on-premises infrastructure handles the primary workloads. 

In healthcare, for instance, many organizations manage patient monitoring within on-premises environments to prevent latency issues. With a hybrid cloud, healthcare organizations benefit from another backend to gather patient information and combine it with other large data sets to support advanced diagnostics and analytics. 

Which is right for you? 

Consider your organization's needs, daily operations, and long-term goals to choose the right cloud model

Choosing the right cloud service involves consideration of your company's needs, limitations, use cases, daily operations, and long-term growth plans. Organizations that see spikes in bandwidth demand, like retail and fulfillment centers, and companies that need to scale up their IT infrastructure rapidly, may benefit from a cloud that makes hybrid work possible and provides data, applications, and services from both private and public clouds. 

Smaller organizations, or ones that don't want to install and maintain on-premises infrastructure, often choose a public cloud-service platform. The public cloud can offer the scalability those businesses need while saving them money by eliminating equipment. Meanwhile, a private cloud architecture is often ideal for workloads and applications that require little downtime and continuous availability.

Ultimately, the decision boils down to which CSP you choose and what it offers. Not all CSPs are the same. A third-party vendor may not have the solutions you need in the type of cloud platform you're looking for. Consider a CSP that provides scalability, enterprise-level security, and performance-boosting tools that fit a wide range of industries and applications. 

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**While we maintain our steadfast commitment to offering products and services with best-in-class privacy, security, and compliance, the information provided in this blog post is not intended to constitute legal advice. We strongly encourage prospective and current customers to perform their own due diligence when assessing compliance with applicable laws.