It seems like most businesses are ‘flying in the cloud’ these days.  But while cloud popularity has grown rapidly over the past couple of years as organisations realise what that flexibility can do for them, it is not without its complications. One of these is deciding as an organisation whether to use a private or public cloud service. Managing a private cloud is hard to maintain and requires many more resources. On the other hand, the security risks are higher with a public cloud offering, and changing between public cloud platforms is not easy.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Gartner says more enterprises will look to use #public and #hybrid #cloud models ” user=”Marne_Martin” usehashtags=”no”]

Gartner has stated that more enterprises will look to use public and hybrid cloud models as they realise “it’s impossible to private cloud everything”. Gartner’s research director, Michael Warrilow states “we will see ever-more public cloud adoption … public [cloud] is probably going to be 70 to 80 per cent of cloud workloads.” He continued, “it is hard work to private cloud everything. You have got to be like a cloud provider but you have also got to be like traditional IT as well. So you have got to do security, service delivery, etc. People will be too ambitious. We think they should only target private cloud for the most important and relevant workloads.”

But what does this mean for your organisation? Let’s clear the clouds, so to speak, and go over what public versus private cloud computing means, in general and for your organisation.

Let’s clear the clouds, so to speak, and go over what public versus private cloud computing really means

What is a Private Cloud?

In the simplest terms, a private cloud refers to a cloud computing platform that is implemented within the corporate firewall, under the control of the IT department. According to SmartData Collective, there are five driving factors that influence an organisation’s decision to move to a private cloud:

  • Gains in agility and speed
  • Reduces company costs
  • Improves overall service quality
  • Moving aligns with company initiatives and plans
  • Increases in data security

Others argue however, that the private cloud increases costs due to the need for more personnel (which make up 60% of overall private cloud costs), frequent upkeep, and more complicated infrastructure. Some make the argument that compliance is actually harder to maintain, not easier, with a private cloud, due to hard to replicate public cloud architecture that builds in regulatory compliance mandates

What Is The Public Cloud?

According to Gartner a public cloud is “a style of computing where scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are provided as a service to external customers using Internet technologies —i.e., public cloud computing uses cloud computing technologies to support customers that are external to the provider’s organization.” Public cloud services may be free or offered on a pay-per-usage model.

Examples of public cloud service include Google (Gmail, etc.), Facebook, Salesforce, and Amazon Web Services. The most common benefits of the public cloud are as follows:

  • Easy scalability
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Increased reliability

[easy-tweet tweet=”The biggest disadvantage of the public cloud is the security of organisational data.” user=”comparethecloud”]

The biggest disadvantage of the public cloud is the security of organisational data. The question becomes, who really owns your data, you or the service your organisation is utilising in the cloud. Most public cloud providers have contracts and regulations that address these concerns for their clients. However geographical security concerns are at play because essentially your server could be in a different country which is governed by an entirely different set of security and/or privacy regulations, which may be a risk to sensitive data. 

Another disadvantage of the public cloud is that each public cloud vendor has its own unique platform, making transfers extremely difficult if not impossible. Because of this, there is almost a forced loyalty to a public cloud vendor when you choose to use them for your cloud and SaaS needs.

Comparing the Benefits and Costs of Private vs. Public Cloud



Private Cloud

Mission Critical Applications

Equipment & Hardware

“Cannot Fail” Fault Tolerances


Security and Trust

Data Center



Public Cloud

Increased Utilisation

Loss of Control

Simplification (Do More With Less)

Monthly Fees

Pay as you Go

Increased Support Cost

Time to Provision

Professional Services


Security Risks (Geographical)

What about using both public and private cloud?

An integrated cloud service utilising both private and public clouds can perform distinct functions within the same organisation. Organisations are beginning to use this method of cloud to get the best of both private and public cloud offerings. Hybrid cloud offers a number of benefits:

  • Scalability
  • Cost efficiencies
  • Security
  • Flexibility
  • Conclusion

Like with mobile and data strategies, organisations must develop a cloud strategy that fits their needs and goals, their future, and most importantly, their customers.  Whether this means sticking with the public cloud, going private, or developing a hybrid model, the goal remains the same; to streamline operations, increase efficiency, and please customers.