Public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, or multicloud? What are the differences & benefits?
The popularity of cloud computing is continuously on the rise. It’s been an increasing trend for a few years now, but the Covid-19 pandemic additionally accelerated cloud migration worldwide.
Looking at the benefits it brings, it’s no wonder that the cloud is taking the world by storm. Not only does it speed up the time to market, cut cost and allow to scale more easily, but also makes decision making more agile thanks to real-time insights. All that with very few limitations is making cloud migration a priority item on many Boards’ agendas.
If you’re considering moving to the cloud in the nearest future, you may soon face the decision about which cloud deployment model will best fit your business needs. It may be a tricky one if you’re not well-versed in the topic.
So together with Łukasz Marcinek, our Head of Cloud Engineering, we’ve prepared this comparison to make things clearer for you. We described the differences between a public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud and multicloud with a focus on the specific business needs each cloud deployment model addresses best.
Let’s get to it.
What is a cloud deployment model?
A cloud deployment model specifies who has access to the infrastructure and uses it: whether it’s for your exclusive use or it’s a shared solution. Or maybe it’s a combination of both.
Mind that a cloud deployment model is not the same as a cloud service model. The latter refers to the level of control and responsibility you have over the whole infrastructure and your data.
Let’s break each cloud deployment model down into its pros and cons and see how they differ in terms of cost, easiness of setup, security and control level as well as scalability.
What is a public cloud and how does it work?
A public cloud is hosted by a third-party provider who manages the whole infrastructure: both the hardware and software. You can also manage it to a certain extent, but not like in a private cloud.
The name “public cloud” may be a bit confusing. It means that the cloud service is accessible to the public, but the data stored in a public cloud isn’t available to everyone.
Under the shared responsibility model, public cloud vendors provide their users with tools to ensure security and compliance. It’s up to the user if and how they will make use of such tools. De facto you can configure a VPN or private network in a public cloud only if you want to and know how to do it.
In a public cloud, you can configure and to some extent manage the network, load balancing, or routers, but you can’t decide about what machine is allocated to you, it’s up to the provider.
What are the advantages and benefits of a public cloud?
No need to invest in and be responsible for local hardware
A public cloud offers a high SLA that frees you from having the responsibility to keep the local hardware up-to-date or maintain it. It all lies with the provider.
Cost efficiency thanks to the pay-per-use (aka pay-as-you-go) model
You can pay only for the actual time when you use a public cloud, for example during the day and it can be turned off at night. This way you can make big cost savings.
Almost infinite scalability
When it comes to scaling a public cloud, the sky is the limit (well, almost, but the limits are very high indeed). It’s a matter of clicking a button. Of course, there are some limitations simply just to avoid scaling the service by mistake, but all in all, you can scale up as much as you need at the current moment.
You can stay compliant with business-specific regulations
It’s a common misconception that a public cloud gives less security than a private cloud. Public cloud providers offer tools to ensure that their users will stay compliant with regulations governing their businesses, for example, PCI DSS or HIPAA / HITECH.
You can allocate your data anywhere in the world
Need to allocate your data in Australia for some business reason? If there’s such an option available, you can do it.
The software licence is included in a public cloud’s pricing
In a public cloud, you get the licence for the period of using the resources without any extra costs. For example, if you build a database in Microsoft Azure, you have it free of extra charge for as long as you use the service.
What are the disadvantages of a public cloud?
Some specific security requirements may prohibit the use of a public cloud
There can be certain government policies, industry standards, or legal requirements, which the public cloud platforms cannot meet.
What is a private cloud and how does it work?
In a private cloud model, you have the cloud infrastructure for your business’ exclusive use. The servers are provided by a third-party vendor, for example, a data centre.
The idea of “private” in a private cloud is not that much about the ownership of the whole infrastructure, but rather about the exclusivity of use.
What are the advantages and benefits of a private cloud?
A private cloud can be customized according to your needs
Since you get the whole infrastructure for your exclusive use you can tailor it to your specific business solution and have more control over it.
It allows you to meet very specific requirements
Some security or legal requirements cannot be met in a public cloud. A private cloud offers more flexible configuration options that can support even very specific security requirements.
What are the disadvantages of a private cloud?
The setup takes more time and effort
For a start, you only get the virtual machine and network access. If you want to set up and manage the environment, you’re left to do it on your own. The SLA can be lower than in a public cloud and there are no pre-built solutions or additional services to help you make the setup and management easier.
You need the help of IT specialists
Since the setup is quite complicated, you need expert knowledge and resources to configure, customize and manage a private cloud to make it fit your needs. This may also raise the overall costs of kicking off and using a private cloud.
A private cloud model offers less scalability in comparison to a public cloud due to the limited option of hardware extension. In the case of a private cloud scaling on demand may not always be possible.
Usually, you must pay a fixed price for a dedicated private cloud that is specified in a contract with a third-party provider and doesn’t depend on the actual usage.
An additional cost of the software licence
In a private cloud in most cases, you must buy a licence for the software you want to use.
What is a hybrid cloud and how does it work?
A hybrid cloud is a combination of the private and public cloud models or the cloud with on-premise infrastructure. All the infrastructures are connected, enabling data flow and integration.
What are the advantages and benefits of a hybrid cloud?
With a hybrid cloud, you can juggle the costs. When you don’t need high scalability, you can move the resources or part of it to a private cloud or on-premise and once you need to increase the scalability again, you can add a cluster in the cloud.
It makes the process of migration to the cloud smoother
A hybrid cloud model can be useful when migrating your business to the cloud as it ensures the continuity of processes. The migration can be done in small steps: part of the data may be moved to the cloud, while the rest of it can stay on-premise. They can be integrated through a VPN or network.
What are the disadvantages of a hybrid cloud?
Configuring a hybrid cloud and making sure that everything is smoothly linked together for example through a VPN is not easy and requires expert knowledge and skills.
It combines the risks associated with private and public cloud
Since it’s a mix of both cloud deployment models or an on-premise data storage it carries the risks of each solution.
What is multicloud and how does it work?
Multicloud refers to using more than one cloud from multiple vendors. Multicloud may be an option worth considering when one cloud provider offers a service that another cloud provider doesn’t have in their offer or it’s significantly cheaper.
What are the advantages and benefits of multicloud?
It’s a good solution to optimize the costs
As mentioned above, in some cases multicloud may help you save money by combining services from providers who offer the best prices.
It may give a competitive advantage
Your business or cost requirements for solution A may be better addressed by one cloud deployment model, while for solution B by another.
What are the disadvantages of multicloud?
A cross-cloud connection may be tricky
Implementing and managing multicloud is quite a challenge due to its complexity. It’s a task for an experienced team of skilled cloud engineers who know each cloud platform inside-out.
Is a private cloud more secure than a public cloud?
The rules are the same no matter if you keep your data in a private or public cloud: you need to check and make sure all the security procedures and standards are in place.
Actually, quite often, public cloud providers have the highest security standards because they are very big organizations that have expert knowledge of and access to various, complex security solutions. For this reason, a public cloud can be in fact more secure than a private cloud or on-premise infrastructure. However, as I already mentioned, public cloud providers adhere to the shared responsibility model: they give you the tools to keep your data secure, but you as a user need to know how to make use of them in the right way.
Private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud, or multicloud: which one should you choose?
Is a hybrid cloud better than a private cloud? Or is a private cloud better than a public cloud? Actually, none is better, nor worse. It’s rather a matter of your business needs. Depending on what your business requires one cloud deployment model might be favourable over another.
When to use a private cloud?
If the character of your business requires implementing a tailor-made solution, a private cloud gives the highest customization options and allows you to control the infrastructure to the biggest extent. Also, if there are any business, governance, legal or security requirements that you need to meet, which aren’t covered by a public cloud, then a private cloud is the way to go. Also, in certain cases, a private cloud can be a better option for some legacy applications.
When to use a public cloud?
If you want your cloud to be easy to scale almost without limits and quick to set up, then a public cloud would be the way to go. Also, you don’t have to worry about your data safety, because, contrary to common misconception, a public cloud offers high–security options and tools to ensure that its users are compliant with local and international regulations.
When to use a hybrid cloud?
A hybrid cloud is a great option when you want to migrate your business to the cloud as it ensures the transition will be smooth and you’ll avoid a possible hard start. It also allows you to take advantage of both a private cloud’s advanced customization options, to address specific requirements, and a public cloud’s scalability.
When to use multicloud?
If you noticed that other cloud providers offer services that you’re interested in at much lower prices and you’ll be able to make significant cost savings, then multicloud is an option worth considering. Also, if combining different cloud platforms would make your product or service more competitive on the market.
Ready for cloud adoption?
Hope you found this article helpful and now you’re able to tell what cloud deployment model will fit your business needs best.
Cloud migration is a complex process that may require expert help to avoid possible bumps along the way. Our team of experienced cloud engineers can advise you on the migration method and take care of the whole process, including code and documentation review as well as producing high-level architecture.
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