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It wasn’t a very long time ago when cloud computing was a niche field that only the most advanced organizations were dabbling with. Now the cloud is very much the mainstream, and it is rare to find a business that uses IT that doesn’t rely on it for a part of its infrastructure. But if you’re going to add cloud services to your company, you will need to choose between the private cloud and the public cloud.

Of course, cloud computing is dominated by some of the biggest names, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure – all of which offer private and public cloud services. So, how do you know which one is right for you?

Here we take a look at the public cloud and the private cloud so as to establish the strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as for which types of organizations the models might be most suitable.

Public Cloud

The public cloud is the more commonly used form of cloud computing. It’s essentially a server that shares resources between a number of different customers. As such, public cloud environments can be perfect for smaller businesses or those organizations that are just looking into the prospect of cloud computing and want to see how it can potentially benefit them. The public cloud can offer enormous infrastructure resources at no start-up cost and for a simple fee.

Of course, there are downsides to the public cloud. One may be the security and privacy issues. It is sometimes believed that because the cloud is public, it cannot be secure. But this does not have to be the case at all.

High-quality public cloud providers keep up-to-date with all the latest security issues. This means it’s important for organizations to look into the specifics of their provider, but there are many excellent cloud computing companies offering highly secure services. There may be some instances where a public cloud may not be deemed secure enough, but for the vast majority of businesses and organizations, they are completely sufficient.

There are, however, some issues and concerns of which it is important to be aware. For example, using unsecured applications in a public cloud environment comes with the significant risk of corporate data being exposed without you even realizing it.

Public clouds can also have issues with poor authentication and weak identity management. Of course, being in full control of this is an important cyber security feature for businesses, which many public cloud providers simply do not offer.

Public clouds can be used for a huge range of applications, including CMS software for websites, email and CRM programs. Smaller companies that don’t have specific needs can benefit enormously for the reliability, simplicity and scalability of the public cloud.

Private Cloud

The private cloud is the opposite to the public cloud. A public cloud is shared by multiple businesses and organizations, whereas a private cloud is entirely dedicated to the needs of a single company. Private clouds are often preferred by larger companies with more complicated IT needs and requirements, as they can offer all of the benefits of the public cloud (a scalable, reliable and efficient infrastructure) but in a more secure setting.

If your business has very specific security regulations that it needs to follow, a private cloud can be configured directly to your needs. It can also be useful if you have a system where constant availability is a must. The hardware of a private cloud is entirely up to your company, so there are no complicating factors brought into by other organizations using the same servers, as could be the case with the public cloud.

Remember, however, that choosing a private cloud in order to ensure a more secure environment can come with challenges. Public clouds are thought of as potentially having more potential weaknesses, but it is not necessarily the case.

Public cloud providers have a good understanding that they need to provide high quality security to their users, who may be smaller and have less access to security expertise. Having a private cloud puts the onus of security entirely on your business.

Typically, private clouds are used by larger businesses with complex requirements. However, if your organization does not have the technical expertise to work with a private cloud alone, you can opt for fully-managed third-party providers.

Hybrid Cloud

Another commonly-held myth is that you must choose between the public or private cloud. In fact, you can opt for hybrid cloud services that take a little from both. These can be extremely useful for businesses that have workloads that can vary quite significantly at different times. For example, if your operation requires the security and privacy of a private cloud for certain aspects of its operation but also has applications in another part of the business that do not require this kind of sophistication, a hybrid cloud environment could be perfect.

If you are considering a hybrid cloud service, it should be pointed out that you will need to invest in your cyber security. For example, you need to understand at all times where the responsibility for security lies, and having a hybrid cloud can potentially make it more complicated to defend your infrastructure.

If you are not certain which form of cloud computing is right for your business, then you should discuss the needs of your business with professionals. Choose a cloud service provider that has expertise in working with businesses similar to yours. They will be able to recommend the best form of cloud services for you.


About the Author: Mike James is a Brighton-based cybersecurity professional with over 20 years’ experience working in different IT roles. An author for many online and print magazines, Mike has covered a range of different aspects within business and personal cybersecurity – including penetration testing, ethical hacking and other threat detection measures.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.