Public, Private & Hybrid Cloud: What's What?

By Hannah Wakeman

18 January 2012
(Photograph by Scottchan)

So businesses understand the Cloud… Great! But what’s the difference between a Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud?!

Each is very different; each has its pros and cons; here is my attempt at an explanation:

Public Cloud

Most of us are already using the Public Cloud if we access our e-mails via Google or Hotmail for example. Services are provided solely over the Internet, making it highly efficient and cost effective. This is usually a good solution for sole traders and freelancers.

Advantages of Public Cloud

  • It is usually low cost
  • You can access IT software over the Internet to save purchasing it yourself or paying for licenses
  • There is minimal, if any set up cost
  • It saves time: Software can be installed quickly and if something goes wrong, it can be fixed very fast
  • It’s the quickest and easiest way to ‘trial’ the Cloud


Disadvantages of Public Cloud

  • You don’t physically have a server in your office, which some people like to see
  • You don’t have quite as much control of your IT
  • It relies on your Internet connection – if you have a weak or unreliable one, you may have trouble accessing your work


Private Cloud

A Private Cloud limits access to the service to a specific group of people for example. Your work is stored in a data center owned by your cloud provider, or can be stored on a server in your office. This is usually a good solution for small and medium businesses, or those who have strict security issues to adhere to.

Advantages of Private Cloud

  • You can still access your work remotely
  • It is more secure than the Public Cloud
  • Because it ran on hardware, you can have more control of your data
  • There is usually more storage on a Private Cloud


Disadvantages of Private Cloud

  • It usually costs more money than the Public Cloud
  • Risk of hardware damage whether your server is stored on-site or at a data centre


Hybrid Cloud

The dictionary definition of Hybrid = Something having two kinds of components that produce the same or similar results. How this applies to Cloud Computing is that businesses get use of a Private Cloud with access to the cloud for odd times of high usage. This solution is great for larger businesses who might expect a sudden influx of web traffic or enquiries.

Advantages of Hybrid Cloud

  • Gives you the best of both Clouds
  • Highly scalable


Disadvantages of Hybrid Cloud

  • Slightly more complex
  • Often the more expensive option


I hope this has helped to demystify some of the Cloud terminology. I’m certain we’ll see more emerge over the coming months and years.

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