Public, Private, or Hybrid Cloud? Weighing the Pros and Cons

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Earlier this year, Amazon Web Services (AWS) caused a stir when they landed a $600 million contract to construct a private cloud for the CIA. Amazon’s contract coup caused many to wonder what this said about the public/private/hybrid dynamic, when a company that’s known for being the largest public cloud provider – not to mention a private cloud protestor – wins the bid? Especially considering AWS was chosen over companies that specialize in private and hybrid cloud solutions, such as IBM and HP.

If Amazon’s public-private cloud backpedalling has prompted you to re-think your organization’s data architecture, consider weighing the pros and cons of using each – or both.


private, public and hybrid cloud solutions
Image source: by Sebastian Rzepka

Public Cloud

Pros: One of the main advantages of using the public cloud is cost-effectiveness – especially when it comes to simple collaboration tools and your enterprise’s CRM and email. The public cloud also has flexibility and scalability going for it, and it is ideal for testing and developing application code, backup, and recovery.

Cons: No matter how large and efficient your public cloud provider is, there are going to be outages and downtime beyond your control. And, while data stored in the public cloud may not be as vulnerable as most people believe, your enterprise might still be uneasy with public cloud security when it comes to confidential data management.


Private Cloud

Pros: With a private cloud, your enterprise has the ability to control its own security and infrastructure.  And, if you happen to be in the financial services or healthcare industries, then your enterprise’s data might be mandated under compliance regulations that require it to be kept exclusively in the private cloud.

Cons: In addition to being more costly than the public cloud, the private cloud can be onerous, as your team will need to maintain all of your enterprise’s infrastructure and software.


Hybrid Cloud

Pros: The diversified infrastructure of the hybrid cloud can give your enterprise the best of both worlds. For example, a hybrid arrangement can be ideal for marketing and e-commerce apps that require payment information to be kept confidential (private cloud) but also benefit from allowing end-users the power to manage their purchases and account preferences (public cloud.) If your enterprise wants to climb onboard with a certain SaaS but still has security concerns, the provider could potentially offer a hybrid cloud option of a virtual private cloud (VPC), in which they create a private cloud exclusively for your enterprise within its own firewall and support it with a virtual private network for extra security.

Cons: The same model of diversification that makes the hybrid cloud so flexible can also make it confusing. The burden of keeping on top of various security platforms and making sure that all facets of your enterprise integrate and communicate efficiently will ultimately fall on IT. That’s why it’s important to determine if the pros are worth it for your specific type of organization and industry.

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