Blog November 13, 2023 Ben Wismans

Public, private or hybrid cloud: which do you need and why?


cloud it tips

When delving into cloud and cloud computing, it's easy to get lost in the details. What should you do with all these different clouds, and does it really matter whether you run your applications publicly or privately? Clear answers to these questions require a lot of desk research. Through our blogs, we aim to spare you some of this effort. In this blog, we'll explain the differences between the various types of clouds. Each form has its advantages, but which best suits your needs?

Public Cloud

In the public cloud, all IT processes are hosted on external servers accessible via the internet. These external servers are owned by a cloud hosting provider such as AWS or Microsoft Azure. Depending on the capabilities of the cloud provider, most applications can be run here, from simple services like email and small storage apps to complete enterprise applications.

Pros: Public Cloud

The public cloud offers several advantages. Applications in the public cloud are often accessible via the internet, meaning they are accessible from anywhere. Furthermore, the public cloud requires no initial investment and is highly scalable. This allows for quick deployment, and scaling up or down is easy.

Cons: Public Cloud

However, the convenience of the public cloud also has a downside. As a user of the public cloud, you have little control over the cloud infrastructure, which can be problematic for specific applications. Additionally, the costs of this form of cloud computing can escalate rapidly, especially if the company makes heavy use of it (e.g., for core processes). Another drawback is that the public cloud can potentially be insecure. Although smart configuration and current standards for authentication and encryption largely mitigate this, it remains a concern for companies considering a move to the public cloud.

You might choose the public cloud if:

  • There is a reasonably predictable workload that is cheaper to host in the cloud than on a private or on-premise server.
  • There is no financial room to purchase a dedicated server, but there is a desire to work in the cloud, as with startups and young companies.
  • The company is still in the development phase of the product, service, or platform and wants to go online as quickly as possible to test if the solution works.
  • The company does not work with highly sensitive data.

Private Cloud

In the private cloud, the situation is slightly different from the public cloud. Here, applications and processes are hosted on a server accessible only to your company via a secure and private connection. This server can be hosted on-premise or by an external cloud provider.

Pros: Private Cloud

The advantage of the private cloud is that the entire infrastructure, especially in the case of an on-premise server, can be fully customized to your needs. Furthermore, after purchasing a private server, you have fewer variable costs compared to a public server. Since sensitive data is processed via a private connection, the private cloud is generally more secure than the public cloud, which is extremely important for some data, such as financial statements and customer information.

Cons: Private Cloud

However, the private cloud also has some disadvantages that are less common with the public cloud. Setting up an on-premise server requires a larger initial investment. It takes a lot of time to set up and maintain this server. Scaling up this cloud costs more money than with a public cloud because you have to purchase hardware yourself. And don't forget that setting it up will take extra time. Scaling this form of cloud computing is thus slower and more expensive than in the public cloud, but after this investment, you are unlikely to incur unexpected computing costs. This can be partly avoided by hosting the private server with an external party, but you will have to pay for usage. This will eventually become costly, so an on-premise server seems to be the better solution.

The private cloud is suitable for companies that:

  • Work with a lot of highly sensitive data.
  • Want to control and set up the server infrastructure themselves because it is necessary to run certain processes and applications.
  • Have the space to purchase the necessary hardware and have the expertise to set up the server correctly.
  • Want to handle large amounts of data cost-effectively.

Hybrid Cloud: Best of Both Worlds

The hybrid cloud is a mix of the public and private clouds, combining elements of both. A common example of a hybrid solution is an on-premise server hosting core processes, combined with a public cloud handling peak loads. This way, you can ensure that the intensive use of your core processes does not become extremely expensive, while peak loads are handled by the public cloud. This avoids costly investments in additional on-premise hardware that you would only use sporadically.

A good example of peak load in the hybrid cloud is cloudbursting. Here, a process or application runs on the private server until it becomes overloaded. Then, the public cloud steps in to handle the extra workload. Cloudbursting is widely used for online stores, where traffic to the site can explosively increase during holidays or special releases. With the hybrid cloud, you have the low fixed costs of the private cloud and the flexibility in scaling up and down of the public cloud. You also don't have to worry about sensitive data because you can continue to process it on your private server.

Considerations for the Hybrid Cloud

However, switching between the public and private clouds requires some research and work. It is important that the public and private clouds communicate well with each other. Research needs to be done on the compatibility of the two clouds, which may mean that the infrastructure of one of the servers needs to be adjusted to the other. Finally, attention should also be paid to which processes should run in the public cloud. You pay for usage in the public cloud, so you want to ensure that workloads are distributed well across the servers.

The hybrid cloud is very suitable for companies that:

  • Have highly flexible workloads.
  • Do not want to invest in on-premise hardware that will be used sporadically for peak loads.
  • Work with sensitive data but also want some applications to be easily and readily accessible.
  • Want the ability to cloudburst.
  • Mainly use core processes but occasionally need extra capacity.

So, the answer to which cloud is best for you is not straightforward. A thorough investigation and analysis within your organization are essential.

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