Public vs. private vs. hybrid cloud: Key differences defined

As cloud technology advances, it’s important to reconsider what we know about private and public clouds and start thinking about a hybrid approach.

The usual belief is that private clouds are best for highly secure or compliant workloads, while public clouds work well for most other tasks. Hybrid clouds were seen as a balance, allowing businesses to use public cloud services on their private infrastructure.

But things have changed. The strategies and platforms for public, private, and hybrid clouds have evolved. The specific uses for each model aren’t as straightforward as they used to be. To determine which cloud approach suits a workload – whether it’s public, private, or hybrid, or even a mix – take the following factors and subtleties into account.

What is public cloud?

A public cloud provider offers storage, virtual machines, and various services online for anyone to use. While workloads are kept separate through software, they operate on shared infrastructure.

The key benefits of a public cloud are:

Easy To Use: Public clouds are easy to use since there’s no physical setup. You can quickly start using their services.

Unlimited scalability: They offer practically limitless infrastructure capacity. Whether you have numerous applications or a vast amount of data, the public cloud can handle it.

Predictable operating expenses: With most public cloud services, you pay only for what you use. This means businesses can maintain a steady operating expense without the need for significant upfront investments.

What is private cloud?

A private cloud is like a special club where only specific people, usually from one organization, get to use cloud services. Normally, these private clouds use the organization’s own equipment. But now, services like Alibaba Virtual Private Cloud allow customers to create private clouds using public cloud resources. This shows how the distinctions between different types of cloud setups are becoming less clear.

Using a private cloud offers several key benefits:

Control: Private cloud users have complete visibility and control over their cloud setup since they own both the hosting infrastructure and the software used.

Security: Private clouds are more secure as they don’t involve sharing infrastructure with other users. They can also be isolated from the internet to reduce the risk of network-based attacks.

Cost: Over time, the total cost of owning a private cloud can be lower, providing a high return on investment due to long-term operation.

What is hybrid cloud?

A hybrid cloud combines public and private cloud resources. There are different ways to set up a hybrid cloud:

Using public cloud services on privately owned infrastructure.

Running some tasks on a private cloud or on-premises while others run in a public cloud, with tools to manage them.

The most common type of hybrid cloud is the first one. But there are other ways to mix public and private resources to make a hybrid cloud. Because of this, there can be some confusion about what a hybrid cloud is and how to make one.

In simple terms, a hybrid cloud combines different types of cloud services to achieve three main advantages:

Control: It offers more control over cloud settings compared to a regular public cloud.

Simplicity: It simplifies the setup and management by using public cloud resources effectively.

Security: It helps address some security concerns by allowing better control over where and how data is stored and monitored.

Key differences between public, private and hybrid cloud

Public, private, and hybrid clouds all offer access to similar cloud services, such as virtual machines, storage, and serverless functions. The key distinctions between these models are

Ownership of the host infrastructure

In a public cloud, the vendor manages the infrastructure. Private and hybrid clouds often involve businesses managing their own infrastructure.

Configuration of cloud services:

In public and hybrid clouds, vendors set up services like virtual machines and storage on-demand. In private clouds, users configure their own services.

Remember, there’s no rule against using different cloud setups simultaneously. You can operate some tasks in a public cloud, or even across multiple public clouds, and keep others in a private or hybrid cloud. This might require more management effort since you’d be dealing with multiple clouds. However, it also provides greater flexibility compared to picking just one type of cloud setup – be it public, private, or hybrid.

Syed Zayn
Author: Syed Zayn

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