Private vs. Public Cloud Computing: What’s the Difference?

Everyone agrees that cloud computing provides scalability, provisioning, virtualized resources and an ability to expand the server base quickly. Private cloud vs. public cloud discussions always follow this statement for some notable reasons.

The majority of public cloud deployments are generally used for quality assurance testing, or when user demand peaks and falls at certain times of the day, month or year. Generally, security and compliance requirements are not an issue. Private cloud computing, on the other hand, is by definition a single-tenant environment in which the hardware, storage and network are bought by and dedicated to a single client or company. Hybrid cloud, in turn, offers a mix of public and private cloud computing, where public cloud resources are integrated with private or virtual private cloud services to create a unique hybrid environment. The public cloud is defined as a multi-tenant environment, where you buy a “server slice” in a cloud-computing environment that is shared with a number of other clients or tenants.

Advantages of a Private Cloud

A private cloud provides nearly all the same benefits as the public cloud, but even more so.

Most importantly, private cloud computing security provides a greater level of security, making it ideal for larger businesses, or businesses that deal with HIPAA or handle financial data. With a private cloud, this can be achieved while still allowing the organization to benefit from cloud computing.

Other advantages of a private cloud include having more control over the server, tailoring it to your own preferences and in-house styles. While this can remove some of the scalability options, private cloud providers often offer what is known as “cloud bursting,” (aka hybrid clouds), which is when non-sensitive data is switched to a public cloud to free up private cloud space in the event of a significant spike in demand until the private cloud can be expanded.

In summary, the main benefits of the private cloud are:

  • Improved security
  • Greater control over the server
  • Flexibility in the form of cloud bursting

Disadvantages of a Private Cloud

The downside of private cloud services includes a higher initial outlay, although in the long term many business owners find that this balances out and actually becomes more cost-effective than public cloud use. It is also more difficult to access the data held in a private cloud from remote locations due to the increased security measures.

In conclusion, cloud solutions provide a wide variety of benefits to your business, not the least of which is better access to data, connecting to cloud-based applications and solutions, increased flexibility for remote employees, and more. Most often the deciding factor in choosing whether to go with a public or private cloud—or a hybrid of the two—boils down to budget, and as your budget grows, so will your use of the cloud. The question won’t be whether to use the cloud or not, but rather, which type of cloud is right for me today.

As opposed to public clouds, fully private clouds are not delivered through a utility model or on a pay-as-you-go basis because the hardware is dedicated. Virtual Private Clouds, for example, offer the same pay-as-you-go model as public clouds, with the added bonus of specifically provisioned hardware, network and storage configurations. Private clouds, including Virtual Private Clouds, are generally preferred by mid- and large-size enterprises because they meet the security and compliance requirements of larger organizations and their customers.

Advantages of a Public Cloud

One of the main benefits that comes with using public cloud services is the ease of scalability—up to a point. For small and mid-sized businesses in general, scalability is pay-as-you-go. The resources are offered “on-demand,” so any changes in activity level can be handled easily. This, in turn, brings about cost-effectiveness. Because of the pooling of a large number of resources, users are benefiting from the savings of large-scale operations. There are many services, such as Google Drive, that are offered for free.

Finally, a major difference between private and public cloud is a big network of servers involved in public cloud services means that it can benefit from greater reliability. Even if one data center was to fail entirely, the network simply redistributes the load among the remaining centers, making it highly unlikely that the public cloud would ever fail. In summary, the benefits of the public cloud are:

  • Pay-as-you-go scalability
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Increased reliability

Disadvantages of a Public Cloud

Public cloud infrastructure has some major disadvantages that must be mentioned in the public cloud vs private cloud discussion. The most important is the fact that the security of the data held within a public cloud is a cause for concern. It is often seen as an advantage that the public cloud has no geographical restrictions, making access easy from wherever you are, but on the flip side, this could mean that your server is in a different country that is governed by an entirely different set of security and/or privacy regulations.

As mentioned above, you can scale up with a public cloud, but as publicized data in many cases demonstrates, you could also run into surprising costs if you need to move large amounts of data in and out, or even within the public cloud.

Performance can be an issue as well. Your data transmission could be affected by spikes in use across the internet. If application performance is a deal-breaker for you, then you may be forced to go with a private cloud.

The Third Option

In the public vs private cloud discussions, a third option usually emerges — the hybrid cloud. It allows you to combine the public cloud with the private cloud or dedicated hosting, and leverage the best of what each has to offer to meet your needs. Use the public cloud for non-sensitive operations, the private cloud for business-critical operations, and incorporate any existing dedicated resources to achieve a highly flexible, highly agile and highly cost-effective solution.

Improved security is another major benefit of hybrid clouds. While the perception that the cloud is not secure is a persistent one among members of traditional IT teams, TechTarget reports that users of service-provider environments actually suffer from fewer attacks than on-premise users do. The myth that cloud computing is less secure than traditional approaches persists because data stored off-premises feels less secure, but this is not the case. Cloud computing can offer increased security for organizations utilizing it.

Public Cloud Private Cloud Hybrid Cloud
Strong side Pay-as-you-go, reliability Security, accessible backend, flexible Flexible combination of shared and dedicated server capabilities
Scalability Yes Yes Yes
Costs Pay-as-you-go Set pricing of cloud capacity Combines both systems for rational resources allocation
Performance Limited Scalable Scalable
Customizability Unavailable Yes Yes


In discussions of the public cloud versus the private cloud, it is important to understand the ways in which it may benefit or hurt your company. While both choices fit most businesses, a hybrid cloud is still a valid option for companies who wish to use both sides at the same time. A private cloud is a definite solution for security and customization purposes, while more resources could be saved if a public cloud is used. In either case, this choice is dependent on the demands of the market and enterprise.

Rating: 3.0/5. From 1 vote. Show votes.
Please wait...

About the author


A copywriter at SaM Solutions, Eugene is fond of writing about innovative technologies and solutions that improve living standards and add value to business operations.


  • thank you for sharing this differences between the private ,public cloud along with their advantages and disadvantages

    No votes yet.
    Please wait...
  • Thank you for your article. Keep writing.

    No votes yet.
    Please wait...
  • Nice blog. I would like to share it with my friends. I hope you will continue your works like this. Keep up the excellent work. You have a magical talent of holding readers mind. It is something special which cant be given to everyone.

    No votes yet.
    Please wait...
  • Another very strong and powerful post I’ve read some of your previous posts and finally decided to drop a comment on this one. I signed up for your newsletter, so keep up the informative posts!

    No votes yet.
    Please wait...