Public Cloud or Private Cloud Hosting Dilemma: Which Way to Go?

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January 19th, 2011 By:

Cloud computing has remain a hot topic despite it’s being not that new a concept. Cloud storage, cloud hosting, cloud architecture and other such terms have become common, recognizable buzzwords in the industry. Cloud hosting is becoming progressively popular as web hosts find themselves dealing with the increasing demand for huge amount of resources to run a large number of websites sprouting on the Internet. Technology’s rapid evolution has now come to a level where cloud hosting may be provided in two types: public cloud hosting and private cloud hosting. This article would attempt to differentiate and assess the benefits of the two based on factors such as security, usability, overall performance and the consequential costs. 

Before that, however, let’s take a look at some basics. There are various ways of classifying cloud hosting and depending on what categories you base your classification, you can sort out cloud hosting into just 3 main types or come up with over 10 types according to several different aspects.  Let’s touch briefly on the 3 general types of cloud hosting, namely: 

            •           Public Cloud. This type, also known as external cloud, is based on the traditional mainstream model, in which the service provider makes hosting resources such as storage and applications, accessible to the public on the internet. These resources are made available through web services and applications from an off-site third-party provider that offers resources and services either for free or for a fee based on the pay-per-use model. The Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is a good example of a public cloud. 

            •           Private Cloud. As you probably guess, this is also called an internal cloud but also sometimes called corporate cloud because it is basically an exclusive corporate network or datacenter that uses cloud hosting infrastructure, architecture and technologies through virtualization; and is deployed to a limited number of people that usually sits behind a firewall. Distributed computing allows the network and datacenter administrators to provide hosting services to clients within the fold of the organization. 

            •           Hybrid Cloud. An integrated method that combines the power of both private and public clouds, this approach has tailored policies and regulations that govern core infrastructure and security. It offers the benefits of cost-effectiveness and scalability which a public cloud hosting environment provides; while allocating critical data and applications to in-house storage and resources prevents exposure to the risk of third-party vulnerabilities.

Crucial Factors that Influence the Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud Hosting Dilemma 

Basic Expenditures

Most people have the mistaken notion that Private Cloud architecture involves a huge investment at the initial stage. The fact is private clouds can be developed within reasonable budget and means. Deployment of architecture is seldom a problem as users can easily download the software private cloud can up and running and fully operational within an hour. 

Public cloud hosting, on the other hand, are mostly offered at affordable prices and charged on a monthly basis; with users paying for the usage per GB, combined with the fees for bandwidth transfer. Users do not need to buy storage hardware or software; thus, with the presumption that the user apps can handle the necessary protocols, the basic expenses become quite insignificant. 

Data Magnitude and Volume

As was already stated, extensive scalability is one of the best features of cloud storage; but of course, most companies start from small beginnings. Private Clouds only have a few TBs to begin with, but it has an integral provision for simple scalability when initial capacity runs out. This can be easily done by providing additional disks or nodes. 

Not surprisingly, Public Clouds can push off with even lesser. Its simpler structure makes it easy to deploy apps with some GBs and backup a single laptop. When expansion becomes necessary, users may opt to lease supplementary space without worrying too much about cost, which scales linearly. 

Data Storage Time Span

The length of time by which a user is allowed to store data on the cloud is crucial when selecting a suitable type of cloud. Like any enterprise, Private Clouds are licensed, which is usually paid on a one-time fee; thus, the duration of data storage does not affect the cost. This makes Private Cloud the perfect solution for content repository applications or for archiving. 

With Public Clouds, extended usage of space for data storage may mean incurring increased costs. This then means that if your data doesn’t need to be stored for long periods of time and changes rather regularly, then Public Cloud would work to your advantage. 

Security and Isolation of Data

With Private Clouds, the ownership, management and deployment are all exclusively done by in-house administrators. Data isolation is anchored in the security requirements distinct to internal processes; thus more enhanced. 

There are numerous published concepts, views, theories and dedicated websites that illustrate the level and degree of security that Public Clouds can offer; all focused on one major concern – data control and management. However, the fact remains: Public Clouds are just that, public. Data isolation can only be as effective and powerful as the virtualization technologies applied to create the cloud and the provider’s established firewall. 

Destruction of Confidential Data

Since you maintain and control every aspect in Private Clouds, you have total control on which of the stored data to keep and which ones to delete. With Public Clouds, however, confidentiality of data is a huge factor to consider as data control is primarily defined by law based on the terms and conditions put together by the hosting providers. In most cases, they hold the discretion to eliminate data – whether confidential or not – as they deem necessary. 

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Private Clouds employ a distinct mechanism for data access and availability. For the most part, they leverage several copies of files on various nodes and regard each node as a default domain. This prevents individual server breakdown or malfunctions from pulling the cloud down; thus, avoid the likelihood of data loss. In general, SLAs are mostly fulfilled. Public Cloud SLAs are published by providers in large-scale and broad terms. Fixing and resolving the issue of data loss may involve paying a certain fee to help you obtain recovered data from the last backup files. 

Locations and Access Configurations

Deployment of Private Clouds is located in a single Local Area Network; hence, require remote users to first connect to the Wide Area Network and work with Internet type latencies. Enormous private cloud deployments may comprise a wide range of locations, approaching the public cloud allocation level, but may entail higher initial investments from the users. 

Public Clouds ideally offer an all-encompassing data replication to a large number of geographical locations that may also necessitate additional charges. Public Clouds can sometimes be an interchange for content distribution network, so that users of diverse locations from around the globe can still benefit from the locality of data.  

In-House Technical Support

You absolutely need your own competent team of system administrators to manage a Private Cloud, since its deployment is contained by a firewall. For Public Clouds, an in-house technical crew is not necessary, since you’re not even required to buy your own hardware. The Cloud providers have the sole responsibility for datacenter infrastructure and its maintenance along with related costs, which leaves you more time to focus on the core competencies of your business. 

Expectations on Performance Level

Since Privates Clouds are deployed within the firewall and accessed through wire speed Ethernet Local Area Network (LAN), it’s typical to read access in the range of 100 MB per second on every node. For each additional node, you can expect a more enhanced performance as it means you can replicate files to multiple nodes, each one with the capability to serve independent requests. 

Conversely, Public Clouds accessibility is restricted by the fact that it is only accessible through the Internet. And everyone knows that with the Internet, bandwidth restrictions has always been part of the issues you have to deal with; although this can easily be resolved by selecting the most appropriate bandwidth resources you can get. 

The Critical Moment: Making the Choice 

Although it may seem a daunting task, choosing the most suitable type of Cloud Hosting to meet your requirements doesn’t have to be such a big deal. All you need is essentially a basic understanding of your data usage. The information given above should be a good reference to help you assess and evaluate your specific needs vis-à-vis the services and features that each hosting type offers.


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