Public cloud adoption continues to accelerate, according to a new survey by Flexera. At the same time, we are also seeing some workloads being moved back on premises after unsatisfying migrations and the occasional higher-than-expected operational costs.
With so much cloud jargon (public, private, multi, hybrid, XaaS, etc.), cutting through the noise can take a lot of work. Driving business outcomes through strategic use of IT resources requires we ask what and how before we consider where.
Decision makers should bring in the whole team and weigh their options when deciding on cloud adoption. Private cloud and public cloud are two distinct deployment models, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. It's important to understand them both, and your end goals, before spending money and resources to modernize.
Public cloud’s popularity soared during the COVID years due to its scalability and flexible pricing, which accommodated a suddenly remote and very uncertain market. Let's compare the two deployment models across customization, performance, compliance and cost.
Security: Are we stronger together or in a fortress of solitude?
Public cloud: The multi-tenant model, a common way to consume public cloud, increases the attack surface. Multiple organizations share the same infrastructure, which can increase the risk of security breaches and data theft. Those familiar with cloud computing concepts are aware of the complaints of shared responsibility models. However, they have also seen the growing sophistication of public cloud security teams, monitoring tools and the practice of baked-in security, endlessly sharpening their defenses against evolving threats.
Private cloud: On the other hand, private cloud enables an organization to exert complete control and visibility over infrastructure and customize security layers and protocols.
This can be advantageous if you have (or contract) the talent to ensure internal and external data is protected. Private cloud environments can be set up behind an organization's firewall, making it harder for unauthorized users to access sensitive data. Additionally, private cloud providers typically offer features like intrusion detection and prevention, WAFs and encryption, further enhancing the security of the environment.
POV: The public cloud's shared infrastructure and multi-tenant model can raise security concerns, but the private cloud offers heightened security and air-gapped solutions with complete control over infrastructure, firewalls and encryption.
Customization: Make it your own
Public cloud: Public cloud providers typically offer a one-size-fits-all approach to cloud infrastructure, which can be a great starting point for those beginning to explore the cloud. At times, organizations are limited to the resources and services offered by the provider, which may not always align to their exact needs.
Private cloud: Organizations can gain complete control over their infrastructure with a private cloud and can tailor it to their unique business requirements. In addition, private cloud providers offer several customization options, such as adding or removing resources as needed, setting up custom workflows, and integrating with existing tools and legacy applications.
POV: While public cloud providers are continually expanding their service offerings and can provide significant customization, private cloud or hybrid cloud can often provide the workload freedom and security customization needed to take environments the final few steps.
Performance: Elasticity or full control?
Public cloud: When it comes to elasticity, public cloud continues to reign supreme. If you don’t use it, your bill is low. When you have extreme and unexpected demand, you don’t have to worry about your servers being able to handle the requests. Public cloud environments will automatically provision more resources when needed.
Private cloud: Private cloud allows organizations to choose the hardware and software that best meets their needs and optimize the environment to deliver the best possible performance for their applications and workloads. This can lead to better performance and faster load times, which is especially important for organizations that rely on real-time data or mission-critical applications. Private cloud is scalable, in that you can add to it or remove parts of an environment, but this can take hours compared to the minutes it takes public cloud environments.
POV: Organizations may experience greater latency by moving workloads out of on-premises datacenters; private cloud can enable faster load times and better performance for real-time data and mission-critical applications; but when demand is consistently unpredictable and can swing greatly, public cloud might be right for you.
Compliance: Customization for the win
Public cloud: Many organizations are subject to strict regulatory requirements that dictate how they must manage their data and infrastructure. With public cloud, ensuring compliance with these regulations can be difficult, as organizations have limited control over their infrastructure.
Private cloud: Organizations have greater control over where their data is stored, which is crucial for complying with data residency and sovereignty regulations. This ensures that data remains within the jurisdiction required by relevant laws and regulations. This is useful in the UK, for example, where medical and other sensitive data has to stay within the UK under penalty of law.
POV: Both public and private cloud providers typically offer compliance certifications and audits to help organizations demonstrate their compliance with industry standards and regulations. Overall, private clouds offer organizations greater control, security, and compliance options, making it easier to meet and maintain the strict compliance requirements common to public sectors.
Lowering costs: Opex or capex?
Public cloud: The cost of public cloud can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the provider. For instance, Microsoft® Azure® consumption models are different than Google Cloud. However, it is primarily opex-based, as you pay for the resources you consume on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis. There's little to no upfront investment in hardware, data centers, or infrastructure. This model can benefit organizations with seasonal workloads, undergoing digital transformation or consuming development and testing environments.
Private cloud: The capex-driven private clouds allow customers to choose the hardware and software that best meet their needs, which can create bespoke environments. This provides the ability to optimize infrastructure for maximum efficiency and cost savings. Automation tools and energy-efficient hardware can help them reduce their infrastructure costs even more and meet energy efficiency standards.
POV: It is essential to evaluate the specific needs, budget and workloads for your organization to determine if public or private cloud is the right fit for a cost perspective.
Choose the right cloud for the right process
Before migrating workloads to the cloud, we must carefully guide stakeholders through every step of the process. Too often, organizations have migrated processes that should have been eliminated, leaving employees with outdated processes, and missing the chance to involve them in designing cloud native business functions.
Choosing the right cloud service provider for your workloads requires careful consideration of security, compliance, customization, performance and cost.
Defining and refining the process now, and stating and restating your desired outcome will help determine the best place to run your workloads today, and over the long run, drive the business value that can set your organization apart from the competition.
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About the Authors
Senior Technical Product Manager
Amine Badaoui specializes in private cloud technologies, with a robust background as a cloud architect. He is adept at leveraging architectural expertise to develop and manage state-of-the-art private cloud solutions, effectively bridging the gap between complex technical requirements and strategic business objectives.Read more about Amine Badaoui