Contributing Author: Narayanan Arayath

You may be wondering: What is the difference between private and public cloud storage? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think. Everywhere you turn, whether you’re flipping on the TV, reading a newspaper or professional journal article or meeting with business associates, people are talking about the cloud. And people have different ideas about which one is a better option: public or private. For some businesspeople, particularly those in sensitive industries such as the life sciences, the idea of storing their critical content in a public cloud environment sounds like a nightmare. For others, private cloud environments are too limiting and expensive, and do not foster collaboration. But what is public cloud storage, exactly? And what is private cloud storage? There are many differences, but these five are perhaps the biggest:

1. Resource Sharing

In a public cloud environment, organizations share computing resources such as the CPU, memory and network with other “tenants” in the same infrastructure. This may or may not imply that the performance of your applications will be unreliable, although it does help reduce resource usage and cut costs. In a private cloud, on the other hand, you are the only consumer of the resources. This ensures higher performance and availability, albeit at a higher cost.

2. Cost of Ownership

A big difference in public cloud storage vs private cloud storage is the cost of ownership. In the public cloud, there is no upfront cost for provisioning resources – all resources can be provisioned on an as-needed basis with charges based on consumption. In a private cloud environment, the resources are provisioned up front, which is a higher one-time cost. However, once the resources are provisioned, there are no recurring costs.

3. Security

Security is critical for many businesses, which is why a private cloud environment is so attractive to many organizations. In a private cloud, the standards of the enterprise can be implemented just as they would be in a traditional data center. Public cloud security, on the other hand, is limited by the infrastructures and safeguards offered by the provider, and consumers cannot implement their own security standards.

4. Cloud Service Offerings

Public cloud users do get a few benefits in this department, as they can take advantage of a variety of service options. The public cloud service offerings include Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platforms as a Service (PaaS). The private cloud world, on the other hand, is primarily IaaS, since private cloud environments usually provide a scalable model of the client’s dedicated and fixed operating environment, including the architecture and supporting components.

5. Control

Finally, one must also consider the variability in control when thinking about the difference between private and public cloud storage. In a public cloud storage environment, you will be one of many consumers using the infrastructure, and you won’t get any dedicated support if there is a case of a failure. In a private cloud, on the other hand, you will operate from a dedicated infrastructure and your business will be the only focus.

It might sound like the private cloud offers a lot of great benefits in terms of security and control, but the public cloud provides excellent service offerings and a lower cost of ownership. To take advantage of the best of both worlds, many organizations are looking at hybrid solutions where highly sensitive and mission-critical applications are deployed in the private cloud, while other applications are deployed in the public cloud. This type of flexible arrangement allows organizations of all types and sizes to manage risk and costs effectively while moving into the modern age of information technology.