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Private vs Public, What Does That Mean? Clearing the Cloud Confusion

Written by Matthew Leonard | March 18, 2014

It seems like most businesses are “flying in the cloud” these days. Gartner predicts that the cloud will eventually become more important than devices to organizations! But while cloud popularity has grown exponentially over the past couple of years as organizations realize what that flexibility can do for them, cloud computing is not without its struggles and complications. One of these struggles is deciding as an organization whether to use a private or public cloud service. Managing a private cloud is hard to maintain and requires many more resources. On the other hand, the security risks are higher with a public cloud offering, and changing between public cloud platforms is not easy.

In its 2014 predictions, Gartner states that more enterprises will look to use public and hybrid cloud models next year as they realize “it’s impossible to private cloud everything”. Gartner’s research director, Michael Warrilow states “we will see ever-more public cloud adoption … public [cloud] is probably going to be 70 to 80 per cent of cloud workloads.” He goes on to say; “it is hard work to private cloud everything. You have got to be like a cloud provider but you have also got to be like traditional IT as well. So you have got to do security, service delivery, etc. People will be too ambitious. We think they should only target private cloud for the most important and relevant workloads.”

But what does this mean for your organization? Have we lost you yet? Let’s clear the clouds, so to speak, and go over what public versus private cloud computing means, in general and for your organization.

What Is A Private Cloud?

In the simplest terms, a private cloud refers to a cloud computing platform that is implemented within the corporate firewall, under the control of the IT department. According to SmartData Collective, there are five driving factors that influence an organization’s decision to move to a private cloud. They are as follows:

1. Gains in agility and speed

  1. Reduces company costs
  2. Improves overall service quality
  3. Moving aligns with company initiatives and plans
  4. Increases in data security

Others argue however, that the private cloud increases organization cost due to the personnel costs (which make up 60% of overall private cloud costs), frequent upkeep, and more complicated infrastructure. The argument is made that compliance is actually harder to maintain, not easier, with a private cloud, due to hard to replicate public cloud architecture that builds in regulatory compliance mandates (TechRepublic).

What Is The Public Cloud?

According to TechTarget, “a public cloud is one based on the standard cloud computing model, in which a service provider makes resources, such as applications and storage, available to the general public over the Internet.” Public cloud services may be free or offered on a pay-per-usage model.

Examples of public cloud service include Google (Gmail, etc.), Facebook, Salesforce, and Amazon Web Services. The most common benefits of the publc cloud are as follows:

  • Easy scalability
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Increased reliability

The biggest disadvantage of the public cloud, hands down, is the security of organizational data. The question becomes, who really owns your data, you or the service your organization is utilizing in the cloud. Most public cloud providers have contracts and regulations that address these concerns for their clients. However geographical security concerns are at play because essentially your server could be in a different country which is governed by an entirely different set of security and/or privacy regulations, which may be a risk to sensitive data. Despite these risks, 64% of U.S. banks (arguably the industry with the most sensitive data) have made the move to the public cloud, according to NSK, Inc.

Another disadvantage of the public cloud is that each public cloud vendor has its own unique platform, making transfers extremely difficult if not impossible. Because of this, there is almost a forced loyalty to a public cloud vendor when you choose to use them for your cloud and SaaS needs.

Comparing the Benefits and Costs of Private vs. Public Cloud



Private Cloud

Mission Critical Applications

Equipment & Hardware

“Cannot Fail” Fault Tolerances


Security and Trust

Data Center



Public Cloud

Increased Utilization

Loss of Control

Simplification (Do More With Less)

Monthly Fees

Pay as you Go

Increased Support Cost

Time to Provision

Professional Services


Security Risks (Geographical)

What About A Hybrid Cloud?

A hybrid cloud is an integrated cloud service utilizing both private and public clouds to perform distinct functions within the same organization. Organizations are beginning to adopt a hybrid method of cloud computing that gives them the best of both private and public cloud offerings. In fact, Gartner predicts that nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017. According to Interoute, Europe’s largest cloud services platform, a hybrid cloud strategy can offer users the following (essentially the best of both worlds):

  • Scalability
  • Cost efficiencies
  • Security
  • Flexibility

Like with mobile and data strategies, organizations must develop a cloud strategy that fits their needs and goals, their future, and most importantly, their customers. Whether this means sticking with the public cloud, going private, or developing a hybrid model, the goal remains the same; to streamline operations, increase efficiency, and please customers. The cloud helps do all three and we aren’t finished reaping its benefits.

ServicePower is proud to offer its solutions in the cloud to deliver versatile, scalable, efficient and effective field service management. Our product ServiceOps, a true multitenant SaaS, is hosted in the cloud. Our HTML5 hybrid mobile offering, ServiceMobility, maximizes the cloud benefits, from accessibility (anywhere there is a web connection), to the ability to expand and built custom applications. Our other products are also cloud friendly; ServiceMarket is offered as a hosted or SaaS hosted solution, and ServiceStats can be hosted or SaaS hosted depending on the rest of your ServicePower solution. Find our more today by visiting our solutions page HERE.