Cloud Primer: Public, Private, And Hybrid

421So, you’re looking into available options for cloud storage – great! The good news is, you’ve got plenty of options. The bad news is, those options can be overwhelming and difficult to understand.

Should your cloud be Public or Private? What about a Hybrid Cloud? There are pros and cons for each option, and the best for your business will depend on your budget and your organization’s unique needs. Here’s a quick primer on public, private and hybrid cloud solutions.

Private Cloud

With the increased buzz surrounding the Cloud and the widespread adoption of Cloud terminology, what used to be known as ‘clustered servers’ have assumed the moniker ‘Private Cloud’. Private clouds are best for larger enterprises that need to ensure consistent performance and reliability. Any content and applications stored in a private cloud also are mirrored across the cluster to ensure optimum performance. Corporate governance and compliance are also guaranteed in a private cloud solution, since your organization can apply whatever security, compliance and permissions you like. This solution is, of course, more expensive, but also removes the risk that your data will be compromised or lost, since you’re in control of the entire cloud.


•   Complete Control

•   SLAs

•   No Single point of failure

•   No external data security risk

•   Corporate governance is assured


•   Expensive

•   Sysadmin skills essential, unless the cluster is under a managed contract

Public Cloud

The Public Cloud is identical to a private cloud except for one critical factor: it is hosted and managed by a third-party, outside your organization. The benefits of a public cloud are that it’s extremely flexible and can scale up and down as you need it in response to demand. A public cloud is generally paid for as a utility, too, meaning you only pay for the space and the services you use. However, with a public cloud, your data will be sharing server space with myriad other websites applications and data. Depending on demand, an outage could affect all of the data on one single server – and, in a public cloud, detection and resolution of issues may go undetected because the environment is so fluid and flexible.


•   Less Expensive

•   Fully managed by a third party, meaning better reliability

•   No performance issues – it scales as needed


•   Because of its size, external factors may affect you, and may take a long time to resolve

•   Difficult to assess external data risks and corporate governance issues

Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud incorporates some aspects of both public and private cloud, and the makeup of these can vary depending on the needs of the consumer. Many organizations will store archival or static data in the cloud, but keep sensitive, business-critical data on-site.

As Phil Goodwin explains in an article for TechTarget, it can be difficult to tell if a hybrid cloud model is the best of both worlds or too good to be true.

While a hybrid model offers lower cost, the ability to quickly access and move data and greater data security, there are still concerns about latency, the potential for supplier failure. Not to mention that, as hybrid clouds become more popular, an ever-increasing number of ‘transaction charges’ and ‘service fees’ can bust your budget .


•   Lower cost

•   Offsite, secure data storage

•   Easier data management

•   Flexible payment schedule — ‘Pay as you go’


•   Security

•   Latency

•   Potential for storage provider failure

•   Cost management — transaction fees and service fees can add up quickly

It’s important to carefully consider all the pros and cons when choosing the cloud solution that’s right for you. Honestly assessing your business’ data storage needs may mean that you opt for a more expensive option now, but if a higher price tag can resolve security and data integrity concerns, it’s money well spent.

This post is written by Rackspace blogger Sharon Florentine. Rackspace Hosting is the service leader in cloud computing, and a founder of OpenStack, an open source cloud operating system. The San Antonio-based company provides Fanatical Support to its customers and partners, across a portfolio of IT services, including Managed Hosting and Cloud Computing.