Back to the Blog

Understanding the Differences Between the Private and Public Cloud

Mark Lukehart

Server technician working with laptop in walkway of data facility

Cloud technology has completely revolutionized the way we work, especially as companies adjust to remote work. When selecting cloud solutions for your company, you will need to choose whether to set up a private cloud or use public cloud technology. There are also hybrid cloud options that have characteristics of both.

The best option for you will depend on a variety of factors: the size of your organization, the level of security you need, your budget, and more. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between the public and private cloud to help you find the solution that’s best for you. 

Key Takeaways

  • Private cloud networks are used and managed by a single organization.
  • Public cloud providers offer cloud services to many different clients. 
  • Many companies use a hybrid cloud approach with aspects of both public and private clouds. 
  • Private cloud networks can be expensive to set up and maintain, but they offer more security and flexibility. 
  • Public cloud providers are more affordable and easier to scale. 

What Is The Cloud?

Put simply, the cloud is a set of servers that are accessible via the internet. Prior to the development of cloud infrastructure, you would need to be physically in the same space and on the same network as a server to access the data on it. With cloud technology, all you need is an internet connection and the appropriate login credentials to access the cloud. 

You may already use a public cloud service without realizing it. Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive are popular examples of cloud services. You can use cloud services to store data and even run software applications. 

Private Cloud

A private cloud is set up specifically for one organization. That organization owns the servers that the cloud is run on, and only users from that organization can access them. Many businesses prefer a private cloud because it is very secure and completely customizable to your needs. Private clouds are most popular among large organizations that have large volumes of sensitive data to manage and don’t want to share servers with other customers.  


  • Fully secure: Because your company owns the entire cloud, you can take extra steps to prevent security risks and keep hackers out. This is particularly important for financial institutions, government agencies, healthcare companies, and other industries that need to meet certain security compliance standards. With a private cloud, you don’t have to rely on another provider to meet your security needs. 
  • Complete control: With a private cloud solution, you have total control over your setup. You get to determine who can access your data and how your private servers are managed. There’s no third party involved, so things run very efficiently. 
  • Customization: With a public cloud provider, you don’t have very much flexibility with the way your servers are configured or managed. A private cloud gives you greater control to fully customize the entire setup for efficient and secure data storage. 


  • Higher cost: Setting up your own private cloud environment can be very expensive, and it’s often out of budget for smaller companies. Not only will you need to purchase the servers you’re using and set up space for them, but you will also need to pay IT professionals to maintain the cloud. 
  • Difficult to scale: Scaling a private cloud as your company grows can be pricey and time consuming. You will need to purchase and set up new servers each time you need more storage space.

Public Cloud 

Public cloud providers are an easy and lower cost alternative to setting up your own private cloud. Public cloud vendors like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure run a large network of servers configured for cloud computing. Customers essentially rent a section of this cloud for their organization. Public cloud providers maintain their own data centers and have an internal IT team to handle security, configuration, and other internal repairs. Customers can then purchase the storage resources they need and scale up or down over time to suit their organization’s needs. 


  • Cost Effective: When compared to private cloud setups, public cloud models offer far more cost savings. This makes them a realistic option for smaller businesses working with a tight budget.
  • Scalability: Public cloud services are very easy to scale based on your needs. When you need more storage space, you can inform your provider and they will designate more server space for you. You won’t need to purchase new hardware or overhaul your IT infrastructure every time you need more storage space. 
  • Access to latest technology: Public cloud providers typically use high performance hardware and other modern technology that your company may not be able to access on its own. Setup times are also much faster and require minimal effort on the client’s end.


  • Less security: Public cloud solutions do have security measures in place to keep your data safe. However, you are still sharing a server with others, which can pose security risks. A single-tenant environment gives you much more control over your security measures. In fact, a private cloud may be necessary to protect financial data, medical records, and other secure pieces of information. 
  • Lack of flexibility: Public cloud providers work with a very high volume of clients. As a result, they aren’t able to offer much flexibility or customization when it comes to setting up your cloud.
  • Shared with multiple customers: With a public cloud provider, your data is stored on the same server as other companies—you aren’t guaranteed your own server.

Hybrid Cloud

In addition to public and private cloud solutions, you may also hear about the hybrid cloud approach. This is when an organization stores some data on their own private cloud but uses a public cloud provider for others. This solution can be a good option for companies who need to keep some data stored securely in-house but want to minimize costs for less sensitive pieces of data. This approach is very popular; in fact, 80 percent of businesses are currently using some form of hybrid cloud model. 

How To Choose The Best Cloud For Your Business

Cloud technology is becoming increasingly important for businesses of all sizes and industries. As we conduct more and more of our business online, even small companies need secure online data storage. Cloud technology also enables employees to work remotely. As long as you have a web browser and access to the internet, you can access software and data stored in the cloud. 

To determine what type of cloud solution to use for your business, you’ll need to consider your company’s needs and goals carefully to make an informed decision. A private cloud is created specifically for your organization and is only used by the people within it. A public cloud is available to a variety of different clients at low costs with convenient deployment options

Private clouds are typically best for established organizations that need more control over the way the cloud is structured. They offer more security and flexibility but are a major investment that takes time and money to implement properly. Public clouds are a better solution for smaller, growing companies. Public cloud providers offer reasonable pricing, and their services are easy to set up and scale. 

When selecting a public cloud provider, you’ll want to be very discerning. Since you are entrusting this provider with your company’s data, you will need to make sure they have security measures in place to protect it, as well as experienced personnel to manage the servers properly. Your cloud provider should also offer frequent communication and reliable customer service so you can feel confident knowing that your data is taken care of. 

In short, using a private cloud is like driving a car, while using a public cloud is like taking a bus. Both solutions will get you to the same place but with different levels of privacy and convenience. Here’s a quick comparison of both options to further assist in your decision. 

Private CloudPublic Cloud
Best for mature organizations who need to meet specific data storage requirements and have a substantial budget. Best for smaller businesses who don’t have the time or money to set up a private cloud. 
Gives you the ability to manage every aspect of your cloud completely. Easy to scale up as your business grows, add more data storage with minimal effort. 
Provides complete security. No shared servers and you can take any cybersecurity measures you need. Very easy to use. Cloud provider handles most of the setup and maintenance for you. 
CapEx ModelOpEx Model

Choosing between a public cloud vendor or your own private cloud is a major IT decision that most organizations will need to make at some point. Your needs may also change as your company grows; some organizations start with a public cloud provider and find that they eventually need to switch to a private network. Regardless of which cloud solution you choose, the most important thing is to make sure that your data is safe and protected from cybersecurity risks.