The One Fundamental Difference between Public and Private Clouds


Have you ever asked a room full of technology professionals if they understand what the differences are between public and private clouds? You’ll be surprised to still find paralyzed faces slowly shaking their heads making sure that they avoid eye contact at all costs. So why after so long, can’t technology professionals confidently look you in the eye and answer this question?

As the cloud grows, the definition of the cloud is encompassing more services and technology than ever before. Tech Target simply defines cloud computing as, “a general term for the delivery of hosted services over the Internet.” The definition is completely on point, but when you have to explain cloud computing and more specifically private and public cloud computing to a business decision maker, that definition doesn’t provide much value.

And then there is Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS). Services such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are driving cloud consumption usage in different ways. Additionally, cloud service providers continue to expand niche services. According to the RightScale 2016 – State of the Cloud Report, Enterprises (businesses with 1000+ employees) are averaging 3 public and 3 private clouds at any time. This multi-cloud approach thus proves that now is more important than ever to get back to the basics of cloud hosting definitions.

Let’s review how to explain cloud basics so that you can successfully deliver a message to the business decision-makers in your organization by defining each:

  • Public Cloud – a service provider makes hosted services over the Internet available to the public.
  • Private Cloud – hosted services are created or provided by a third party (or internally) with dedicated, proprietary architecture for a single organization.
  • Hybrid Cloud – both public and private environments that are able to transfer data from one to the other, also called orchestration.


Cloud deployment models are only fundamentally different at the infrastructure level. 

Are you sharing server space with another organization? If you answered, “yes,” then you are using a public cloud service provider like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud or Rackspace. If you answered, “no,” then you are using a private cloud service. Private clouds might be hosted by servers operated and managed by your own team, in your own data center or by a third-party Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider that deploys IaaS at their own data center. Usually, IT professionals select a deployment model based off of the amount of security and control they either “feel” they need or they must have to comply with regulations.

We discussed public and private but how would you explain hybrid? Hybrid just means that a company has both environments private and public running and that specific data can transfer from a public environment to a private environment and vice versa. These workload migrations aren’t easily deployable yet and cloud service providers don’t make it easy to run multi-cloud environments with seamless workload migration. A number of consulting organizations were created to help migrate workloads within hybrid environments.

In 2016, you’ll see more Cloud Management Platforms that help facilitate multi-cloud workload migration services to make it easier for you to deploy and utilize public, private and hybrid clouds more efficiently than ever before. If you’re interested in getting a behind the scenes look into cloud services from the data center side – checkout this expert led cloud event in the Chicago area based on cloud computing.