Cloud computing is a powerful option for businesses small and large, but it’s important to determine whether the public or private cloud is the best option for a specific business. Each type of cloud computing has its own advantages and disadvantages, and there’s also the hybrid approach for businesses who would benefit from both.

Public Cloud Advantages and Risks

Similar to many businesses, you’re already using some form of public cloud service, even if you don’t realize it. Gmail and Google Drive are two examples of public cloud options that find their way into many workplaces. Public cloud services are hosted on off-site servers, through third-party providers who implement and maintain the hardware or software. Public cloud services offer a significant cost advantage for any size business, as well as being scalable and flexible. However, this comes at the cost of control and security. These risks might not matter as much to a small business that isn’t dealing with sensitive customer data, but they’re significant if your business handles credit card information, medical records, social security numbers or other information that can’t be at risk.

The Criteria For Choosing A Public or A Private Cloud

Private Cloud Advantages and Risks

The private cloud utilizes the same computing model as the public cloud, in that multiple servers and other hardware resources are pooled together in a virtualized environment for redundancy and performance measures. The upside of this setup is that you have complete control over the hardware and software used on the servers. The downside is that you’re responsible for purchasing and maintaining all the equipment. A hybrid approach, however, combines public and private cloud services in a few configurations. Some companies offer pre-built private cloud solutions that are easy to implement in an all-in-one package, while other companies opt to combine private cloud infrastructure with public cloud applications.

How to Choose Between Public and Private Clouds

The first and most important step in making a cloud choice is to look at the IT needs of your company, as well as your budget. Smaller businesses benefit the most from the cost advantages and hardware access that the public cloud brings. Many public cloud companies provide you with hardware that’s similar or equal to enterprise-level tools, and this probably isn’t in the typical small business budget. Enterprises benefit more from a private or hybrid approach, since they have the resources and manpower to have an in-house cloud solution. Enterprises do still benefit from the public cloud through application deployment, as you get around the requirements for setting up an endless amount of workstations with applications. Instead, any employee can log into the application from her workstation or Internet-enabled device.

Take your time to explore the advantages that the public and private cloud has to offer your business. Look into companies that allow you to try before you invest, so you can determine whether the cost savings is worth it compared to the security and control you receive from a private cloud infrastructure. Stay on top of the latest offerings to adjust as needed.