Public or private? That is the question. When talking about cloud backup, you need to fully understand the differences between public and private clouds and which makes the most sense for your business. As is the case with many business decisions, there are pros and cons for both options. However, the private cloud is starting to look like an outdated, expensive alternative to the public cloud.

Let's find out why.

Public Cloud

A public cloud is a way to store your data in a location that is available to multiple companies. Basically, many different businesses use the same data center to store their information, but the data is stored in its own location within the data center, keeping it secure.

One primary difference between private and public clouds is the management and operational investment required. With a public cloud, you don't have to worry about any of the management and maintenance of the data. Client data is stored in the provider's data center, so they are responsible for all data care taking.

Because there is no user control, per se, over security, many companies feel as though there are security concerns in public clouds and that private clouds are safer. However, this notion is quite frankly outdated and false. As mentioned, public clouds take the management aspect out of cloud computing. With a private cloud, the information could be sitting in the back room of your office, making it possible for someone to simply walk in with a flash drive and acquire sensitive data. In fact, HUGE companies that use a private cloud have seen first hand the security risks that come along with it.

As is explained in, MSP Myth Busters: Debunking "The Cloud," cloud security is what you make of it. Before storing your data in a public cloud, you should do your research on the security procedures in place. If the security measures check out, there is no reason to believe that your data will be any less safe being stored in a public cloud than in a private cloud or, for that matter, anywhere else. It's all about building a strong relationship with the provider. As 451 research points out in its analysis of private vs. public cloud, "Much of the private vs. public cloud issue comes down to trust.... A strong relationship where the provider actively supports and empowers a customer's business in its new ventures can result in customer success, and even tears of joy for the CIO."

Another benefit to public clouds is the scalability and eslasticity of the solution. Public cloud resources are offered "on-demand," so if you need to expand or condense your storage capability, you can easily do so. Looking at our own partner base, we've found that those who use Elite Server Care and Help Desk are growing at nearly 50% year over year. Taking advantage of a public cloud lets you scale with that type of growth, while a private cloud likely can't handle that capacity. This also makes public clouds extremely cost effective. You're essentially paying for the storage that you need at any given time, nothing more, nothing less. Additionally, since you don't need to host the data center that is storing your data, public clouds are typically attractive options for small and mid-sized businesses. Not having to invest in the costs that come along with creating and implementing an in-house data center is a huge plus.


Private Cloud

With an on-premise private cloud, your data is not stored at a third-party data center, but rather at your own, internal "data center" (usually a back room in your office). Obviously, there aren't other companies using your data center to store their information when the cloud is private. The cloud is accessible to you and you only. A private cloud is typically sought out by large companies who either already have an investment into the necessary hardware, or have the means to acquire it. 

(It's also worth noting that you can have a private cloud located in a third-party data center. In this scenario, you essentially own and manage the server(s) yourself, but you utilize a provider's data center as a separate physical location to host your hardware.)

With a private cloud, you have the ability to completely customize your security procedures. Instead of searching for a vendor that has security measure in place that meet your needs, a private cloud allows your to customize those procedures however you see fit. This is not to say that a private cloud is necessarily more secure than a public cloud, it just allows you to control the security procedures rather than leaving it up to someone else. 

But is that really what you want to be doing?

The Ashley Madison website claims to have 38 million anonymous users. 28 million of those users had their information hacked and shared on the internet due to what the CEO is calling, "an inside job." 

In June, Kaspersky Labs revealed that it had suffered an infiltration of several of its internal systems.

February's multi-bank heist was the result of multiple breaches of the banks' own internal networks.

What do these three examples have in common? They're occurring on internal systems and servers. The hackers in these situations (and many others) aren't going after a third-party cloud provider, they're going through the internal security procedures to access the information.

Private clouds tend to come with higher costs and limited scalability compared to public clouds. If you run out of space on your private cloud, it's up to you to increase your storage capability. The on-demand scalability that comes with public clouds does not exist with a private cloud.


So, Which Cloud is for You?

The answer to this question depends on your situation... To a degree. Do you have an internal data center to store your clients' information? It might seem like a good idea to store your data on a private cloud. However, in a recent article on TechRebuplicMatt Asay talked about the flaws that come along with a private cloud solution. "If the whole purpose of cloud computing is to enable elasticity of resources to drive business flexibility, setting up an internal cloud (as opposed to provisioning data center resources) simply won't get an enterprise far. Companies often dress up virtualization as cloud and predictably fail to get promised cloud benefits."

In his article, Asay goes on to use data from Gartner to show just how unhappy enterprises that have deployed a private cloud are.

We'll do the math for you. 95% of surveyed enterprises that use a private cloud reported something was going wrong with their solution. 

Cloud computing is a real player in the IT industry and doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. We're all moving to the cloud, we just need to make sure we're moving to the right one.


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