How to Decide Whether You Should Use Public Cloud or Private Cloud


There are some key differences in internet security, IT management, information protection, and costs between the public cloud and the private cloud. If you are planning to move to the cloud or considering data migration, you should consider a number of factors.

Which service you use is a critical decision for your business. If you store, access, or transmit sensitive data, you may have specific compliance regulations you need to meet. 

Private Vs Public Cloud:  How To Determine Which Cloud Is Right For You

There are several key factors you should consider when you are trying to decide whether to use a private cloud, public cloud, or hybrid cloud solution or your business.

  1. Budgets

  2. Security and Compliance

  3. Hardware and Virtual Servers

  4. Applications and Usage

  5. Control and Management

  6. Service-Level Agreements

Examining each of these six items can help you make a decision about which service is best for your organization.


If you have a small to medium-sized business or work at a company with tight margins, a public cloud provider may be your best choice. You pay as you go. This means you only pay for the services you need. You can avoid expensive hardware costs and software costs. You may also lack IT management expertise.

Larger organizations may find it less expensive to invest in a private cloud rather than lease a large amount of public cloud over the long-term. However, you will have larger upfront capital expenditures and need to have IT management support to maintain your IT infrastructure.

Security And Compliance

Depending on your industry and business operations, you may need to comply with specific industry regulations or compliance regulations. Here are some of the most common compliance regulations that affect businesses:

If you are required to meet these compliance regulations, you may be required to use a private cloud to process or store sensitive data. Whether you are required to do so or not, a private cloud may still be the way to go if you handle sensitive data that creates higher security needs.

If you do not store or process sensitive data or do not have significant internet security or compliance concerns, a public cloud will work fine. Not every piece of data you use is considered sensitive. In addition, public cloud companies have security protocols for information protection.

Hardware And Virtual Servers

You should take inventory of your current hardware and assess your long-term needs when making a decision on using a private vs public cloud.

In a private cloud solution, you have complete control over your hardware and any virtual servers. With a public cloud, you do not have control over the virtual servers or hardware used, but you also don’t have to maintain them either.

Applications And Usage

Whether you use Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Software as a Service (SaaS) may also impact your decision.


Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

With an IaaS model, your cloud provider will host the infrastructure for an online Data Center.  This means servers, storage, networking hardware, and virtualization are handled off-premises by your provider. IaaS typically lives on the public cloud without having to invest in the hardware and software in-house. You can become your own IaaS by deploying a private cloud with the accompanying costs. 

If you have a business that cannot use third-party providers to provide such services due to compliance regulations or security needs, a private network will likely be needed.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS builds on a virtual infrastructure.  In addition to virtual servers and remote services, PaaS providers will host, manage, and offer other services such as operating systems and middleware. PaaS simplifies deployment but does limit your flexibility.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS providers will host and manage the entire infrastructure including applications. With SaaS, you don’t need to install anything. You log on virtually and use the third-party company’s applications and resources. The SaaS provider is responsible for the maintenance of everything.

Control And Management

One of the key questions is how much control do you need and want over your network and identity management. A private cloud gives you complete control but you also have a responsibility to manage and maintain it. A public cloud gives you less control but shifts much of the burden of maintaining and managing your IT infrastructure to the provider.

This is especially important when it comes to disaster recovery and failover control. A public cloud provider has complete control over failover planning. A private cloud service allows for you to control failover and direct traffic when a server connection fails or there are spikes in usage.

Service-Level Agreements (SLA)

In a public cloud setting, you are sharing resources with other companies. This allows public cloud providers to cut costs by amortizing expenses over different customers. This can also impact your ability to negotiate or customize your service-level agreement (SLA) with a public cloud provider as they have to maintain certain SLA service levels for all customers.

A private cloud allows for complete control over SLA management. In negotiating your SLA, you can ask for specific or custom terms to suit your level of comfort.

Which Is Right For You?

Whether you choose a private cloud, public cloud, or hybrid solution depends on several key factors. If you can afford it and have concerns over compliance and want complete control, a private cloud may be your best bet. A public cloud may be the best option for companies with smaller operations, smaller budgets, and less concern about compliance.