Private Cloud vs Public Cloud: Which is Best for Your Business?


It’s difficult to keep track of all of these cloud options.

Let’s start with some definitions.

A private cloud solution is set up onsite (in your IT closet) or hosted in the datacenter of a privately held cloud provider like Green Cloud Defense, Safe Host, or Whipcord. The hardware, software, services, and network devices (infrastructure) are 100% dedicated to your business.

A public cloud solution is hosted with hypergrowth public cloud providers like AWS, IBM, or Microsoft. The hardware, software, services, and network devices (infrastructure) are shared with your business and many others.

Here’s where it gets confusing. Companies like AWS, IBM, and Microsoft are quickly overtaking smaller privately held private cloud providers with their massive economies of scale on the public cloud side as well as their newer versions of hosted “private clouds.”

The hardware, software, services, and network devices (infrastructure) are 100% dedicated to your business.

The same companies also offer hybrid clouds that enable clients to have the hardware, software, services, and infrastructure onsite as well as in their datacenters.

These giant corporations want it all and the smaller privately held cloud companies will more than likely be acquired or be forced to pivot into new differentiated solution offerings.

Competing head on with AWS, IBM and Microsoft is not a winning proposition.

The purpose of this article is to provide two simple vignettes to help crystalize your thinking and simplify your cloud planning process.

Public Cloud

A twenty-person commercial real estate (CRE) firm is a perfect fit. Assume a small group of tenant reps decide to break away from a larger company to go out on their own.

Microsoft 365 (M365) has everything they need: Single-Sign-On (SSO), Active Directory (AD), web-based email, office applications, collaboration, file sharing, and storage. Plus, M365 integrates seamlessly with all the third-party applications they use.

Each service is accessible through an Internet connection which comes in handy since the team is always on the go, finding space and negotiating leases for their clients.

They don’t need to buy a server and software or maintain any equipment on site. Resources can be added and subtracted as needed: content filtering, cybersecurity, compliance reporting tools, storage, backup, email archiving, etc.

These tenants reps also have a sturdy Internet setup consisting of primary and secondary ISPs. The bandwidth is plentiful, redundant and they’re always connected.

So they not only save money, but they also reduce risk since their entire IT stack is spread out over a global network of servers.

Private Cloud

A fifty-person wealth management firm (Registered Investment Advisor or “RIA”) is an excellent candidate for a private cloud solution – either onsite or in the cloud.

Our hypothetical financial services company demands a higher level of availability, security, privacy, compliance oversight, control, and flexibility for customized applications.

Their office productivity suite and services are nearly identical to our CRE firm except the underlying infrastructure is 100% dedicated.

Other big names in this space (not mentioned previously) include HPE, VMware, Dell, Oracle, Cisco, and NetApp. Each has an exhaustive portfolio of solutions to fit any business requirement as long as you have the capital to make it happen.

While offsite private clouds offer greater scalability than onsite private clouds, some companies are more comfortable having an IT stack they can see, touch, and adjust.

They may also be under contract and waiting for the perfect amortization inflection point or big event (office move, hiring binge, reorganization, or acquisition) to shift all digital assets offsite.

A now for a quick reality check. I have not encountered any RIAs in the past five years with twenty to one-hundred employees who are planning to implement an onsite private cloud. For small and midsize businesses, the ship has really sailed on this idea.

What’s Next?

The CRE firm and the RIA have one other thing in common: both are using a managed service provider (MSP).

A cloud-forward MSP plays a critical role in helping clients navigate the evolving world of private and public clouds. And it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.

A majority of the Fortune 1000 have a combination of public cloud and private cloud solutions with special software that shifts workloads effortlessly between onsite private clouds, hosted private clouds, and public clouds. There are so many flexible angles here.

What business problems are you trying to fix? Which major risks are you trying to avoid?

The Integris team has decades of experience, and we look forward to helping you get the most out of your cloud journey.

Jed is a Solution Advisor at Integris who has specialized in MSP solution development, sales, and marketing communications since 2003.

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