Public, Private or Hybrid: What Model of Computing Is Right for Your Business?


Public Private or Hybrid What Model of Computing is Right for Your Business

Today, enterprises have several options for where they host their data storage and applications. There can be confusion over the differences between these alternatives and the reasoning for choosing one over another. We’re clearing up the confusion with a straightforward explanation of public, private and hybrid computing options and our take on why public cloud alone is often not the sole choice for most businesses.. 

Public Cloud and Private Computing Options: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to computing models, there are many approaches companies can take. Most companies today take a hybrid approach by combining options. The individual options fall into two major categories: public cloud and private computing.

Public Cloud

The public cloud is made up of computing services and infrastructure that are hosted and managed by a cloud provider and accessed through the public internet. Individual consumers and many businesses today use public cloud for a variety of everyday applications and data storage. 

Because public cloud infrastructure is already in place, it allows companies to take advantage of the resources on-demand. Compute and storage are consumed and paid for as needed by the user.  Fee structures are flexible, enabling both scalability to grow and elasticity for the ongoing ebbs and flows in business activity. This has been advantageous for many companies that have rapidly embraced digitization. 

In a 2020 survey from McKinsey, 85 percent of respondents reported that their businesses had accelerated the implementation of collaboration technologies such as file sharing and videoconferencing. These and other cloud-based tools took on newfound importance during the global pandemic and continue to be a major fixture of the business world today.

Private Computing

Private computing takes different forms, which we’ll explore below, but private computing options all have one thing in common: They allow you to have more control over your data and applications by keeping them out of the public cloud and in private infrastructure.

Businesses that want to keep their computing in-house can do so in a number of ways. Some of the main private computing options include:

    • On-premise: The traditional approach for private computing is to own and operate servers at a facility you own or lease. Operation includes maintaining other essential equipment such as electrical gear and cooling infrastructure, by your company or a third-party of your choosing. Legacy applications are the most likely to run in this environment, but many companies deploy their own (private) cloud infrastructure on-premise, as well.

  • Private cloud: Private cloud is another popular option, and it doesn’t necessarily have to run on-premise. Like public cloud, your computing is hosted by a third-party provider with  cloud infrastructure  that is allocated for your company alone, keeping your computing private. 

  • Colocation: The colocation model allows you to maintain control over your own servers as you would in an on-premise setup, but your servers are kept at a colocation facility alongside other companies’ IT equipment. The colo provider handles the support infrastructure to power and cool your IT hardware. Some colo providers also offer managed services to assist with responsibilities such as maintenance and security. 

What About Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud is becoming an increasingly popular approach today. In fact, among enterprise cloud decision makers and users, 82 percent are using hybrid cloud in their organizations, according to one survey. 

Hybrid cloud simply refers to a hybrid approach that involves multiple computing environments. For many companies, this includes a mix of both public and private clouds. Or, it may include public cloud along with an on-premise or colocation setup. 

Why is hybrid cloud so popular? The answer is clear: Hybrid cloud offers the most flexibility since you aren’t confined to the benefits and limitations (cost, security, flexibility, etc.) of just one computing option. 

Why Public Cloud Alone Falls Short

Companies that are choosing between a hybrid approach that includes a form of private computing and a public cloud-only approach should consider the limitations of public cloud.

Public cloud is leveraged for its affordability as users don’t have to maintain their own data center infrastructure and only have to pay for what they consume. Public cloud provides simplicity and scalability as it’s ready to use right away, with the behind-the-scenes work being managed by the cloud provider. However, public cloud has some major limitations that make it insufficient on its own in many cases. 

Let’s explore a few of the reasons companies go beyond public cloud only to choose private computing or include private computing within a hybrid solution.

Cost: Not Always What It Seems

For one, it’s worth noting that companies that choose public cloud because of its cost-effectiveness may be disappointed by the way usage fees add up. This dissatisfaction has cause some users to revisit their business cases and evaluate whether having their own data center is a better long term play. That’s especially true if you choose a cost-efficient option such as a modular data center.

Security Needs That Demand Private Infrastructure 

While public cloud providers do implement security measures, private computing ultimately offers more privacy, security and control. This is an essential feature for many companies that deal with sensitive data or applications and for industries that must comply with strict data protection and privacy requirements. This includes, for example, government agencies and contractors, financial institutions, and many other private companies that choose on-premise, private cloud or hybrid cloud solutions. 

Legacy Applications Incompatible with the Cloud 

In order to run in the cloud, applications must be configured to do so. New applications today are typically developed with this in mind, but refactoring older applications to make them cloud-capable can be complicated and expensive. In some cases, it makes sense to keep these legacy apps running in an on-premise environment while moving other applications to a public or private cloud.

Optimize Your Approach with Modular Data Centers 

Public cloud alone falls short of many organizations’ needs. Private computing offers distinct advantages, with hybrid cloud combining the benefits of public cloud and private computing. Regardless of which model of computing you adopt, you want to ensure the infrastructure you use is helping you achieve an efficient and scalable solution.

When it comes to your private computing, one of the best options to consider is a modular data center. These data centers are cost-effective to purchase and operate. There are ways you can further reduce costs during construction, and these data centers are also fast to deploy and highly scalable, so you don’t have to slow down your digital transformation. Plus, there are ways you can further speed up deployment time.

Public cloud providers can also take advantage of modular construction with skids, which are used for housing both electrical and cooling infrastructure. These modular skids offer the same benefits that come with prefabrication, including, most notably, fast and simplified deployment, scalability and space-efficient design.

Want to learn more about modular data centers? Check out our infographic, “Weighing the Cost and the Benefits of a Modular Data Center.”


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