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Public vs. private cloud: which is best?

July 12, 2021

Cloud computing is an integral part of a business’ success and can provide a whole host of benefits including increased flexibility and a reduction in costs. But with many options available, which solution comes out on top and why?

Public cloud – the environment offered via the public internet

Public cloud hosting is particularly popular for those wishing to outsource the responsibility of managing a cloud network. With a public cloud solution, every task associated with upholding infrastructure and service stability, such as performing updates and setting up systems that allow for data back up and disaster recovery, are shifted to service providers. In such cases business data is stored externally on the chosen host’s servers. This can reduce workload, as a business doesn’t have to look after the relevant IT infrastructure. Given you don’t need to account for space, additional infrastructure or additional security, the cost of the public cloud can be the most appealing aspect. When it comes to service, a public cloud setup may be free, freemium or subscription-based depending on the resources used.

With the public cloud:

  • Data is stored on a shared cloud infrastructure
  • Data centres vary and are always external
  • No maintenance is required
  • There is no need to invest in an additional set-up
  • Varied security protocols are available, depending on the service provider


  • Total cost of ownership can increase rapidly when used extensively, particularly for medium-sized and large enterprises
  • Not the most practical option for security focused businesses
  • May not suffice to meet regulatory compliance given level of visibility and control of infrastructure
  • Can lack basic space and functionality requirements

Examples: Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, Apple iCloud, Microsoft Azure, OneDrive

Private cloud –the solution providing top-notch security

Private cloud offers comparable advantages to the public cloud including self-service, pay-as-you-go and the ability to adapt to increasing demands but via a proprietary architecture. Also referred to as a corporate, enterprise or an internal single tenant environment, data is stored on a centralised server connected to a company’s own IT infrastructure with restricted access and management rights. The private cloud can be located at an organisations’ on-premise data centre or hosted by a third-party service provider. Aside from offering specialised hardware, storage and network arrangements the private cloud delivers higher levels of security and performance due to firewall configurations and its single usage set-up.

Private cloud characteristics include:

  • A dedicated storage infrastructure and set-up to meet specific IT requirements
  • The choice of an on-site or dedicated server location
  • Complete control to distribute resources and manage a network
  • Increased scalability, privacy and security due to internal hosting and business firewalls
  • The investment in hardware solutions in addition to the cloud service


  • Total cost of ownership can be relatively high when used in the short-term
  • May not be scalable in cases where the data center is restricted to on-site resources

Which one is right for you?

Picking the right cloud solution hinges on an array of factors and is case-dependent which is why many companies choose to leverage both.

When coming to a decision, a business ought to be aware of:

  • The level and extent of IT infrastructure
  • The amount of investment available
  • The required level of control and scalability
  • Needs in terms of cloud functionality
  • The business’ security objectives

Those who are particularly concerned with compliance to data protection regulations, such as the GDPR, should contemplate private cloud deployment. Similarly, the public cloud is better matched to new start-ups that don’t yet have extensive predictions on the scalability of their offering.

Secure data rooms in lieu of standard cloud storage options tend to be recommended if a business:

  • Requires a highly controlled environment to enable access to files
  • Has particularly large files demanding storage space far greater than what is offered by generic file storage options
  • Is required to hold data securely for a particular time period, including for legal purposes e.g. bank statements, tax information and employee records
  • Has to trace who is opening/retrieving/reading important files and what is being done with the files
  • Wishes to have a backup of data off-site in case of a natural disaster or data archives for the legal guarantee phase of a transaction
  • Works with data that has to be accessible to multiple parties and teams (often externally) while remaining private and secure. Use cases include confidential business processes such as commercial real estate sales, mergers & acquisitions, IPO’s and NPL transactions
  • Works in portfolio management and requires data to be kept safe and up-to-date to be able to react quickly and transparently to changing market conditions

Whatever the case, it is always advisable to discuss specific business needs with a service provider who can help find the right fit.

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