Guest Column | October 9, 2013

How To Make An Informed Choice: Public Or Private Cloud?

By Andrew R. Calore, Account Executive, BCI Computers, ASCII Group Member Since 1997

If you are interested in cloud storage, there are numerous things you are going to need to know before you attempt to crossover. A good place to start is the differences of private and public cloud services.

Let’s start with the pros and cons of private cloud services. The name itself sounds like it would be great choice for anyone “private.” For example, in a private cloud you don’t have to connect to the Internet to store your data, and you can isolate the infrastructure of your data entirely — you have the opportunity to design the architecture of your cloud however you please. In addition to this, you can decide who is given access to your data, and there is never any risk if the provider is shut down. These are all great advantages and can greatly improve your business’ security aspects.

However, as we all know far too well, there is never a perfect product. Private clouds are no different from any other product as they have several disadvantages that rival the advantages. The number one disadvantage that I have seen in my experience is that the security of the cloud is 100 percent your responsibility. While this may not seem like a big deal to some, to others this means an immense amount of work to add security implements on top of the cloud. If you are thinking that wouldn’t have a significant impact on your business, remember it also means you are entirely dependent on yourself should there be an attack on your network. If none of this raises a red flag for you, then, by all means, a private cloud could be the right solution for you.

When a private cloud isn’t the best choice, a public cloud could be a better option. For starters, the data you are protecting is behind an enterprise-class firewall, as opposed to a lower grade one you could be given from a private cloud vendor. The firewall is not the only protection you are getting, either. The majority of data facilities have several lines of defense to protect against data thieves, so your data is protected by several degrees of security. A problem that almost every business could face is a data breach because of a disgruntled employee or anyone with a grievance towards the company. With a public cloud, your data is not accessible to these people.

Like the shortcomings of the private cloud, the public cloud also has limitations that you must be aware of. A major weak point is that you are always dependent on the vendor you have chosen. While the quality of the vendor may not be an issue, their responsiveness could become one. When selecting a vendor, be extremely certain that they can respond in the time that you need them to (in case of an emergency) or else you may be out of luck during a bad situation.

Each service has its benefits as well as its issues. I have had great experiences with Office 365 as a public cloud, and I feel that is one of the best public cloud vendors out there. The only way you can make the right choice is to research each offered product strategically and find the best fit for your office.