How to decide between a public and private cloud hosting solution

If we try to imagine a world where public cloud hosting never existed, it would look very different and be less fun. Public cloud hosting providers like Amazon Web Services make it feasible for start-up technology companies and small businesses to have access to expensive infrastructure. Otherwise, many of them would never have been able to afford the servers needed to get their businesses up and running. Many of our favorite social media platforms and mobile apps owe their existence to the public cloud.

With faster broadband connections as well as more powerful and less expensive technology, the number of public and private cloud hosting solutions has grown. Concurrently, confusion about the difference between these two types of solutions has grown.

In my last post, I explained the difference between on-premise and cloud-hosted network infrastructure, as well as the benefits of migrating to cloud hosting. Now, let’s take a look at the differences between public and private (or managed) cloud hosting solutions.

With public cloud hosting, you rent and share infrastructure with other tenants, as you do with a private cloud solution. But – and this is a big but – if you use a public cloud, you still have to upload applications and take care of management, maintenance, and security. Because of this, in the association industry, public clouds are used mostly for specialty applications, testing, and collaboration, but not for hosting the entire infrastructure.

What’s more, you can’t assume that you’ll have geographic redundancy using a public cloud hosting service – it’s usually not the default. Data may be replicated, but it won’t help if it’s done on the same system in a data center that has outage issues. For utmost protection of your data, ask your provider if data is replicated in two separate and geographically distant data centers. 

You pay only for the amount of compute power you need when using cloud hosting, yet retain the ability to scale up or down as your needs change. But, if your infrastructure is hosted in a public cloud, you better know what you’re doing because public cloud hosting is self-service, like an unmanned gas station. With private or managed hosting, you get full service and can access additional compute power within hours – without getting your hands dirty.

In addition, with a full-service private cloud, you benefit from security and reliability you couldn’t afford on your own, backed up by technology experts and round-the-clock support that you might not get from public cloud hosting providers.

With a private cloud hosting solution, experts maintain and manage your infrastructure, including your hardware stack, operating system patching, security, connectivity, storage, backup, and replication. IT staff can get out of the server room and into the conference room, where strategic initiatives are taking shape. They can help identify and deliver the technology and innovation that will move your association forward.

It’s worth repeating because it’s the most mission-critical impact of a private cloud hosting solution: your IT team will no longer spend their time dealing with hardware and software purchases, installations, maintenance, repairs, warranties, licenses, updates, and security. Instead, they will focus on your organization’s strategic work – providing technological solutions to organizational challenges.

Up next, I’ll discuss considerations to make before moving to the cloud, and questions to ask a prospective cloud hosting provider. If you have questions about the cloud or our own private cloud hosting solution, Cloud Connection, come to my session – The Three P’s of Cloud Computing, Wednesday, December 4, 11:00-12:00 – at the ASAE Technology Conference or visit us in booth 501.