What are public, private, and hybrid clouds?

By What are public, private, and hybrid clouds?

This article explores the main differences between public, private, and hybrid cloud environments. Once you have mastered the basics of cloud computing, you will discover that there are various ways to deploy cloud resources. The deployment methods are used to categorize cloud computing into three main types:

  1. Public cloud
  2. Private cloud
  3. Hybrid cloud

All the types provide equal benefits such as cost-effectiveness, higher performance, reliability, and scalability. The deployment model you choose will entirely depend on the organization’s requirements.

What is a public cloud?

The most common way of deploying cloud computing is using the public cloud. Third-party cloud service providers own resources and deliver them over the internet. Microsoft Azure is an example of a public cloud. The cloud provider owns and manages all hardware, software, and other infrastructure in the public cloud. When you opt for a public cloud, you will be sharing these resources with other organizations, ‘cloud tenants’. You will use a web browser to access the services offered in a public cloud. Web-based email, online office applications, storage, and testing and development environments are some of services offered by public cloud service providers.

Advantages of public cloud

  • Less costly – there is no need to buy hardware or software and you only pay for the services you use.
  • Your service provider provides all the maintenance.
  • High reliability – there are many servers to ensure business progresses even if one server fails.

Resources are readily available in case you need to scale up your business.

What is a private cloud?

A private cloud comprises of resources used by one organization. Mostly government agencies and financial institutions use a private cloud. The cloud can be physically located at your organization’s data center or it can be hosted by another provider. The resources are always maintained via a private network. The hardware and software are exclusively dedicated to your organization. A private cloud is suitable where there are business-critical operations or you seek to control your data and environment.

Advantages of private cloud

  • More flexibility— and organization can customize its cloud environment to meet specific business needs.
  • Improved security—resources are not shared with others, so higher levels of control and security are possible.
  • High scalability—private clouds still afford the scalability and efficiency of a public cloud.

What is a hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud combines public cloud and private cloud hence organizations can read the full benefits of both. Hybrid is often called “the best of both worlds”. In this model, data and applications can move between private and public cloud. This offers greater flexibility and more deployment options. Microsoft Azure is the best when it comes to hybrid cloud. You can use hybrid cloud in the following scenario. Use public cloud for high-volume and less sensitive data such as web-based email and use private cloud for sensitive and business-critical operations like financial reporting. ‘Cloud bursting’ is an option in hybrid cloud. This is when an application or resource runs in the private cloud until there is a spike in demand (such as seasonal events like online shopping or tax filing), at which point the organization can “burst through” to the public cloud to tap into additional computing resources.

Advantages of hybrid cloud

  • Your organization can maintain a private infrastructure for sensitive data and have control over it.
  • You can take the advantage of additional resources at your disposal in the public cloud when you need them.
  • You pay for extra computing power in public cloud only when needed hence saving some money.
  • You can migrate to the cloud with ease.

Limitations of hybrid cloud

  • It can be costly
  • Compatibility and integration issues can face an organization.


In this article, we have discussed the three major types of cloud computing deployment models:

  1. Hybrid cloud.
  2. Private cloud.
  3. Public cloud.

The choice between public, private, and hybrid clouds depends on a variety of factors, use cases, and limitations. In the real world, it’s not an either/or situation, especially since organizations tend to leverage all three types of cloud solutions considering the inherent value propositions and tradeoffs.

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Eric Murithi Muchenah

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