So You Want to Move Your Servers to the Cloud — Public or Private?

The cloud. We hear the term, and we all use it, but what does it mean when you’re waiting to ditch the server room and move it all to the cloud? What is the difference between the cloud, private cloud, and public cloud? And finally, what motivations do IT companies have to push one solution over another? 

Let’s answer these questions.

What do we mean by “The Cloud”?

“The Cloud” is a catch-all term used to describe accessing a service on someone else’s server(s) over the internet. It’s a general term that includes both  public and private clouds. 

This blog focuses on a type of cloud that replaces or complements on-premise IT infrastructure (e.g., physical servers). This functionality is referred to as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). 

What is a private cloud? 

A proper private cloud is a cloud service exclusively offered to one organization. By using a private cloud, an organization can experience the benefits of cloud computing without sharing resources with other organizations (ref).

Pros of IaaS private cloud:

  • Completely controlled by a single organization and is not shared by others. 
  • Maximum flexibility. You can choose an infrastructure with specific storage and networking characteristics so that the system meets your individual needs.
  • Superior performance and security if configured properly. 

Cons of IaaS private cloud:

  • If run by your internal IT: it takes substantial resources to own and operate. You’re essentially becoming an IT company and fronting capital to own numerous complex systems that will forever need significant resources to function. It is uncommon for a non-IT business to operate a private cloud without a third-party IT company powering it. 
  • The world of IT companies offering “private cloud” is deceptive and proprietary. There is little to no barrier to entry to call yourself a private cloud provider. In most cases, their definition of private is much closer to public cloud due to the nature of a relatively small IT company using shared resources between many different clients to control costs and maximize profits.
  • A significant issue with “private cloud” IT companies is that your fate is tied to a small business that needs to survive as long as yours. If the IT company has a significant cybersecurity event, will it survive it or close shop? What happens to your private cloud, and how much data loss and downtime can you handle? It’s a risk major public cloud providers have figured out. 
  • The other major issue with “private cloud” IT companies is lock-in. What’s the path to migrating away from them in the future if you change your mind? We’ve run into a real-world example: a client fires a private cloud IT company and we got a USB drive with folders on it, and it took four days of downtime to upload and recreate the environment in a public cloud. When you rent a service like this from a small IT company, you do not own anything but the folder structure. It can easily take over a week of downtime if you have any complexity or size if you were to move away from a private cloud IT vendor. 

What is a public cloud?

A public cloud is a cloud service offered to multiple customers by a cloud provider. The term “public cloud” differentiates between the original cloud model of services accessed over the internet and the private cloud model. Like all cloud services, a public cloud service runs on remote servers that a provider manages. Customers of that provider access those services over the internet (ref).

Major public cloud providers include Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.

Pros of a public cloud:

  • Run by gigantic, financially sound, scalable, and innovative enterprises with near-unlimited resources. 
  • IT companies must conform to the IaaS vendors’ way of doing business. It may seem counterproductive, but having standards, terms of service, and the possibility of being “portable” from the hosting IT company is a huge advantage over a private cloud. 

Cons of an IaaS public cloud:

  • For IT companies: it’s considerably lower margin than a private cloud, there’s a need to jump through the vendors’ “hoops” to partner & train, and it’s significantly less “sticky” (more accessible for clients to transition away from them) than private cloud. 
  • It can be more expensive than a private cloud, especially without committing to reserve pricing for multiple years. Furthermore, outbound network traffic is typically metered and can impact the bill during heavy outbound traffic months. 
  • Unless you are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, you are a small client to the trillion-dollar major public cloud providers. 

What motivates IT companies to choose public or private cloud?

With the above information, you can come to your conclusions. We’ll share that PK Tech does only public clouds via Microsoft Azure, and we would allow a client to transfer the subscriptions to another provider if needed. 

Our advice to businesses reading this is do your due diligence before you sign on the dotted line. Ask the questions: What happens if you guys go out of business? What’s involved with migrating away from you?

Be risk averse. It’s 2022 and IT companies are being acquired, targeted by cybercriminals, and having difficulty qualifying for cybersecurity insurance. The barrier to entry for IT company private cloud solutions is low, and the price of failure is catastrophic for everyone.  To state it briefly, we consider IT company-run private cloud solutions to not be worth the risk.

If your organization is considering a cloud solution to replace on-premise infrastructure and has questions, PK Tech can answer them. Get in touch with our team here.