Public, Private, Hybrid & Multiclouds: What are the Differences?

Susan Asher | Monday, January 23, 2023

Public, Private, Hybrid & Multiclouds: What are the Differences?

A cloud computing system enables businesses to store and analyze data using cutting-edge technology over the internet. This cloud technology is often referred to as a cloud deployment model. The main four cloud models are classified as public, private, hybrid, or multicloud (the use of cloud computing services from at least two cloud providers).

Fig 1. 

Cloud deployment models define a specific type of cloud environment based on ownership, scale, and access, and govern how data is kept, how customers interact with it, and how cloud-deployed applications function. We will look at the distinctions and applications of each of the three main types of cloud deployment. 

What is a public cloud?

The most common model of cloud computing services is the public cloud, a computing model managed by a third party like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure, which delivers IT services through the internet. These companies provide a wide range of solutions and computing resources, such as cloud analytics, security and serverless computing,  

The public cloud provides high scalability and elasticity and offers low-cost subscription-based pricing. Public cloud services can be free, freemium, or subscription-based, with charges dependent on the computing resources used.

Computing functionality can range from simple services, such as email, apps, and storage to enterprise-grade operating systems and infrastructure environments used for software development and testing.

The cloud provider is in charge of creating, managing, and maintaining a pool of computing resources that various tenants from across the network share. These tenants include organizations of all sizes.

Pros and cons of the public cloud

Listed below are several advantages to a public cloud deployment:

  • The public cloud is highly scalable, given there is no need to invest in hardware to improve the infrastructure. It can scale up and down according to demand.
  • Subscription and pay-as-you-go pricing models mean you only pay for what you use.
  • Cloud providers provide hardware updates and maintenance so their clients don’t have to.
  • Minimal technical knowledge is required in-house for setting up a public cloud.
  • A variety of services are made available to cloud provider clients.

Below are listed the disadvantages of public cloud solutions:

  • Specific organizational requirements around security and compliance could hinder some companies from using public cloud solutions.
  • Public clouds may not meet your legal, compliance, or industry requirements.
  • The organization does not own the infrastructure, which could restrict services and usage.
  • SaaS public systems do not always meet bespoke business requirements.

What is a private cloud?

Any cloud system dedicated to a single enterprise is called a private cloud. You do not share cloud computing resources with any other organization in the private cloud.

The data center resources may be on-site, which you manage, or off-site and managed by a third-party vendor. The computing resources are isolated and distributed through a secure private network and are not shared with other clients.

The private cloud is adaptable to an organization's specific business and security requirements. Organizations may operate compliance-sensitive IT workloads with greater visibility and control into the infrastructure without sacrificing the security and performance traditionally only available with specialized on-premise data centers.

Pros and cons of the private cloud

Private cloud has the following advantages:

  • Ensures the configuration can support all application and legacy system scenarios
  • Allows you to control the security of your cloud deployment
  • Meets any compliance, legal, and security requirements for the organization

The typical cons of a private cloud system are:

  • Requires you to configure and maintain the necessary hardware
  • Requires in-house skills to manage and leverage a private cloud infrastructure
  • Requires you to purchase and install new hardware
  • Limits your ability to scale applications if you lack the necessary infrastructure

What is a hybrid cloud?

Any cloud infrastructure architecture comprising public and private cloud solutions is called a hybrid cloud.

Typically, the resources are orchestrated as an integrated infrastructure environment. Based on corporate business and technical policies, apps and data workloads can share resources between public and private cloud deployments.

Pros and cons of a hybrid cloud

There are various benefits to deploying a hybrid cloud setup.

  • You can keep any system that requires outdated hardware or an antiquated operating system operational and accessible.
  • A hybrid system gives more flexibility and scalability than on-premises infrastructure because once your private cloud gets more traffic than it can handle, the public cloud automatically handles the overflow for a seamless experience to users.
  • You can take advantage of the economies of scale that come with public cloud deployments.
  • Organizations can still use their own systems to ensure security and compliance requirements are met.

However, there are still some considerations when opting for a hybrid setup.

  • It can be complicated to set up and manage when integrating public and private environments.
  • The cost is likely higher than sticking to a single (private or public) method.

Multicloud vs hybrid cloud?

In a multicloud environment, a company uses various public cloud services, typically from distinct providers. For example, a company may host its online front-end application on AWS while hosting its Exchange servers on Microsoft Azure.

Because not all cloud providers are created equal, organizations adopt a multicloud strategy to deliver best-of-breed IT services to avoid being locked in to one provider or to take advantage of cloud arbitrage and choose suppliers for particular elements depending on which offers the lowest price at the time.

Incorporating private cloud infrastructure, such as an enterprise's own data center, alongside one or more public cloud services, usually operating in tandem to meet business goals, distinguishes hybrid cloud computing from multicloud computing.

Factors to consider when choosing a cloud strategy

The question is whether you should be looking toward a single public cloud model, a hybrid model, or a multicloud model. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, so it's essential to consider all the factors of each.

While the public cloud has revolutionized IT operations, many companies still have a large investment in their own data centers and want to keep them. However, they also want to take advantages of public clouds, necessitating hybrid solutions.

Some companies already have on-demand IT resource delivery within their infrastructure and do not require a public cloud. Others build private clouds because their workloads may carry private data that companies don’t want in the public cloud due to security or compliance concerns.

The public cloud providers and many third-party software developers help merge cloud and on-premise resources to make management, backups, and security easier. For example, VMware Cloud on AWS (and VMware for Azure and Google equivalents) can help with deploying the public cloud's security and compliance challenges. VMware Cloud migrates and extends your on-premises environments to the public cloud. Numerous other vendors, such as those listed below, can also assist with managing technology requirements across multiple environments:

  • Red Hat OpenShift – builds on the portable nature of containers and Kubernetes but provides the Platform-as-a-Service that a public cloud vendor normally would, making it work anywhere.
  • OpenStack-creates and manages cloud infrastructures
  • VMWare extends your existing on-premises infrastructure and operations to any public cloud, running enterprise programs with a consistent operating model. 
  • Veeam provides modern-data protection software for virtual and physical infrastructures within a multicloud environment.
  • Nutanix combines the ease and agility of public clouds with the performance and security of private clouds. Whether on-premises or hybrid, centralized management, one-click operations, and AI-driven automation will assure business continuity.
  • NetApp: storage and backup solutions for hybrid cloud


The most critical components in choosing a cloud strategy for most enterprises will be affordability, accessibility, reliability, and scalability. Your sector, security, compliance legislation, budget, and future plans will determine whether a private, public, hybrid, or multicloud is the right solution for your needs.

The good news is that numerous options suit almost every use case or budget.

Discover which cloud provider is right for you in this whitepaper, How to Choose the Right Cloud Provider. ExitCertified presents courses on everything you need to create your private cloud, to connect it to the public cloud in a hybrid cloud environment, and to use containers for cloud native apps and controllers like Kubernetes to orchestrate your cloud.  

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