Public Clouds vs. Private Clouds

“The Cloud” is the latest tech buzzword, and although the term has been around for quite a while, it is starting to gain attention among the general public, particularly due to some oft-aired commercials by Microsoft. The business world is not immune to the hype, and some terminology you might have come across when making technology decisions are “public clouds” and “private clouds”.

The idea of a public cloud is the basic concept you already know, if you are at all familiar with cloud computing. Services, applications, or even entire operating systems are hosted and managed remotely by a third party, providing you, the customer, with access. Examples include Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, both of which provide software as a service (SaaS).

The term “private cloud” refers to all of the above, minus the third party. Essentially, you are hosting your own “cloud”. If you are sitting at home thinking this is a complete contradiction, you’re right. While the idea behind the term is probably genuine, as it intends to replicate software and platforms served over the cloud in a closed on-premise environment, the term has no real technical value for people in IT departments. These are just dedicated servers wearing different clothes.

While one could argue that the main difference between a “private cloud” and regularly used business software is that the “private cloud” software is not installed on local computers, but this concept of using web-based applications in an intranet is nothing new and predates the term “cloud computing” all together. The important lesson to be learned when shopping for dedicated servers or web-based services is to read between the lines and not get caught up in empty terminology.

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