Managed IT

Private vs Public Data Center: What’s Best for Your Data?

If you're in the process of migrating your data to the cloud, the private vs public data center debate is something you should know. Which do you need?

Blog Post

6 minutes

Apr 15, 2020

Private vs public data center considerations are probably not what most business leaders think about when they’ve decided to adopt cloud solutions for their organization.

We’ve spoken before about how cloud services benefit SMBs, and how important the cloud is for the future of business, but unfortunately, it’s not as simple as pressing a button and “getting in the cloud”, as much as we’d all like that to be the case.

Decision makers must think carefully about what data they want to migrate to the cloud, and what kind of environment they want their different types of data to reside in.

Today, we’re going to look at the options you have for cloud storage and weigh up whether you need a public data center, a private data center, or both.

Public Data Center

Public cloud offerings are provided by third-party vendors over the Internet and are available to anybody who can afford them.

These data centers are offered with scalability in mind, so many offerings will be free, available at a per-user rate, or through a subscription model.

When you’re using a public data center, you’ll be sharing the same servers that other customers of your provider use—but your data is stored distinctly from others’ data.

Public data centers are typically used in conjunction with many cloud applications; the most familiar of which will be Software as a Service (SaaS) apps, like Google Suite or Microsoft 365.

You’ll also find that vendors offer public cloud services for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), too.

Public Data Center Security

One of the biggest reasons organizations feel comfortable using modern public data centers is their improved security in recent years.

Reputable providers will be able to offer options that operate at least Tier III-rated data centers, and ideally Tier IV.

Related Post: Why You Need a Tier IV Data Center

These kinds of data centers offer very little downtime—as little as 26 minutes per year with a Tier IV data center—and are fully redundant, meaning if there is a breach, your business operations will not be affected.

Nevertheless, sharing the same tech infrastructure space as other businesses is a concern for many organizations, which is one of the reasons they may favor a private data center instead.

The benefits of a public data center are: 

  • No need for businesses to invest in and maintain their own on-premise data centers
  • Scalability allows for increased or decreased usage based on demand
  • On-demand usage means businesses aren’t wasting money on unused infrastructure

Private Data Center

A private cloud is virtually the same as a public option, only that it is not offered to the public, and only you have access to it.

When you’re using a private data center, your provider will never use its resources to service other customers, as would be the case when sharing the resources of a public data center.

A private data center also allows you to customize it specifically for your needs and operate it directly, giving you total control over its capabilities and maintenance.

It’s best to treat a private data center the same as the on-premise solution you might be used to, only you don’t have to spend a small fortune on overheads to actually have it in your office.

They still require staffing and maintenance from the customer, and are delivered as Iaas and PaaS.

Security and Compliance with Private Data Centers

As we just noted, one of the primary issues organizations have with using solely public data centers is having to share data center resources with other businesses.

While this is not much of a problem with companies that don’t have to worry about their data too much, there are many businesses that are rightfully vigilant about where their data resides and its safety.

This is of course a big concern for enterprises in industries that handle extremely sensitive data, such as healthcare providers and law firms.

For these businesses, private data centers can allow them the higher visibility, data privacy, and security, giving them the peace of mind they need.

This is doubly important when you consider the host of new compliance laws that have been passed and that must be abided by, such as CCPA and GDPR.

Consumers and lawmakers are more sensitive about the handling of data than ever, and these laws will likely continue to expand in scope in the coming years.

In fact, some of the largest corporations in the US, like Microsoft, are already lobbying for an American equivalent to GDPR, and you can bet that these businesses are already keeping their customer data secured in a private data center for when that day comes.

The benefits of using a private data center are:

  • Fully customizable for exactly your needs, meaning the best performance
  • Total control and oversight
  • No sharing of resources with other businesses

Hybrid Data Center Option

The hybrid option avoids the either/or of the private vs public data center debate.

As you may have guessed, a hybrid cloud is when a business utilizes both a private and public data center to cater to its needs.

Organizations that adopt this method will usually use a private data center to host their business-critical apps and data, while using a public data center for basic tasks, apps, and non-sensitive data.

This has advantages for businesses who want the scalability of the public cloud and the flexibility and control of the private cloud.

For example, in a situation where sensitive data urgently needs to be stored on a fully private cloud, you can free up data by temporarily upscaling your public cloud infrastructure and shifting non-critical apps and data there.

This best-of-both-worlds approach is appealing to many SMBs, as it offers most of the advantages of both data center options while still keeping data security strong. 

Which Is Right for You?

This question is better framed as “Do you need a private data center as part of your infrastructure?”

By default, public data centers will offer most of the capabilities and basic security options that an organization will need.

But there are nevertheless several instances in which you should strongly consider investing in a private data center for your business, including:

  • Businesses that have to ensure regulatory compliance
  • Businesses that have tech infrastructure demands with little fluctuation (like a business with a consistent staff roster and little turnover)
  • Businesses that want the flexibility to decide how to manage and allocate their data center resources within their organization—useful for SMBs that want to move away from legacy applications installed on-premise to virtual servers, but are unsure about fluctuating needs in the future 

The Bottom Line 

For most businesses, a hybrid approach will offer the most in terms of affordability, security, flexibility, and scalability.

Each solution has merits in its own right, and every organization will have varying needs for them individually.

So, it’s not so much a question of a simple private vs public data center dilemma as much as it is finding out which each option can do for you and to what extent you can utilize them for distinct purposes specifically regarding your data.

Choosing where you keep your data and how it’s handled is a crucial consideration for any modern business, and that’s where Impact can step in to help you with your decision. To find out more about how an MSP can help with your cloud services, download our eBook, “Which Cloud Option Is Right For Your Business?”


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