Cloud Management

Public Cloud vs Private Cloud vs Hybrid Cloud

Having difficulty picking the type of cloud for your IT environment? We go through how to choose between Public, Private, and Hybrid Cloud.

Sina Burmeister A photo of Sina Burmeister

Sina Burmeister

Enterprise Account Executive

Cloud-based infrastructure has multiple deployment models, namely public, private, and a mixture of these two known as hybrid. According to a Flexera 2022 report, 91% of businesses reported using a public cloud service, 72% opting for a private cloud solution, and 69% selecting a hybrid solution. 

It appears that all these different types of clouds have very high adoption rates, so understanding the difference between these three models will help you choose the one most suitable for your environment’s needs.

At a high level, this is how each cloud differs from one another.

What Is Public Cloud?

The main characteristic of public cloud is multi-tenancy. Customers share compute, storage and networking hardware with other customers, while data and workloads remain isolated via virtualization. Rather than having to own and operate the hardware, you rent it by subscription, paying only for the services you actually use.

Private Cloud Explained

Private cloud is typically deployed for organizations that do not want to share the computing resources with other tenants. Private cloud solutions are usually custom solutions where a service provider designs a solution which uses dedicated hardware for each user that also allows for easy scalability. 

What is Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud is any cloud-based infrastructure environment that combines both public and private cloud solutions. It is a type of cloud setup that behaves like a single IT environment, where data and apps can be shared and flow easily between the two environments. 

There are two types of hybrid cloud configurations – homogenous and heterogenous. Homogenous hybrid clouds are those where the entire software stack is provided by a single vendor. That single vendor manages both the public cloud offerings and any private cloud environment, be it on-premises or off-site. 

Heterogeneous hybrid clouds use multiple vendors to manage a different part of the cloud infrastructure. They integrate public and private components from more than one vendor resulting in diversity of services, vendors and environments. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Environments

Now let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of each of the cloud environments described. 

Public Cloud Pros

Designed with scalability and accessibility in mind, public cloud’s benefits are attractive to many audiences, from business leaders to DevOps teams. These include:

  • No upfront capital expenditure - a public cloud effectively shifts your IT spend from a capital expenses (CAPEX) framework to an operating expenses (OPEX) model: instead of making a large upfront investment to purchase and install hardware and software, you just pay for the resources that you use.

  • On-demand scalability - CSPs possess vast amounts of resources, which means that you can provision more resources when demand peaks and then scale down when demand drops.

  • No physical maintenance - the cloud solution provider is responsible for all of the physical management and maintenance of the data center, meaning there is no lengthy procurement process, no hardware deployment, patching, updates, or call-outs. There is also no need to configure or assemble servers, and you don’t have to worry about establishing and maintaining network connectivity. 

  • Reduced complexity - The public cloud shifts focus from infrastructure maintenance to application development, helping you maintain a much smaller cadre of IT experts in-house, ones focused solely on building and delivering high-value products and services.

  • High reliability - Cloud providers maintain large, geographically distributed networks of servers, together with sophisticated redundancy and failover strategies, to ensure customers against outages and downtime.

Public Cloud Cons

However, public cloud solutions also pose some challenges, such as:

  • Cost optimization - despite low upfront investments, a poorly optimized public cloud can lead to high recurring costs, especially for mid-to-large enterprises.

  • Security and compliance - Some industries, such as finance and healthcare, require very high levels of security and are subject to strict privacy controls, meaning that the multi-tenant approach poses a risk that these industries cannot afford.

  • Training and retraining - especially for enterprises that migrate from on-premises to the cloud, the workforce may need vendor-specific training to understand and operate that specific cloud environment.

Private Cloud Pros

Private cloud environments resemble more on-premises deployments compared to their public cloud counterparts. As such, some of their benefits include:

  • Exclusive environments - An environment dedicated to a single customer affords maximum levels of protection against unauthorized data access and theft. With dedicated hardware, customers don’t risk the possibility of noisy or unsecure neighbors who may become a liability or a threat vector.

  • Stringent security - private cloud providers can work with the customer to provide adequate levels of security for their requirements.

  • Regulatory compliance - Private cloud infrastructure can be tailored to conform to strict, mandatory privacy and governance rules for sensitive and confidential workloads and data.

  • Custom solution - as a dedicated solution, customers work with private cloud providers to analyze and determine how the private cloud solution should be designed, configured and deployed. This is in contrast with public cloud solutions, where cloud providers only provide the bare necessities of hardware and software tools. Extra support and application design is an add-on service or is provided by third parties.

Private Cloud Cons

Private cloud’s challenges can be thought of as a ‘reduced scope’ version of public cloud’s benefits. These include:

  • Higher costs compared to public cloud - The cost of a private cloud solution is quite expensive and comes with a relatively high total cost of ownership (TCO) compared to public cloud alternatives, especially in the short term.

  • Relative scalability - because resources are dedicated, the process of spinning up new resources is slightly more involved relative to public clouds. Typically, new resources are not added on-demand via self-service, but need to be requested directly from private cloud service provider. 

  • Vendor lock-in - private cloud solutions are typically configured and deployed with the long-term (3–5 years) in mind. This means that switching providers or clouds is considerably more difficult compared to with public cloud.

Hybrid Cloud Pros

Hybrid cloud essentially combines the best of both worlds, addressing many of the challenges of public and private cloud. These feature:

  • High reliability - Applications and data can be distributed across multiple data centers for highly effective redundancy, failover, and disaster recovery.

  • Flexibility and agility - enterprises using hybrid cloud have the opportunity to distribute their workloads depending on cost, security, compliance and latency requirements across both public and private cloud providers.

  • Future-proofing - using more than one type of cloud means that enterprises decrease dependability on a single provider and can leverage new developments across all the vendors included in a hybrid cloud solution.

Hybrid Cloud Cons

The main drawback of hybrid cloud is the considerable increase in technical and financial complexity. Here's a closer look at what these may entail:

  • High overhead cost - Running, maintaining, and optimizing the on-premises segment of a hybrid cloud is an expensive proposition, especially for smaller organizations. 

  • Infrastructure complexity - hybrid cloud solutions require a lot of work to integrate different types of clouds, which typically span a number of data centers and locations. This is especially difficult with public cloud deployments, for which organizations lack direct control over the infrastructure.

Which Cloud Environment Should You Choose?

The choice between public, private, and hybrid cloud solutions depends on a variety of factors, use cases, and limitations. Let's take a look at some.

Public Cloud Use Cases

The public cloud is most suitable for situations like these:

  • Small migrations from on-premises deployments to cloud deployments for proof-of-concept projects

  • Handling unpredictable demands by spinning up and down resources dynamically

  • Bringing computing closer to the end-user by leveraging data centers distributed around the world. 

  • Using a wide range of tools provided by the cloud service provider, such as auto-scaling microservices and AI tools

  • Leveraging a wide partner ecosystem and extensive tooling marketplace

  • Use cases where data privacy and application security is not paramount

Private Cloud Use Cases

A private cloud is often used in the context of:

  • Predictable workloads where the services do not have to regularly deal with spikes in demand.

  • Enterprises that require strong control and security over their IT workloads and the underlying infrastructure.

  • Long-term deployments of mission-critical applications.

Hybrid Cloud Use Cases

A hybrid cloud model is most appropriate for:

  • Organizations serving multiple verticals facing different IT security, regulatory, and performance requirements.

  • Optimizing the overall cloud investment while leveraging the advantages of both public and private cloud models.

  • An agile cloud strategy which can allow enterprises to experiment with different configurations to get the best combination of price and performance for various workloads


Whether it’s public, private, or hybrid, deploying a cloud solution does not mean reducing the work involved in maintaining IT infrastructure. It is morphing the day-to-day activities of the in-house IT teams from cloud infrastructure management to other value-adding tasks, while maintenance is outsourced to third party vendors.

Considering the complexity of hybrid cloud architectures and the abundance in choice of public and private clouds, you should always pay special attention to how the cloud will be managed. This can be streamlined by employing an adequate cloud management tool to gain control over all parts of the cloud estate from a single platform.

Whether it’s connecting multiple public clouds or unifying an on-premises private cloud with a public cloud, Divio offers enterprises a consistent interface for managing all cloud activities from a single platform. To find out more, arrange a demo of the cloud management platform.