Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud

Learn about the differences between public and private clouds

Public cloud vs. private cloud overview

This page will cover the following to help you better understand the differences between a public cloud and a private cloud:


Over the last decade, enterprises have been shifting their technology infrastructures to the cloud because the cloud brings economies of scale, the efficiency of infrastructure standardization, and the elasticity to adjust compute power in proportion to demand. All these benefits equate to cost savings and a more nimble business model.


When considering cloud options, you first need to understand typical deployment models, which include public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and multicloud.

The models are not mutually exclusive, and many organizations adopt a combination of cloud deployment models based on their unique needs. Which model or models you should employ will depend on your workloads, use cases, available resources, and requirements for availability and privacy.

What is a public cloud?

A public cloud is the most prevalent cloud computing deployment. The term “public cloud” refers to shared, on-demand compute infrastructure delivered by third-party cloud service providers (CSPs) such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. CSPs own and manage the underlying cloud resources such as servers, software, and storage.


In a public cloud, organization tenants share access to services via the internet, and the cloud provider is responsible for maintaining the infrastructure and physical environment.


Public cloud provider services are typically subscription based, and customers pay based on the computing resources they consume.

Advantages and disadvantages of a public cloud

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of using a public cloud.


Advantages of a public cloud:

Scale and elasticity

Public clouds provide the ability to adjust computing resources up or down on the fly to meet unpredictable workload demands.


High availability and reliability

Public cloud providers offer a huge global network of data centers to ensure continuous service even in the event of an outage.


Lower IT costs

If your organization uses a public cloud, you’re spared from purchasing hardware and don’t have to incur the expense of installing and managing software yourself, which lowers IT costs. And because you only pay for what you use, you don’t end up paying for excess capacity.


Focus on core competencies

By offloading the burden of managing and maintaining hardware and software, your organization can focus its resources on business innovation instead of on technical infrastructure.


Disadvantages of a public cloud:

Lack of control

When your organization offloads hosting and management of infrastructure, you essentially pass off to the cloud provider control over some things like security and granular configurations.


Security considerations

While the top cloud service providers offer stringent security, it comes as a “shared responsibility” that requires your organization to use specific cloud security services to ensure application and network security.


Unpredictable subscription costs

Unpredictable workloads can quickly become more expensive than expected when they experience unplanned spikes that consume excessive computing resources.


Data governance

Public clouds that run distributed computing environments across a global ecosystem may jeopardize compliance with data privacy and data residency regulations. This can be a serious consideration for organizations that handle sensitive data.

What is a private cloud?

A private cloud describes computing and storage infrastructure that is used by and dedicated to a single organization. With a private cloud, the data center is typically located on premises or co-located in an off-site data center. The hardware and software are owned and maintained by the organization, and services are accessed over a private network.


Because it is owned and managed by a single organization, a private cloud can be optimized specifically for their requirements, and it allows them to run workloads in complete compliance with data privacy regulations.

Advantages and disadvantages of a private cloud

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of using a private cloud.


Advantages of a private cloud:


With a private cloud, your organization can customize the environment to precisely meet your specific business needs.



Because your organization owns and manages the infrastructure and physical hardware, you have the utmost control over the entire environment.



A private cloud is a dedicated environment with resources that are not shared and can be used only by your organization.



A private cloud helps your organization ensure compliance with data privacy regulations by allowing you to tailor and monitor security for your applications.


Disadvantages of a private cloud:

IT costs

Because your organization manages the entirety of the infrastructure (including hardware, software, and networking), you must assume the deployment and maintenance costs, which can be substantial depending on the workloads supported.


Scale limitations

Because compute and storage resources are limited to what your organization has procured, your private cloud typically offers a more finite resource footprint than a public cloud service provider. This makes it challenging, expensive, or even impossible to meet unpredictable demands.


Specialized skills are required

Maintaining a private cloud infrastructure goes beyond installing servers and networking, and requires the skills of specialists who are experts in cloud concepts, models, and technologies.

What are hybrid clouds and multiclouds?

Hybrid cloud and multicloud deployments are cloud architectures that combine public and/or private clouds in different ways to meet specific needs and requirements.


Hybrid cloud

A hybrid cloud blends the public and private cloud models. An organization runs some of its workloads in the public cloud for scale and elasticity and runs other workloads in a private cloud for greater control and data privacy. This mix offers the flexibility to accommodate unpredictable workloads for public-facing applications while also providing control and data governance for applications that handle sensitive data.


For example, an organization might host its customer-facing web apps and field sales tools on a public cloud for greater scalability and the ability to throttle resources up or down according to traffic. Other applications, such as HR apps or financial systems, would run in a private cloud for better privacy, data security, and control.



Multicloud refers to a cloud architecture that spans multiple cloud storage technologies and infrastructure providers and may include both private and public clouds. Organizations use multicloud architectures to:

  • Support multiple regions – different regions may be supported by different cloud providers
  • Reduce risk – with a multicloud architecture, an organization can better ensure business continuity by rolling application processing from one provider to another in case of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) failure
  • Avoid public cloud vendor lock-in – by running workloads on different cloud provider infrastructures, an organization can more easily and quickly transition from one provider to another if necessary

Choosing the right database for cloud computing

Given the distributed nature of cloud computing, and the various models your organization can employ, it’s critical to make sure the database you choose works well with cloud architectures.


Important considerations include:


Distributed architecture and automatic data replication

Your data platform must be able to balance and distribute your data footprint across nodes, clusters, and regions to support the various cloud models and strategies. Automatic data replication provides redundancy, failover, and disaster recovery, as well as the consistency of data updates and changes being reflected instantly across the ecosystem.


Data isolation

In order to meet data privacy regulations, the database you use must be able to route and isolate data to the specific regions that meet your compliance requirements for that particular data.


Local proximity data processing

To deliver the best possible user experience, a database must support the ability to distribute and store data in specific regions or zones that are nearest to a given concentration of users. This proximity reduces latency and provides superior performance for apps.



Most cloud providers support containerization and orchestration for efficient and repeatable deployment of software solutions on their infrastructures. You should make sure your database is cloud native and able to take advantage of cloud provider containerization and orchestration features such as EKS for AWS or AKS for Azure.

Why Couchbase is the best option for your cloud strategy

Couchbase is ideally suited for cloud computing strategies and fits seamlessly into the various cloud models. Couchbase provides:


A geo-distributed, cloud-native architecture

Couchbase can be deployed on premises, in a private cloud, and across public cloud providers, including AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Couchbase provides elastic scalability and a shared-nothing architecture, stores data as flexible JSON documents, and supports SQL, making development easier and more familiar. Couchbase also provides full support for containerization and orchestration with Couchbase Autonomous Operator.


Cross data center replication (XDCR)

Couchbase XDCR is a built-in feature that automatically replicates data across Couchbase clusters, regardless of which cloud model they’re deployed on. This critical feature delivers:

  • Failover and disaster recovery – if a cluster fails for any reason, a separate cluster in the deployment can take over processing of the data
  • Specificity – filters and flexible replication controls allow an organization to choose exactly where data replication flows (e.g., syncing all user data across every cluster, but leaving geo-specific information isolated to corresponding regional clusters)
  • Integrity – built-in conflict resolution and auto-recovery ensure data replication is accurate every time
  • Efficiency – only data that is new or changed is replicated
  • Data isolation – replication data flow can be controlled to route and store data where it’s best suited for the use case and audience, such as within a specific locale for performance or data privacy needs


Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS)
Couchbase Capella™ is a fully managed and hosted version of Couchbase that runs on AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, effectively offloading management of the database and freeing up the organization to focus on its core business. Capella provides a single control plane that manages clusters across data centers, regions, and cloud providers. It also uses XDCR to replicate data across clusters for consistency and integrity.


Couchbase was designed from its inception to be a cloud-native, developer-friendly, and enterprise-class database platform for modern applications. We’re ready to support your organization’s cloud computing strategies, be they public, private, hybrid, or multicloud.


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