Public vs. Private Cloud: Which Is Best For Disaster Recovery?

Posted by Jordan Weber on Tue, Oct, 18, 2016 @ 12:10 PM

Updated: Jan 23, 2019

Setting up a reliable and secure data backup system should be high on your list of business goals.

After all, losing access to mission-critical data can be utterly disastrous for a business, potentially resulting is loss of revenue or even bankruptcy. So backup systems are very important. However, Which specific type of backup system to use is another question entirely.

Cloud technology is the cornerstone of any good data backup and disaster recovery plan. While on-premises backup devices can restore data quickly, they are vulnerable to disasters such as fire, flood, and even cyber attack. Any number of disasters at an office could result in irretrievable data loss. Therefore, keeping a second copy of your data in the cloud is an essential component of a solid disaster recovery plan.

Public Clouds and Private Clouds

Cloud storage systems are divided into two categories, public and private.

  • Public Cloud:  These are cloud-storage platforms built for commercial purposes, generally associated with large data centers. Amazon Web ServicesGoogle Drive, and Microsoft Azure are all well-known public cloud services. In a public cloud system, individual servers may contain data from multiple clients simultaneously. Public cloud providers do this to make more efficient use of their equipment.
  • Private Cloud: This is a cloud storage device that is owned and used by a single company. These devices are not accessible from outside the company network, and they only hold data for a single business. Private clouds offer a greater degree of security and control than is typically found in public cloud platforms.

Public vs. Private: Which Is Best For Small Business?

Public Cloud

Pros

More often than not, public clouds are cheaper to use and more accessible than private cloud platforms. Since public cloud providers buy thousands of servers at a time, they can pass those economies of scale down to their customers in the form of lower hosting costs. Most cloud providers like Google and Microsoft have also built mobile apps for their services, enabling users to access cloud-based data or share files from anywhere in the world.

In addition, these platforms also tend to be more secure than popular opinion would suggest. Oftentimes they also offer basic encryption as a security feature.

Cons

While public clouds do offer some degree of data protection, they are not the most secure cloud services. Working with encrypted data requires additional processor power, so cloud companies may only offer the ability to encrypt a portion of your data at a time, such as stored login names and passwords.

In terms of cost, public cloud services may appear cheaper from the outset but beware the hidden costs. For example, cloud providers may charge for storage capacity leased, even if it isn't being used. Others will charge different rates for storing and retrieving your backed up data. In other words, it's very important to read the fine print on your cloud agreement.

It's also important to remember that with the big businesses that offer public cloud backups, comes big-business customer service—i.e. a headache and a smashed phone receiver.

Private Cloud

Pros

The principal benefits of a private cloud infrastructure are security and control. Since private clouds operate entirely within corporate firewalls, you have complete control over the entire backup process, if you use encryption, if the data is ever exposed to the internet, where it’s stored and how it’s stored. Furthermore, private clouds can be completely customized to fit your organization’s specific needs, allowing you to design a unique cloud platform.

Some companies prefer to use private clouds given the sensitive nature of the data they store. Law firms, CPAs, and healthcare providers in particular often keep highly sensitive personal information about their clients. Private clouds offer these companies a high degree of security and control over how that data is accessed and stored.

Cons

However, building and maintaining a private cloud infrastructure doesn’t come cheap. The cost doesn't stop with the initial capital outlay either. Keeping a private cloud means having another pile of hardware that your IT support team must manage and support, day in and day out. You'll need to hire personnel with expertise and experience managing private cloud infrastructure.

Unfortunately the costs don't stop there. Hardware can break or become obsolete, and will eventually need to be replaced. Even the software that runs your cloud backup system will require a substantial update every few years. This all represents a significant set of costs.

Summary

As you may have guessed by now, cloud backup is not one-size-fits-all. Here are a few questions to consider when finding a cloud backup solution:

  • How much data do I need to backup? How many generations of that data do I want to keep?
  • What will my data backup needs be 3-5 years from now?
  • What types of files are we backing up? Is this information confidential or sensitive in any way?
  • Is my industry subject to regulatory requirements that dictate how confidential data is to stored?
  • What is the available budget for a backup system?
  • Do we have personnel qualified to manage our backup systems in-house?
  • Do we want to outsource this to a managed data backup provider?

Having trouble finding the answers? Seek out a small business cloud consultant or local tech support company to help out. Look for a provider that will tailor a backup solution to your specific business needs, regulatory requirements and budget.

Depending on your needs, you may find a company to build a private cloud for you, or you might end up with a managed backup provider to handle the process.

Small business IT support firms like Sagiss for example, can manage the entire backup and disaster recovery process for you. Contact us to have Sagiss run a complimentary assessment of your IT network and data backup system. 

Topics: Cloud, Data Backup and Disaster Recovery, How To DIY Guides