March 9, 2021

What's the Difference Between Private, Public, Colocation and Hybrid Cloud?

by: Align

Grappling with the decision to move to the private cloud or public cloud? Not sure if colocation or hybrid infrastructure would provide you with the IT infrastructure that you need?

We’ve outlined the differences between various cloud offerings to help you determine which solution is the best fit for your business.  

Private Cloud

In the case of the private cloud, services and infrastructure are dedicated to a single organization. Resources are not shared, and thus data storage, hardware and network pools cannot be accessed by other businesses in the same data center. In this case, the client is utilizing a vendor’s off-site IT infrastructure, the vendor owns the hardware and the client will continue to be the owner of their data.

A major benefit of a private cloud environment is that in some cases it may offer increased security and, unlike the public cloud, computing resources, storage and networking components can be customized. Private cloud serves the needs of designated users and is highly controlled. 

Healthcare providers, financial and trading organizations, banks and law firms may utilize the private cloud as they must conform to strict regulations, including security and data privacy standards. However, security advancements in the public cloud, in addition to it's numerous advantages, have motivated many of these groups to move away from private models and towards public cloud computing.

Public Cloud

The public cloud provides IT services and infrastructure off-site over a network that is open to the public. A customer's hosted applications share storage and computing resources with other tenants on a single host, in a multi-tenant architecture.

This is a great solution for organizations looking to reduce upfront expenditures while maintaining benefits such as reliability, scalability, security and flexibility. Benefits of utilizing the public cloud include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Public cloud environments provide customers with scalability, without compromising security.
  • Another advantage of the public cloud is the speed at which IT resources can be deployed.
  • Customers have the freedom to only pay for the server resources that are consumed, which is ideal for small- to medium-sized businesses.

While most cloud providers have addressed issues associated with noisy neighbors—hosts who end up monopolizing computing resources—there is sometimes an obstacle to shared tenancy in the cloud. To avoid such cases, ensure you exercise adequate due diligence when meeting with cloud service providers and address this point.

TIP: When evaluating companies that offer public cloud services, consider asking them if they meet industry-specific regulations. For example, can they provide the compliance, or data sovereignty that many institutions require by law? 


Colocation falls into the private cloud family. With colocation services, firms are required to purchase their own servers, networking equipment, software and rack space, all of which reside in a data center. With this option, clients have control over the brand and configuration of server hardware and are responsible for the installation, maintenance, software licensing and backups.

The cost of retaining a colocation services provider includes power, climate control, storage and bandwidth. Colocation may be preferable over private cloud, if you are partial to using specific hardware. Some organizations choose colocation simply because they lack the space for the physical hardware, and they can cover the costs of the maintenance that colocation services can provide.   

Hybrid  Cloud

A hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment that utilizes a combination of various deployments. Many enterprises combine public and private cloud services, colocation and on-premise IT. A hybrid environment may be suitable if the data across your environment have different levels of sensitivity.

This type of deployment would enable you to leverage the public cloud for its flexibility and scalability and private cloud for data related to business-critical functions. It is worth noting that a hybrid environment usually involves more than one cloud provider, which inherently makes it more complex than purely private, public or colocation environments.

To add to the challenge of the complexity in combining two environments, the movement from public cloud to private cloud needs to be seamless.

Whether you are considering moving to the cloud, or are looking to make changes to your infrastructure, we recommend speaking with a cloud expert that offers advanced, innovative cloud services to discuss the best solutions to meet your business needs. 

Explore Align’s award-winning Cloud Services here.

If you'd like to learn more about the benefits of managed cloud services, read Align's blog article here or contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our cloud specialists. 

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Clouds. Image Credit: Align

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“Align is our trusted provider for all our Managed Services and cybersecurity needs. They provide us best-in-class IT services that not only help drive productivity and growth, but ensure we meet both current and evolving compliance and security requirements with ease. As consultants to financial advisors, trust and reliability are indispensable to our operations, which is why we never hesitate to refer Align to our very own client base. Align isn’t just our partner, they are an extension of our team. We look forward to entrusting them with our IT infrastructure for years to come.”

Ed Fasano - Experienced Advisory Consultants LLC