Private cloud or dedicated server: what's best for you?

By Jon Lucas, Co-founder & Director, Hyve Managed Hosting
Private cloud and dedicated servers are often mistakenly combined as one product, but each option has real differences. Which is right for your business?

Private cloud and dedicated servers are often mistakenly combined as one product, this is primarily because they both offer a complete server environment at a surface level. To the average server administrator, the differences are barely noticeable. For day-to-day operations, both can run the same software, utilise the same tools and if you’re used to using one system then you’ll seamlessly be able to switch to the other.  

Once you begin to strip it back and look at the inner workings for each, the real differences begin to shine. Neither solution is better outright than the other, instead they fit into their own respective niches. This is the important distinction businesses need to be aware of when looking to deploy either within their organisation. 

For decades now, businesses have been heavily data-driven and this is a trend that won’t be disappearing anytime soon. Data is being used to identify market trends, understand and predict customer behaviours, and allow businesses to make informed strategic decisions. Success for businesses today hinges on the ability to gather, process and store data. 

Given the business-critical importance of data, businesses need to ensure that their data is secure while remaining accessible to the teams that need it, so as to not slow down operations. This demand for accessibility has driven in a surge of uptake for cloud storage solutions, further compounded by the pandemic. So what are some of the key differences between the two and why might one be better for your business than the other? 

If it scales, you can grow

One of the key factors differentiating private cloud and dedicated servers is scalability. Private cloud utilises a virtualised system, allowing it to grow alongside a business to fit the business’s needs. This means that what can start as a modest investment can increase gradually as the organisation requires more storage and greater functionality. The benefit of private cloud is that your business isn’t responsible for the direct upkeep to infrastructure. See it more like renting, where a cloud provider is handling the tricky parts for you. 

On the topic of scalability, dedicated servers are a little different. They offer the same functionality as private cloud, in some cases they can actually be more reliable and faster. However, businesses have to invest in the physical infrastructure, are responsible for its upkeep and have to manage upgrades. For private cloud, providers will be futureproofing their business, anticipating demand and will always strive to have capacity to grow. 

If your business runs a dedicated server solution, your in-house team is responsible for that. If demand doesn’t spike as anticipated, then you could be left with an investment in hardware that isn’t required but will still need upkeep. But if a business knows precisely what it wants, it can prove valuable in terms of performance, dependability and cost-effectiveness. 

Data security

With security there is a natural argument that dedicated servers offer increased protection because it consists of a non-virtualised ‘offline’ element. Now while that may hold some truth, dedicated servers aren’t without their vulnerability. While the offline element of dedicated servers protects from the threat of outside attack, it makes the system more vulnerable to natural disasters. Fire, theft, flooding, and freak weather events all have to be taken into consideration with any system, which increases costs, and demands more time from your IT teams who need to establish and maintain backup systems. 

While private cloud services also face these potential disasters, cloud providers shoulder the responsibility for any potential downtime. Their entire job is to ensure systems remain online and will have backup and recovery systems in place, plus the expertise and time to maintain them. 

Private cloud services do face an increased threat from outside attack due to their online nature. While this can’t be avoided, it certainly shouldn’t rule out those looking to use a private cloud system, defence measures and recovery systems become more sophisticated every day making it harder for attacks to be carried out successfully. Data encryption practices also mean that in the unlikely event of an attack, many breaches yield no usable data for the attackers. 

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