As cloud computing grows in popularity among businesses both large and small, so too does the debate over which platform is most cost-effective and feasible for launching applications.

The separate debates, which were recently hosted by Stratacore and F5 Networks in Seattle, discussed the benefits of private cloud offerings over public, according to GeekWire​'s John Cook.

Amazon.com has pushed hard on marketing its public cloud platform, Amazon Web Services, for any size business, especially after its re:Invent conference in Las Vegas last month. However, one theme appeared commonplace among the various panelists that attended the debates – the cost and security implications associated with public clouds.

The high price for public cloud services
While many analysts expect AWS's value to soar to $50 billion by 2015, the cost-cutting tactics of such services, including Windows Azure, to entice potential customers doesn't highlight the fact that public cloud expenses can quickly add up.

"I've looked at doing other businesses purely in AWS, and if you are not ready to be able to spin up and spin down, it is probably not as cost effective as doing it yourself," said Joe Specht, senior director of system infrastructure at Tableau Software, according to the source. "In addition, it takes a lot to get there to spin up and spin down. You have to spin it up, monitor it, make sure it is doing what is supposed to be doing, and when it is not, you have to tell it not to do that anymore."

At the other debate, hosted by F5 Networks, attendees offered similar warnings about migrating IT operations to large public cloud service providers. Eamon Gavin, director of network and data center operations for AllRecipes.com, noted the skyrocketing costs that can hit unsuspecting AWS cloud users when companies experience heavy traffic and high bandwidth.

"We see that all around town, people who have deployed Amazon, and they are like holy s—: 'I've got to bring this all back in house, because we can't afford this," said Gavin.

For companies considering the move to cloud environments, it's critical that they look closely and fully grasp the economics of public platforms – both upfront and monthly costs associated with developing solutions.

Panelists at both debates acknowledged that many businesses that opt for public cloud services usually do it for all the wrong reasons, and it's absolutely necessary to be clear on what an organization is trying to achieve by utilizing cloud platforms. While security and reliability are important factors in regard to choosing private or public offerings, cost remains the key consideration.

Enterprise-class cloud computing continues to be the preference of larger companies, especially since the enterprise hasn't truly embedded itself within the public cloud to date. Rather, large workloads in data centers and virtualization platforms have pushed enterprises in the direction of private cloud platforms. Hosted private cloud environments provide large organizations with significant elasticity and an opportunity to economically cope with massive workloads that could otherwise impose heavy costs on companies using public cloud services. As Gavin noted, this is a main reason why some enterprises are using the private cloud for repatriation of public cloud workloads.