Private cloud: The different options, the benefits and the drawbacks

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If you’re considering a cloud-based infrastructure for your business, you might have heard about private cloud and be wondering whether it’s the solution for you. Before you make that decision, it is, of course, important to know what “private cloud” means.

Broadly defined, a private cloud is a cloud environment that is only available to select users. In essence, it is a cloud solution that is especially tailored and dedicated to the needs of one organisation.

Companies often opt for private cloud if they want an extra level of security and data protection as well as a high degree of command over their cloud computing and storage needs.

However, private clouds are generally more costly than other cloud infrastructures. It is therefore vital to consider whether your company needs a private cloud infrastructure and, if so, what type is best suited to your organisation’s needs.

With these things in mind, in this piece we’ll briefly outline the different types of private cloud, the advantages private cloud offers, as well as some potential drawbacks to bear in mind.

Types of private cloud

1 – On-Premise Private Cloud

An on-premise private cloud is a cloud environment that is hosted entirely internally by the company that uses it. The organisation in question is in command of the full stack, taking responsibility for everything from hardware and management to the upkeep of an internal data centre.

Often, an on-premise private cloud will utilise a common architecture built on a framework such as OpenStack or Eucalyptus. However, this would represent the extent of a third-party’s involvement in an on-premise private cloud, with the management falling entirely to the company’s IT team or division.

2 – Hosted Private Cloud

A hosted private cloud, also known as a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), is a private cloud solution from a public cloud provider. With a VPC, a third-party public cloud provider will oversee some aspects of the deployment of the environment and the company’s IT team will work within the boundaries of the provider’s cloud infrastructure.

Essentially, a VPC solution is a private cloud hosted within a public cloud data center. The third-party provider will handle the security of data in the VPC and the business will be able to make use of the provider’s scalability options and support team etc.

3 – On-Premise Infrastructure from Public Cloud Vendor

Some public cloud providers will offer a limited version of their service that can be hosted outside of their data centers on a company’s private, on-premise infrastructure. The third-party provider will typically control the service’s design, development and deployment.

This solution allows the company to synchronise their on-premise architecture to a public cloud, essentially giving the company a private component of a hybrid cloud, tethered to the provider’s public cloud.

This can enable workloads to be migrated between the on-premise infrastructure and the public cloud using a single control plane. This allows a company to store more sensitive data on their private cloud, while taking advantage of the capacity of a public cloud for bigger tasks.

The benefits of private cloud

Security – Utilising a private cloud can enable a company to add an extra layer of security to their cloud infrastructure, for example through using a firewall for an on-premises data center.

The security credentials of a private cloud were recently demonstrated by the news that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had signed a 23-month private cloud contract worth £17.75 million with Microsoft for a bespoke Azure-based private infrastructure.

Announcing the deal, the MoD said: “The MoD requirement mandates data sovereignty and reliability and this non-negotiable requirement can only be supported by Microsoft for these services at this scale”

Flexibility – Virtualisation tools offered by private cloud solutions, such as composable infrastructure, can make it easier for companies to scale up or down as demand dictates.

Data sovereignty – If a company has a global reach, utilising on-premise infrastructures can enable it to abide by data sovereignty laws by ensuring that data is hosted in its mandated country. This will also allow a company to make sure all necessary users can access the data, while maintaining security standards.

Customisation and Control – Private cloud solutions can enable a company to build their cloud environment up to their specifications without necessarily having to rely on an existing, public or third-party infrastructure. This also enables the organisation to maintain complete control over its mission-critical applications.

The drawbacks of private cloud

Cost – Arguably the main drawback to going with a private cloud environment is the high cost. This is especially true for companies that opt for an on-premise private cloud solution.

Firstly, there is the purchase price of the equipment required to run an on-premise cloud. Should the organisation wish to scale-up their capacity, this will also require further expenditure on pricey hardware.

Then the operational costs, such as powering and cooling the equipment, and the labour costs that a company will incur from having to maintain its own system, rather than relying on a vendor to carry out maintenance etc.

If a company opts for a hosted private cloud service, this is also likely to come at a premium compared to the price a vendor would charge for a public cloud infrastructure.

Value – Once a company has invested in a private cloud environment, one of the key challenges becomes optimising the resources they’ve invested in or, in the case of a hosted option, the service they are paying for.

Forgotten or otherwise idle workloads can degrade the value that a private cloud solution is bringing to a business, potentially undermining the success of such a significant investment.

Investing in a private cloud for your company may sound like an extreme step to take, but there are more private cloud options than you might think. Depending on your business’ size, needs and goals, one of the types of private cloud we’ve discussed in this piece may suit your company perfectly. If so, then doing your research and investing the time and money in doing it right could be well worth it.

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