A private cloud is a cloud deployment that is dedicated for a single customer or organization and resides in the data center in organization’s premises or hosted in the data center of a private cloud service provider. Unlike public clouds that share same infrastructure of the public cloud service provider and is consumed by multiple customers, private cloud confines entirely to the owner business domain. It may be managed by either the business itself through the in-house IT team, or managed by the service provider or a 3rd party administrator. Private clouds offer enhanced security compared to the shared public cloud that is accessed by multiple customers. Private cloud offers other advantages also similar to public cloud, like automation, scalability, flexibility, fault tolerance, high availability, rapid and on-demand provisioning etc.
Public clouds have the cost advantage during initial stages over private clouds due to the former’s sharing of infrastructure feature. But there are other factors related to the nature of the business and its IT requirements that make private clouds suitable for them over public clouds. A good percentage of SME and big businesses need a cloud platform that is dynamic, mission-critical, and highly secure and also that offers enterprise level scalability and up-time. A private cloud that is well secured behind enterprise firewalls and on which the organization has direct control, satisfies these requirements. Organizations that have existing on-premise data centers can transform them to host their private clouds without much effort to fulfill the above needs.
Private cloud and security
The private cloud servers are normally hosted inside the organizational boundaries or hosted in a data center of the service provider. In both cases, the data access and security protocols are in compliance with the organizational policies and security guidelines. The communication network as well as physical and logical security implementations can be controlled and configured to suit the organizational needs. Access to the private cloud resources is restricted to the organizational designated delegates and hence has higher data integrity and isolation from external world. Organizations can decide the best possible security hardware and configuration for their private clouds. Also they can bring in and customize additional layers of security as per their security policy and planning.
Customization of the cloud components
For the private cloud, the organization can decide about, select and customize various components like computational CPUs, memory, volumes, load balancers, network components, identity and access services etc. according to their needs and objectives. Additionally the level of security, automation, resource pool capacity etc. can be customized and optimized to achieve the desired capabilities.
Modern business computing world has strict compliance rules and regulations like HIPAA, PCI-DSS etc. to be implemented in business application design and communication. This is for achieving data security, integrity and interoperability between diverse applications across business domains. In case of an auditing by a standards organization, private clouds can be easily made compliant to the prescribed standards to achieve the certification.
Performance and reliability
You can setup the best possible combination of hardware, middleware and software needed for your business needs in a private cloud. Since you have spent for the infrastructure, it only takes a marginal cost to include hardware and software resources needed to deliver maximum performance. The number of CPU cores, whether it is 4 or 100, the RAM, whether it is 1 or 500 GB, the replicated High Availability HDD storage, whether it is 5000 or 50000 GB, the SSD storage, whether it is 1000 or 50000 GB, does not make much difference. So you can always select the most powerful configuration for high performance and availability. Since you are in control of monitoring and administering the cloud, you can ensure high reliability of your private cloud through proper configuration, maintenance, capacity planning and load balancing. You will not limited to the public cloud provider’s chosen hardware or no need to pay for enhanced performance, under the pay as you go scheme or reserved instance scheme. You will experience the flexibility to deploy and consume your own resources in your own decided workflow without bothering about hardware sharing or resource outage.
Business continuity with private clouds
Business continuity has diverse dimensions and impacts when your business is compared with the public cloud provider. Your business focuses on the interest of its own along with that of the contractors, stakeholders and partners. With this collaborative environment, it is crucial to ensure business continuity to the maximum level, through 99.99% up-time, uninterrupted and robust delivery of services and continuous infrastructure availability. On the other side, there is no guarantee that the public cloud provider, with his own infrastructure, the vast customer base, resource contention, management overheads, technology lock-ins, and public regulations can assure you the business continuity that you needs. It’s not only limited to operational continuity without downtime, but also the continuity of overall cloud business owned by the provider. There can be transfers, mergers, acquisitions, upgrades that can impact your deployment etc. These all can produce effects on your business continuity. On the other side, your dedicated private cloud guarantees you the business continuity and uptime tailored to your business policies and operational requirements. This flexibility and privilege is possible because you can continuously monitor, analyze, scale and restructure your private cloud in the direction that ensures your business continuity.
Cost factors for private clouds
Since organizations need to setup dedicated infrastructure for their private clouds or hire dedicated infrastructure from a private cloud service provider, the initial investment needed will be higher than public cloud offerings. But over a period of time, when the private cloud usage and its benefits start rising, the cost benefits of private cloud overtakes that of the public cloud expenses. The cost models of public cloud like pay-as-you-go and revised instances are not applicable to private cloud since the usage, irrespective of its quantity and the allocation and consumption of the compute, storage, memory and networking resources are independent of cost constraints. This is because the consumption and provisioning has its lower and upper bounds included in the initial cost of setup and deployment of the private cloud. The nominal costs that arise during operational stages are mainly for staff resources, consumption of any 3rd party services or that for infrastructure maintenance. It is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), that spans from the starting deployment stage to the entire life cycle of the private cloud platform that provides the cost benefit for organizations.
The initial cost and additional effort needed in maintaining a dedicated infrastructure may be a factor that can restrict small businesses to prefer public cloud due to its less operational costs and reduced in-house responsibilities. But when it comes to strategic, mission-critical and dynamic applications and IT environments, SMEs and enterprises can select dedicated private clouds mainly due to their increased capabilities in high availability, flexibility, control, business continuity and profit based TCO factors. Private clouds literally tailor the organization’s IT environment to the organizational backbone and hence providing a streamlined environment and space for growth and development.