Keeping Your Infrastructure to Yourself – Private Cloud Pros and Cons
The public cloud is all well and good for sharing your Flickr photos, but do you want your business run there? Many companies prefer to set up a private cloud for their business. This approach isn’t for everyone; it’s got benefits and drawbacks. Here’s some basic information you can use in starting a conversation with potential cloud providers and figuring out what you really want and need.
All Those in Favor of the Private Cloud Say Aye!
According to one survey be IOUG in 2010, private cloud deployments outnumber public cloud deployments for business by a ratio of 2:1. The idea of having a cloud all to yourself has obviously captured the minds of business owners. Here are the main advantages many companies are trying to capture in choosing a private cloud:
It can be made highly secure based on your criteria for security – giving you greater physical control over your data (network isolation and secure connectivity are a big deal for military/DoD clients)
There’s no limit to how much you can customize your private cloud since it’s design is not dependent on what the average customer wants (that’s important for large and very complex organizations)
It can be used to manage compliance with strict regulatory guidelines for data privacy (e.g. HIPAA, Safe Harbor, etc.)
When is a Cloud Not a Cloud?
Some IT specialists claim that an actual private cloud isn’t a cloud in the true sense of the term. Instead, they argue that it is simply a fancy term for virtualized computing. If all the equipment/infrastructures such as servers and racks are located on site and set up behind the company’s own firewall, you’re really not bringing down the TCO that much. You’ll be limited in how burstable your computing power is as well.
Finally, your IT team will still be responsible for managing a host of administrative tasks. This may sound like a drawback, but it may actually be one of the reasons the private cloud is selling so well. Many businesses like to use people and processes they find familiar. It may be easier to convince those holding the purse strings to shell out for something that’s pretty much like what they are already using than to get them to try something completely new. Plus, they can keep using the existing equipment that they’ve already invested so much money to buy.
Proponents of public cloud offerings are quick to point out that internal risks from disloyal employees can make entrusting data to the private cloud more dangerous than having a neutral third party host your data. They also describe their public cloud services as very customizable – something that’s actually true since PaaS (Platform as a Service) is really coming into its own. Enterprise customers don’t have to use (or pay for) standard services they don’t want or need if they think they can build something better themselves in the public cloud.
Enter the Hybrid Cloud
For companies that still aren’t quite ready to expose themselves to the public cloud, many firms are now providing “semi-private” or hybrid cloud options. Amazon launched its virtual private cloud (VPC) in Europe last year. It lets you keep hosting all your data in your own data center and connects you to computing resources in the cloud. You can migrate apps like email and helpdesk tools to the cloud while keeping other items internal. Such an approach offers immediate provisioning and rapid scalability on an as needed basis. That’s just one example of hybrid IT. The permutations are endless. Some “private” clouds are even provisioned completely off-site but managed as a private, restricted, and dedicated service by a cloud computing firm with its own data centers. As large scale business customers become more familiar with what they really want, such options are likely to dominate the enterprise level cloud services arena, leaving the truly public cloud to small and mid-sized businesses.