Nutanix Glossary

What is a Private Cloud?

August 8, 2023 | min

A private cloud is a type of cloud computing environment that is exclusively used by a single organization. In a private cloud, the organization has complete control over the resources and infrastructure and can customize the environment to meet its specific needs. The organization can also manage and configure the private cloud to ensure that it meets the required security, compliance, and regulatory requirements.

Private clouds can provide many of the benefits of public clouds, such as scalability, flexibility, and cost savings, while also allowing the organization to maintain control and privacy over its data and applications. They are often used by large enterprises, government agencies, and other organizations with strict security and compliance requirements.

What are the benefits of a private cloud?

While there are key differences between the benefits of private, public, and hybrid clouds, a private cloud, on its own, does offer some of the main features you’ll see in a public cloud. Namely, businesses can still enjoy self-service, scalability, the ability to provision and configure virtual machines (VMs), scale resources up and down when needed, and automation to help simplify tasks.

Not to mention, organizations can implement chargeback tools to track computing usage and ensure the business only pays for the resources or services they’re actually using.

  • Enabling self-service access to resources - Many developers say the biggest impediment to their productivity is lack of access to resources. Developers and testers, for example, need easy, on-demand access to development and test environments—with up-to-date test data—to be productive. A private cloud that enables self-service access to these resources, can reduce time to market, increasing the cadence at which your company delivers new services and features. Many IT teams rely on IT service management (ITSM) services such as ServiceNow. A properly designed private cloud should deliver this benefit and integrate with any ITSM solution you use.
  • Supporting both traditional and cloud-native applications - Established enterprises often have tens or hundreds of traditional business applications that they need to continue to support, even as they make new investments in cloud-native applications. A properly designed private cloud should flexibly support both models with a common operational model and a single management console.

    Designed the correct way, a private cloud can deliver all the benefits of public clouds. Make IT operations more efficient by freeing up budget, saving staff time, and eliminating complexity. It fosters agility by enabling fast and easy resource access, simplifying deployments, supporting traditional and cloud-native application models, and delivering meaningful automation.
  • Increasing automation - As enterprises run more and more applications and services at scale, manual tasks and workflows become a huge impediment. It’s impractical, and quite likely impossible, to grow your IT staff at the same pace as infrastructure services. A properly designed private cloud should deliver this benefit and enable automation so that IT teams can deploy, operate, and scale infrastructure and application stacks with less effort, while providing IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) to empower development and business teams.
  • Facilitating data access and analysis - A private cloud should help consolidate your data and make it more accessible and easier to integrate, accelerating analysis and deepening insight, not create more silos.

What are the challenges of private cloud computing?

Despite the advantages of private cloud, there are multiple limitations that cannot be ignored. In the next section, we will explore how to address and overcome these challenges.

  • Inflexible architecture - Your private cloud may need to adapt to a variety of application needs from traditional enterprise applications to cloud-native applications. Inflexible infrastructure software and 3-tier architectures can make that difficult.
  • Complex data services - Enterprise environments typically have a need for a private cloud with block and file storage services in addition to the object storage common in the public cloud. Meeting those needs may require deploying and managing different hardware for each data service, adding cost and complexity. Separate storage pools decrease overall capacity utilization and limit flexibility. With data playing such a critical role in digital transformation, the importance of addressing this challenge shouldn’t be overlooked.
  • Too much of a good thing - Despite the control a private cloud can provide, vendors may package multiple products, create unneeded deployment and managerial complexity, and ultimately, create “shelfware.” Not to mention, businesses will experience high IT expenses thanks to licensing fees, ELAs, and more.
  • Vendor exclusivity - Private clouds running on legacy infrastructure have yet another issue: They’re locked into the virtualization provider. Regardless of the vendor or the hypervisor, customers will find themselves unwillingly glued to a single vendor’s products.
  • Multiple layers - To connect to the public cloud, businesses will need to add another software layer that is not natively integrated. Larger enterprises with multiple IT teams and specialists may be more likely to build private clouds, but the team overall will struggle with complex, ineffective tools.
  • Brittle automation - A private cloud with an inflexible architecture and complex data services inevitably makes automation harder. As a result, it is more time consuming to create automations, automation failures are more likely, and troubleshooting and maintenance is more complex.

How can hyperconvergence support private cloud?

Though private cloud has its benefits, especially in regards to security, many businesses don’t intend on only using an on-prem cloud, hoping instead to expand to a hybrid or multicloud architecture in the future. That said, many IT decision-makers have to pause that goal due to major budget constraints, keeping them from preparing for the multicloud operating model. 

That’s why it’s important businesses make sure their underlying infrastructure is well-suited to support your hybrid and multicloud initiatives, or, if they intend on sticking with a private cloud long-term, that the infrastructure delivers public cloud-like power and flexibility into the on-prem environment. But ultimately, the separate storage, servers, virtualization, and networking components in legacy, 3-tier architecture are the root of the issue.

With hyperconverged infrastructure, these separate components merge, eliminating silos. Indeed, this architectural solution supports the private cloud paradigm, providing:

  • Reliable security configurations and audits
  • Data-at-rest encryption
  • Micro-segmentation
  • Built-in data protection, backup, and disaster recovery
  • Rapid, non-disrupted deployment
  • IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS)
  • Reduced operating expenses and improved ROI

Why are more businesses moving to private cloud?

There are several reasons why more businesses are moving to private cloud environments:

  1. Greater control and customization - A private cloud environment allows businesses to have complete control over their infrastructure and resources. They can customize the environment to meet their specific needs, including security, compliance, and performance requirements.

  2. Enhanced security - Private clouds are considered to be more secure than public clouds because the organization has complete control over the security of the infrastructure and data. This is especially important for businesses that handle sensitive or confidential data.

  3. Improved performance - Private clouds are often faster and more reliable than public clouds because they are built on dedicated infrastructure. This means that businesses can expect better performance and fewer disruptions.

  4. Cost savings - Private clouds can be more cost-effective than public clouds in the long run, especially for businesses with steady workloads. This is because the organization only pays for the resources they use, and they can optimize the infrastructure to reduce costs.

  5. Compliance and regulatory requirements - Private clouds are often used by businesses that must comply with strict regulatory requirements, such as those in the healthcare or financial sectors. Private clouds allow organizations to meet these requirements while still benefiting from cloud computing.

Overall, private clouds offer businesses greater control, customization, security, performance, cost savings, and compliance than public clouds, which is why more businesses are moving in this direction.

Designing a private cloud

Designing an effective private cloud requires careful planning and consideration of your current and future needs and priorities. A private cloud for enterprise needs should be built on a foundation that can provide self-service capabilities, app-centric security, and reliable data protection, disaster recovery, and automation.

A proper foundation with those capabilities can help solve the two biggest pressing needs for any enterprise to succeed in the digital economy:

  • Increase IT efficiency
  • Enable digital innovation

A properly designed private cloud helps address both of these needs. Increasing IT efficiency is a prerequisite for accelerating innovation. A successful private cloud will free up budget. In most enterprises, traditional IT still consumes the majority of the IT budget, leaving only a small percentage to dedicate to innovation. Gartner reported that traditional IT accounted for 81% of spending on average, with just 19% going to cloud spending. Traditional spending is forecast to drop to 72% by 2022. If you can drive down spending by shifting workloads from traditional IT to private cloud, more budget becomes available to allocate elsewhere.

Frees up staff time. If your IT staff spends all of its time on infrastructure management tasks like provisioning, updates, data protection, and troubleshooting to address operational requirements and satisfy user requests, that leaves very little time or focus for innovation. Rationalizing and automating operations with a private cloud and enabling self-service so that developers and other users can satisfy more of their needs themselves can get your team off the treadmill.

Finally, it eliminates complexity. Traditional IT environments often have silos of dedicated compute and storage infrastructure around important applications like databases, an approach that is both complex and inefficient. Silos of storage for unstructured data—including file shares and object storage —add to operational complexity. Established enterprises may have heterogeneous infrastructure and technical debt dating back years. This is not only expensive, it’s a substantial barrier to innovation.

Unless you can remove the friction from your on-premises operations, your digital transformation will never be complete, and your business objectives will remain at risk.

Private cloud vs. public cloud vs. hybrid cloud

There are three general cloud deployment models: public, private, and hybrid.

A public cloud is delivered through an independent, third-party vendor. Most popularly, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure dominate the market for public cloud. Companies like these maintain compute resources that their customers can utilize when needed. Businesses who use the public cloud share these resources. This is commonly referred to as a “multi-tenant” environment.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a business can create, own, operate, and maintain their own private cloud. While there is more security in this format, on-premises cloud architectures aren’t always the most flexible or scalable because the organization must depend on the resources they already have rather than a third-party vendor’s resources.

Many businesses have realized the benefits of both public and private clouds, and have thus moved on to adopt a hybrid cloud model. In this architecture, a private cloud connects with a public cloud, letting businesses run workloads in both worlds. Commonly, the business will primarily use their private cloud environment, and then “burst” into the public cloud when needed. For a hybrid cloud model to work, there must be a high level of compatibility between the software that runs the clouds and the services used in both.

Private cloud is an on-ramp to hybrid cloud

Having a well-architected private cloud will make your hybrid cloud deployment easier and help ensure success if needed at a later time. Some of the reasons for this are just common sense. If your private cloud is burdened by the challenges mentioned earlier, IT is going to have a lot less time to devote to hybrid cloud as well. Hybrid applications that are dependent on services from your private cloud will suffer the effects of its limitations, especially performance, automation, or integration challenges. 

The right private cloud solution should actively facilitate integration with the public cloud. This includes tools for copying, replicating, or migrating VMs and data from one location to another, support for different hypervisors, and the ability to support both VMs and containers. By choosing the right private cloud solution, you effectively create an on-ramp to the hybrid cloud that makes hybrid operations easier and more cost-effective, delivering better results.

Private cloud FAQs:

How does a private cloud ensure data security and privacy?

Many organizations opt for a private cloud precisely because of data security and privacy concerns. Private cloud data is stored on an organization’s hardware and provides IT with the highest level of control over who accesses the data and how it’s used. With private cloud, organizations can implement firewalls and customize their security protocols and capabilities as desired without being limited by the requirements or guidelines of a public cloud vendor.

While the isolation of a private cloud and its dedication to a single customer can be good for security, private clouds can be attacked like any other cloud. Here are some ways you can reduce those risks:

  • Encrypt data at rest and in transit
  • Use access control features to allow only authorized users to access data
  • Make sure all software and systems stay up to date through regular patching and updates
  • Keep an eye on user activity in the private cloud to detect suspicious behaviors
  • Create regular backups of all data stored on the private cloud


What infrastructure is needed to set up a private cloud?

There are several components that make up a private cloud (components may vary based on specific vendor solution or use case):

  • Dedicated servers and storage to house all the data and applications on the private cloud
  • Virtualization platform, host servers, and hypervisor to manage, control, and distribute computing resources
  • Management console for IT to monitor, operate, and maintain the private cloud
  • Service catalog that serves as a menu of available applications and services on the cloud
  • Self-service portal for end users to access resources and data from the private cloud
  • Usage meter and billing system that measures when the private cloud is used and the charges the organization must pay


Can a private cloud integrate with existing IT systems and applications?

Private clouds are built with commodity hardware and virtualization technology, so the quick answer is that yes, they typically integrate with existing IT systems and applications. In fact, you might even be able to build a private cloud using hardware and software platforms you already use. Some organizations opt for a managed private cloud, which is deployed and managed by a third-party provider but still gives the organization complete control over how the stored data is used and shared.


How does a private cloud handle disaster recovery and data backup?

A private cloud can be a good choice for disaster recovery (DR) and data backup because it is an infrastructure that is resilient and scalable. Many organizations use their private clouds to:

  • Create and store backups and snapshots of applications and data
  • Reduce hardware dependencies through technologies such as containers and virtualization
  • Test and manage their DR posture through tools built into the cloud
  • Take advantage of orchestration and automation features to enable failback and failover measures

When deciding whether to use your private cloud for disaster recovery and/or data backups, there are two main considerations: performance and cost. You’ll need to know things such as what type of availability your private cloud offers, how long it takes to restore data yourself (or through a provider if the service is managed), and what kind of technical support is available for DR? You’ll also want to know how much it costs to store backups, what are the costs of recovering workloads in the private cloud, and what kind of fees come with failback and DR testing. 


What are the key considerations when selecting a private cloud solution and provider?

When it comes to private cloud, you can either build it yourself in-house or choose a solution from a third-party provider. Here are some things to consider when looking for a private cloud solution and provider:

  • Location – this matters in terms of regulatory compliance and data sovereignty laws. A private cloud provider could be located half a world away and could even span multiple regions with differing laws. Knowing what you’re getting and where it’s happening is vital.
  • Standard protocols used – choose a solution from a provider that uses familiar and common protocols so you are sure it will work with your existing (and future) infrastructure.
  • Depth of knowledge – if you have a highly skilled in-house IT team, you won’t need to rely on a provider’s knowledge base. However, if your team doesn’t have the appropriate skills, make sure you’re partnering with a provider that gives you the level of support and assistance you will need.
  • Automation – running a private cloud can be a lot easier with a solid foundation of automation. Find out how the solution incorporates automation and how intuitive the processes are.
  • Security – make sure to understand what security features come with the private cloud solution and what other capabilities you might need to provide in-house.
  • Support services – what type of support is available and what are standard SLAs for uptime and data recovery in case of a failure? Is there support and assistance for data migration? 

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