A private cloud is a cloud computing environment that is exclusively dedicated to a single organisation and is not shared with other organisations. It is built on the organisation's own infrastructure, either on-premises or in a datacentre, and is designed to provide the benefits of cloud computing such as scalability, self-service provisioning, and automation, while maintaining the organisation's control and security over its data and applications.
Private clouds are owned and managed by the organisation itself or a third-party provider, and this gives the organisation more control over the infrastructure, security, and compliance, as well as the ability to customise the environment to meet its specific needs. Private clouds can be deployed using various technologies such as virtualisation, containerisation, and software-defined networking, and can be accessed through a self-service portal or an API.
Private clouds are often used by enterprises, government agencies, and other organisations that require a high level of security, compliance, and customisation in their cloud environments. Private clouds can be cost-effective, as they can help reduce capital expenditures and operational costs, while enabling the organisation to achieve greater agility, scalability, and efficiency in its IT operations. In addition, private clouds can help organisations meet regulatory requirements and address data privacy concerns, as they provide greater control over data and application security.
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, organisations can implement chargeback tools to track computing usage and ensure the business only pays for the resources or services they’re using.
Private cloud enables 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.
Private cloud supports 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. Private cloud fosters agility by enabling fast and easy resource access, simplifying deployments, supporting traditional and cloud-native application models, and delivering meaningful automation.
Private cloud increases 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.
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 utilisation 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.
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.
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.
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.
Supporting private cloud with hyperconvergence
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
- 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?
Businesses are increasingly moving to private cloud computing because of the benefits it offers in terms of security, control, and customisation. Private clouds provide a dedicated environment that is not shared with other organisations, giving businesses complete control over their data and applications. This level of control allows businesses to customise the environment to meet their specific needs and regulatory requirements. In addition, private clouds can provide a higher level of security than public clouds, as businesses can implement their own security policies and measures to protect their data.
Another reason why businesses are moving to private cloud computing is the ability to reduce costs. Private clouds can be deployed on-premises or in a datacentre, which can eliminate the need for businesses to purchase and maintain their own IT infrastructure. This can lead to significant cost savings, as businesses can leverage the infrastructure and expertise of a third-party provider. Private clouds also provide greater flexibility in terms of resource allocation, allowing businesses to scale up or down as needed without having to invest in additional hardware or software.
Finally, businesses are moving to private cloud computing because of the increased agility and innovation it enables. Private clouds provide businesses with self-service capabilities, enabling them to quickly provision resources and launch new applications. This can help businesses stay competitive by enabling them to rapidly respond to changing market conditions and customer needs.
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 organisation 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.