It seems everyone is considering a move to the cloud, but two things are holding a lot of people back:
1) Security, and
2) Loss of control.
Private cloud environments can deliver the scalability, flexibility, and availability you get with a general public cloud product (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Dropbox, etc.), but directly addresses those two important hurdles—while also offering other advantages.
A private cloud uses the same technology as a public cloud platform: virtualization via hypervisors (like VMWare, Hyper-V, Xen, or KVM), and distributed or centralized common storage systems. These core technologies give cloud services their primary benefits of scalability, flexibility, and availability; they can be used in a dedicated environment, for the use of a single company, division, or person. This environment is not shared with other users, giving one party complete control and insight into the entire solution. A private cloud environment can be housed in your own office or data center, but there are also service providers that can design, engineer, implement, manage, and host these solutions for you.
The number one concern of people moving to the cloud is security, which is one of the primary reasons to utilize a private cloud. With a private cloud, you know exactly where your data is, and where it is flowing, at all times. You’re not dealing with a “black box” of hardware, but with a dedicated, known solution. A private cloud solution can also utilize all of the security tools you’re familiar with; firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), web applications firewalls (WAF), virtual private networks (VPN), and others. You don’t need to re-invent your security practices to move to a private cloud as you would with the public cloud.
Beyond security, private clouds offer numerous other advantages, because you still have control. When building a private cloud, you can adjust every component, setup your own requirements, and build a solution that fits your specifics needs. Whatever your performance (computing, IO, throughput, etc.), availability, and compliance needs, there is a private cloud option.
Essentially, anything is possible: you can tie into existing systems, utilize wide arrays of hardware and software (including the same software you’re already using), and more. You aren’t limited to what a specific public cloud provider can offer.
However, there is so much flexibility that it can often become its own problem, unless you find the right partner to walk you through.
Since all resources are dedicated to you, there are some limits to the scalability of the system. In comparison, Amazon has tens of thousands of servers available on their public cloud that are usable in an instant; the private cloud doesn’t deliver instantaneously. But, the truth is, most companies don’t need that level of scalability. If you know what your resource needs are, and simply need to scale at a reasonable pace, then a private cloud can still be a fit for you.
In addition, a private cloud has a higher entry cost. While you can get a single public cloud VM or cloud storage solution for just a couple dollars a month, you should plan to spend at least several hundred dollars a month for a hosted cloud solution, or several thousand dollars for an in-house solution. If you’re already spending (or looking to spend) that much on a public cloud solution, you should consider private cloud instead.
To get you started, Steadfast would be extremely happy to give you some free consulting time and talk through your options. Whether you want an in-house or hosted private cloud, we’re happy to help you figure out what works best for you.