A private cloud is a cloud computing platform implemented within a corporate firewall. It is operated under the control of the IT department of an organization or enterprise.
Designed to provide the same benefits and features as public cloud systems, the private cloud removes several restrictions to the cloud computing model. These restrictions include:
- security concerns
- regulation compliance issues
- control over enterprise and customer data
Figure 1 shows the private cloud model.
Private Cloud Security
As stated earlier, a private cloud is implemented within the safety of a corporate firewall. Hence, it provides more control over company’s data while ensuring security. However, it poses a greater risk for data loss due to natural disaster.
Also, the major problem of a private cloud is the Return On Investment (ROI). The responsibility of running and managing a private cloud and its resources lies with the organization implementing the private cloud. It cannot assign that responsibility to a third-party cloud provider.
The popularity of private cloud was more in the early days of cloud computing when enterprises were still struggling with security and control issues. However, a recent research, ‘2014 State of Cloud Report’, conducted by RightScale, a cloud portfolio management company, indicates that the public cloud dominates the market. The reasons for the growth of public clouds are as follows:
- low operating costs
- instant scalability
- better support for changing businesses
Nevertheless, the private cloud still holds a good position in IT. An understanding of an emerging new trend in the private cloud space will give a better idea about this pattern of cloud architecture.
Private Cloud in a New Role
Nowadays, private clouds are being leveraged as points-of-control or interfaces into public clouds. These upcoming hybrid cloud/multi-cloud architectures use the following tiered approach:
- Tier 1 – private cloud
- Tier 2 – public cloud services
The private cloud links to public cloud services. The clients access cloud services using the private cloud services as the primary interface. Then, based on requirements, the private cloud leverages the services of the public cloud.
For example, consider a private cloud running on a Managed Service Provider (MSP) for an enterprise. In this case, the private cloud uses the native interface of the private cloud software to provide cloud services including storage and compute. Whereas, the resources running on the MSP’s public cloud provide support for these services.
If additional resources are required by the private cloud, it can link to the public cloud services, such as storage and compute. These public cloud services perform tasks on behalf of the request made by the private clouds, which, in turn, is handling the request of an application or end-user.
Figure 2 shows the new role of private cloud as the primary interface to the public cloud.
- When the concerns are about security and control over data, enterprises usually prefer to focus on private clouds as the primary resources for applications. Also, in some cases in which standing laws and regulations dictate where data can and cannot reside.
- Using the private cloud as the ‘public cloud controller’ allows to have is a single set of interfaces to many different public cloud providers. This provides a common layer of abstraction and thus, simplifies the use of cloud services.
- It becomes easier to implement the use of governance and security criteria. This means, that the primary focus remains on the private cloud platform and the public cloud resources are used only when needed. This ensures that no repeatable pattern of use is formed that may lead to vulnerabilities. Also, the security approaches are quite uncomplicated and straightforward.
This emerging pattern is good news for enterprises that are not yet ready to move to the public cloud, but want to support public cloud types of services. Also, this solution is not a temporary one. In fact, it offers scalability to future uses.
MSPs usually deliver public cloud connectivity as part of their infrastructure and are capable of hosting these types of hybrid clouds. Therefore, they will surely prove to be the more cost effective option.
Enterprises should take a look at this approach. Especially, those who thought that private clouds only relegated to premeditated solutions could find that private clouds now have a new role and may benefit from its features.