Private cloud services will soon take over from the ‘public’ cloud
by Robert Rutherford, managing director at QuoStar Solutions
Monday, July 23, 2012
Although there are many different definitions for cloud computing, it essentially means that your applications, systems and data are stored at a remote location and accessed via a network connection, typically over the internet, rather than in your own office. This model has already delivered some compelling benefits to a large number of companies, including greater flexibility, easier collaboration across different sites, and more effective cost control.
Most recently, however, businesses have been trying to obtain these same benefits by using their own ‘private’ cloud, which basically follows the same model, but is operated solely for a single organisation. There are many advantages to using a private cloud in this way. For a start, it gives most IT teams exactly what they’ve always wanted – control – since a private cloud can give the IT department a lot more power and freedom than it would have with a more traditional ‘public’ cloud model.
For end-users, a private cloud will also be appealing because of its familiarity, since the technologies being accessed via the private cloud will often be the same as the company’s internal systems, especially in areas like virtualisation, storage presentation, operating systems and so on.
Private cloud solutions are also extremely flexible and configurable in terms of operating systems, storage, applications, access, security, continuity, and so on, and can be integrated with other applications and systems more easily. Public clouds, on the other hand, are typically more rigid in their integration, as they often depend upon complex APIs and other software development tools to work properly.
A private cloud can also be vendor neutral, and generally considered to be more secure, since businesses can typically implement any security systems they like into this kind of environment. In terms of price, public clouds are typically operated on an hourly charge basis, whereas private clouds are typically charged on a flat per-resource per month basis, and so that is worth keeping in mind too. In many cases, having easy access to a flat resource is often better and more cost-efficient for corporate IT, as the workloads tend to be more static and easier to control. In a large percentage of cases, a public cloud solution will quickly become expensive once a business starts building in additional resources and functionality.
So are there any disadvantages of a private cloud solution? Well, possibly. At the moment, it’s generally quicker and easier to ramp up resources on demand on a public cloud platform, but this is changing as more private platforms allow companies to flex on the fly, and to ‘burst’ in peak times.
Also, because there is quite a low-barrier to entry to create a private cloud platform, a massive number of IT and communications companies are already jumping in to offer this service. This sudden influx of resellers can often be risky for customers and many companies could get burnt, especially if there are no experienced consulting, engineering or service teams on-hand to make sure that the solution fits the needs of the business.
Even so, the option of a private cloud is likely to dominate the market in the months and years ahead, and is likely to be especially popular with corporate IT teams. Microsoft will still be the main player in terms of applications and operating systems for the foreseeable future, especially as it has freed itself from the hardware and has a worldwide customer base, skilled up to deliver solutions and services on their platforms.
To get true value out of a private cloud, businesses will need to have access to a reasonable amount of technical skill. In fact, the more capable the business is in terms of its IT skills, the more it will get out of a private cloud solution, since a private cloud is really ‘what you make of it’, whereas the public cloud is generally a case of ‘you get what you’re given.’
There are actually clear benefits to be had with both options. The first step – as always – will be to determine the specific needs of your business, and then choose accordingly.