What is Private Cloud?
“Private cloud” refers to a cloud computing environment that is controlled by an organization and thus operates behind a corporate firewall. It can also be referred to as an “internal,” “corporate,” or “virtual private” cloud. This computing architecture ensures that only intended parties can gain access to the hosted services. The hosting and management of a private cloud environment can handled either internally or by a third-party.
The private cloud evolved from the public cloud, which allows multiple organizations to access virtualized services across public networks. This model differs from the private cloud model, which allows authorized access (usually by one organization) to services across a private network. There are of course many underlying commonalities between the two. To understand this, one can think of an organization’s administrator in the private cloud model as a kind of “public cloud service provider” who grants access to various “clients” or parties within that organization.
One reason that the private cloud evolved from the public cloud is that many industries experience heightened security concerns regarding private or mission-critical data. For example, organizations in the healthcare and financial services fields need a private cloud environment to ensure regulatory compliance and keep highly-sensitive data secure. Utilizing this implementation, these security concerns are alleviated because an organization is able to maintain more control over its proprietary data. This can be accomplished by a number of means, such as internal hosting, dedicated leased lines, and firewall access only to authorized personnel.
What Does the Private Cloud Model Look Like?
In the private cloud model, all resources are dedicated to the organization, rather than being shared. This means that servers and storage capacity can be expanded and scaled at will. Additionally, in this deployment, an organization’s virtual data center is secure and can be integrated into the organization’s own internal infrastructure. Thus, the bandwidth capacity needed can be planned and does not need to be metered—that is “pay-per-use”—as it is in public cloud. Because of this, the cost does not vary with traffic levels.
Some private cloud deployments utilize “cloud bursting” when demand-levels spike. Cloud bursting toggles non-sensitive functions to the public cloud in order to free up space for sensitive functions that need to be in the private cloud. This allows important private cloud resources to remain dedicated to sensitive functions in times of high demand.
A step further is the deployment of “hybrid clouds,” which in essence merge the public and private cloud models into one computing environment. In the hybrid cloud model, non-sensitive functions are regularly allocated to the public cloud, while sensitive functions remain in the private cloud. Though not always possible to implement, this model tends to increase efficiencies and lower costs of operation.
Why Would an Organization Use Private Cloud?
Depending on an organization’s needs, there can be a number of advantages to installing a private cloud environment. One notable benefit is that utilizing this model enables an organization’s IT infrastructure to become more agile. With private cloud, IT departments can deliver resources to individual groups within an organization with greater flexibility and customization to their changing needs. The private cloud also utilizes computing resources more efficiently, which reduces the need for extraneous resource capacity.
Another key benefit is increased reliability and improved resilience to failures in an organization’s physical infrastructure. Utilizing a private cloud model enables organizations to move their computing resources to servers unaffected by a failure when needed via virtualization and partitioning. This produces a fast, redundant network that ensures reliability and optimal uptime. Additionally, a dedicated cloud environment grants organizations a greater freedom of choice in hardware and in virtualization software, while maintaining a fixed cost regardless of traffic levels.
There is a trade-off, however. Gaining this level of centralized control over the hardware brings with it higher costs. The benefits of public cloud’s economies of scale (whereby shared resources yield lower costs) must be sacrificed. Yet an organization’s decisions regarding public vs. private cloud cannot be determined only by cost. Organizations with high workloads or strict confidentiality requirements find themselves requiring either a private or hybrid cloud deployment.
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