Is a Private Cloud Really a Cloud?
We essentially have two implementation models for cloud computing: the Public cloud, what people call the real cloud, and the Private cloud, which is an implementation of the same elements and infrastructure of a Public cloud on a private level. There are a lot of arguments to be made here but let’s take things at face value. The words private and public are already biased, and private clouds were actually made because people wanted to be more secure with their data.
If you think that it will take more time and effort for the Public Cloud market to mature, meaning that Private Clouds are a better option for large companies. You are dead wrong. If you focus on the business benefits that the Cloud offers, you would certainly believe that Public Clouds are better for business and that there is little to absolutely no solid business reason to even consider a Private Cloud, much less build one.
To truly understand the limitations of the Private Cloud model, we must take the business perspective. What are the business benefits of migrating to the Cloud?
- Cloud lowers expenses. The cloud will shift this particular IT expense from capital to operational expense. This means that instead of investing in hardware, software, installation and personnel, you can pay as you go for what you need and use as an operational expense. This is not the case for Private Clouds where you need to invest on the infrastructure which might increase capital expenditure altogether.
- Cloud increases utilization while dealing with usage spikes, giving the illusion of infinite resources. The Cloud is designed to distribute resources across many users, so unless you want to setup a data center that will only be fully utilized once a month or every time an indecent picture of a celebrity is leaked, then a Private Cloud is not for you. Private Clouds are rarely fully utilized unless the company is particularly large and most or all of its divisions use this Cloud thoroughly. You might end up using only $10,000 worth of service per month from your $1 million data center, a huge waste of resources. With a Public Cloud, you can set the service to automatically scale depending on usage, so if it spikes, resources are allocated in an instant to cope with it. It’s elastic, limitless. But compare that to Private Clouds where you have an exact limit, now what happens when all of a sudden, every single computer and mobile device starts accessing the Private Cloud and it might not be able to cope because it has no links to other clouds where it may borrow resources.
- The Cloud deals in economies of scale. Large Cloud Computing providers are able to sell their services inexpensively because they are serving so many clients that the user-base actually already pays for everything, and so they can operate at razor-thin margins. But your Private Cloud does not have that luxury; you are paying for everything, even the resources that go unused.
Some of us have another term for the Private Cloud: traditional data center. We are not in the data center business, so there is no reason for us to build one, not in terms of economy, not in terms of technical, and certainly not in terms of security.
By Abdul Salam
He has recently co-authored: Deploying and Managing a Cloud Infrastructure: Real-World Skills for the CompTIA Cloud+ Certification (Wiley).