A public cloud with virtual data isolation

A virtual private cloud (VPC) is an implementation of cloud computing hosted behind a corporate firewall. VPCs are managed by a cloud provider. Some offerings include automated features to allow for minimal intervention. Unlike a traditional public cloud, the provider provisions a portion of its infrastructure for a single user.
This keeps that user’s data separate from others’.

Key features

Why virtual private cloud

An icon representing the capability of a private cloud to protect data

Data isolation

Virtual private clouds offer more tools to protect data than standard, public cloud offerings.

An icon representing the capability of a private cloud to improve performance

Improved performance

VPCs provide users private, provisioned services, so they do not share processing time with other enterprises.

An icon representing the capability of a private cloud to use vendor management

Third-party management

VPCs do not require proprietary infrastructure, unlike private cloud implementations. A vendor manages infrastructure on the user’s behalf.

Considerations when using virtual private cloud

  • Cost

    Provisioning VPCs for a single user make them more expensive than typical, shared public cloud services. Automation can help offset cost.

  • Complexity

    Virtual private cloud installations can require a complex setup process and diligent maintenance.

IBM virtual cloud services can help protect your enterprise’s data.

  • Portability

    Moving private services between providers can be difficult. Open source options such as OpenStack can help ease the process.

  • Security

    Different organizations have different requirements for handling data. While some may need virtual privacy, others may not.

IBM virtual cloud services can help protect your enterprise’s data.

Security is a top concern of cloud adopters.

Forrester Research found that data security was the No. 1 concern (30%) for hosted private cloud adopters and planned adopters, followed by data thefts or breaches (26%).

No. 1

Security is the top concern

An IBM perspective: Virtual private cloud

A photo image of IBM IT Risk Cloud and Network Strategist Chris Dotson, contributor on Twitter. Follow him at at-sign crdotson

Chris Dotson,
IBM IT Risk Cloud and Network Strategist
Twitter: @crdotson

Many people think that cloud computing means their systems are out on the Internet for anyone to access (and attack). However, modern enterprises often use private clouds – or more commonly, virtual private clouds – to host workloads.

The term “private cloud” means that your organization owns and operates the cloud, and that only you access it. A “virtual” private cloud (VPC) shares infrastructure, but is designed to look like a private cloud. Typically, the shared data are similar to what’s shared in public cloud environments. However, in the case of a VPC, the components are configured in such a way that you appear to have an entire cloud to yourself. You will typically get your own dedicated network area, and you may even get your own physical machines and customized portal. Unlike a public cloud, where all of the machines can talk to each other by default, you often have to deliberately set up connectivity with the rest of the world.

An icon representing a public cloud
An icon representing a virtual private cloud

From a security perspective, a VPC allows you to build in multiple layers of security more easily. You can have a “back end” area and a “front end” area, where the front end takes requests from the Internet and the back end will only talk to the front end. If you’re using a service provider that allows you to have your own dedicated physical machines, you are at much lower risk from hypervisor attacks, where one virtual machine on the system can steal information from others.

A VPC can also prevent problems. Just like noisy neighbors in an apartment building can irritate you, noisy neighbors on a cloud environment can cause trouble. If you happen to end up on the same physical machine as one of these party animals, you may find that your processes run more slowly (because the neighbor is taking up all of the CPU cycles) or that your network transfers or storage transfers are slow (because the neighbor is hogging those resources).

Not all VPCs are the same, so make sure that you pick one that has the characteristics you need. However, a VPC is a great way to get many of the benefits of a truly private cloud without the headaches of running a physical data center and putting up capital for all the systems.

Learn about IBM Bluemix Private Cloud, powered by OpenStack