Private cloud is a cloud computing environment dedicated to a single customer. It combines many of the benefits of cloud computing with the security and control of on-premises IT infrastructure.
Private cloud (also known as an internal cloud or corporate cloud) is a cloud computing environment in which all hardware and software resources are dedicated exclusively to, and accessible only by, a single customer. Private cloud combines many of the benefits of cloud computing—including elasticity, scalability, and ease of service delivery—with the access control, security, and resource customization of on-premises infrastructure.
Many companies choose private cloud over public cloud (cloud computing services delivered over infrastructure shared by multiple customers) because private cloud is an easier way (or the only way) to meet their regulatory compliance requirements. Others choose private cloud because their workloads deal with confidential documents, intellectual property, personally identifiable information (PII), medical records, financial data, or other sensitive data.
By building private cloud architecture according to cloud native principles, an organization gives itself the flexibility to easily move workloads to public cloud or run them within a hybrid cloud (mixed public and private cloud) environment whenever they’re ready.
Private cloud is a single-tenant environment, meaning all resources are accessible to one customer only—this is referred to as isolated access. Private clouds are typically hosted on-premises in the customer's data center. But, private clouds can also be hosted on an independent cloud provider’s infrastructure or built on rented infrastructure housed in an offsite data center. Management models also vary—the customer can manage everything itself or outsource partial or full management to a service provider.
Single-tenant design aside, private cloud is based on the same technologies as other clouds—technologies that enable the customer to provision and configure virtual servers and computing resources on demand in order to quickly and easily (or even automatically) scale in response to spikes in usage and traffic, to implement redundancy for high availability, and to optimize utilization of resources overall.
These technologies include the following:
In addition, private cloud users can adopt cloud native application architectures and practices—such as DevOps, containers, and microservices—that can bring even greater efficiency and flexibility and enable a smooth transition to a public cloud or hybrid cloud environment in the future.
Building a private cloud makes it possible for all enterprises—even those in highly regulated industries—to avail themselves of many of the benefits of cloud computing without sacrificing security, control and customization. Specific advantages of private cloud include the following:
The chief disadvantage of private cloud is the higher cost, which can include the cost of purchasing and installing new hardware and software and the cost of managing it (which may involve hiring additional IT staff.) Another disadvantage is somewhat limited flexibility—once an organization invests in hardware and software for its private cloud, adding capacity or new capabilities requires additional purchases. Virtual private cloud and managed cloud services (see below) can lessen these disadvantages to a degree.
Public cloud is a multi-tenant cloud environment, where the same computing resources are shared among multiple customers—sometimes hundreds or thousands of them. In public cloud, an independent cloud services provider owns and maintains the infrastructure, and access to resources is offered on a subscription basis or via pay-per-use pricing. The model is analogous to the way we purchase utility services, such as access to a municipal water supply or electric power in our homes.
Public cloud sacrifices much of the control and security of private cloud, but provides significant benefits in exchange:
For a closer look at public cloud, see the following video:
A hybrid cloud integrates public and private cloud infrastructures. In this model, the two types of cloud are joined together into a single, flexible infrastructure, and the enterprise can choose the optimal cloud environment for each individual application or workload. To make best use of this type of cloud computing, an enterprise must rely on technologies and orchestration tools that allow it to move workloads seamlessly across the two environments in order to meet performance, cost, compliance, and security requirements.
A hybrid cloud can enable an ideal division of labor—an enterprise can keep sensitive data and applications that can’t easily be migrated to the cloud in its on-premises data center, while using the public cloud for access to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications and any additional platform, storage, or compute capacity it might need. It’s this ‘best-of-both-worlds” approach that drives a continued increase in hybrid cloud adoption—81% of respondents to a recent Gartner survey (link resides outside ibm.com) indicated they work with multiple public cloud infrastructure providers and management models.
A virtual private cloud (VPC) is a service from a public cloud provider that creates a private cloud-like environment on public cloud infrastructure. In a VPC, virtual network functions and security features give a customer the ability to define and control a logically isolated space in the public cloud, mimicking the private cloud’s enhanced security within a multi-tenant environment.
VPC customers can benefit from the public cloud’s resource availability, scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, all while retaining much of the security and control of private cloud. In most cases, a VPC will be less expensive to build and simpler to manage than an on-premises private cloud.
See the following video for a deeper dive into VPC:
Several vendors are now offering fully managed private cloud solutions. This model differs from VPC in that a managed private cloud is a single-tenant environment. Responsibility for managing and maintaining the infrastructure is outsourced to a third-party service provider.
The physical hardware usually resides in the service provider’s data center, although vendors also offer management services for infrastructure located in an enterprise’s own data center. Managed private clouds allow for greater customization than is possible in a multi-tenant environment and incorporate the usual security benefits of a private cloud but are more expensive than self-managed infrastructures.
Also known as internal cloud storage, private cloud storage entails drawing upon cloud service delivery models to supply storage to an enterprise. Data is stored within the data center on a dedicated infrastructure, but access is delivered to business units—and possibly partner organizations—as a service. This allows the enterprise to take advantage of some of cloud computing’s benefits—such as elasticity and rapid provisioning—while retaining a single-tenant architecture.
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