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A very private affair?

Neil Barnett, Product Manager for Hosting & Cloud at Daisy Group plc, discusses private cloud and why it is more than just another type of cloud computing service.

 

Date: 6 Mar 2013

Q Why do we need all the different types of cloud?

A As with telephone systems, broadband packages and other forms of telecommunications, the differing sizes and functions of businesses demand variation to suit their different needs. And cloud computing is no different.

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, public and private; there exists a vast range of different cloud computing types, and rightly so. Every business should be able to choose a solution which will work best for them, and for the majority that will be private cloud.

Q What is the definition of private cloud?

A Definition of private cloud: “A form of cloud computing that is used by only one organisation, or that ensures that an organisation is completely isolated from others.” - Gartner

Above is Gartner’s definition of private cloud, however private cloud can be defined in many different ways depending on whether it is referring to the reasoning or the usage.

When it comes to business usage, the type of cloud computing that is required is one which provides a much more secure and professional service. Set up on a larger platform, private cloud users can almost experience a sense of exclusivity; always having the scope to expand with the service and security that their business needs.

Q Who is it applicable to?

A Private cloud computing can be applicable to businesses of all shapes and sizes; anyone who requires their data to be kept safe and secure.
Private vs. public

There remains a lot of confusion regarding the differences
between public and private cloud computing solutions, many of
which can be easily explained.

Security of data
Data has never been more important to businesses. The loss of data can cost a company dearly, so the security surrounding their most prized possession should be of paramount importance when selecting the right storage solution.

The private cloud, unlike its public counterpart, doesn’t have to be connected to the internet. Taking our own personal cloud offering into consideration, for a virtual machine (VM) to be visible through
the Internet it must be configured to be.

Private cloud deployments can simply be accessed over an MPLS mechanism, connected to private networks.

This supports the “isolated” aspect of Gartner’s definition, as the private cloud can exist on its own and isn’t reliant on the web. As a result the business’ data can be protected against the threat of hacking, viruses and other potential dangers that can materialise through internet access.

The majority of public cloud platforms are only accessible via the internet. So in order to ensure that data is protected from these kinds of threats, extra security precautions must be installed and managed around the clock. In turn, requiring the businesses themselves to invest more money for the IT resource which is required to manage this security.

Private cloud providers also have the ability to offer SLAs for enterprise applications, allowing customers the assurance that they need.

Compliance and regulations
Whether legal or financial, some regulations require businesses to store their data in specific conditions, e.g. a certain location. These not only exist in local and EU data regulations, but in vertical sectors too.

This has raised the importance of understanding where your cloud provider is located before making a hosting decision and as reported in the Cloud Industry Forum’s Cloud Adoption report last year, 47% of UK organisations wanted their data to be stored in the UK.

Many data protection laws insist that data is stored within the UK and not transmitted outside; this is a transparency that most private cloud providers offer and something that is often hard to substantiate with public cloud providers.

However positional restrictions are not the only limitations that exist, legislation can also specify whether certain data types are permitted to be stored in the cloud, or whether they must be located on physical hardware. A compromise which can be difficult to achieve with a public cloud provider is the mixture of data which is stored inside and outside of the cloud. This is where a hybrid-enabled private cloud becomes the ideal solution.

As well as providing a secure UK-based private cloud solution, this can be teamed up with databases which are stored on physical hardware located either on site or alternatively colocated in a data centre across a private network. Allowing businesses to benefit from a secure cloud environment, whilst at the same time complying with the regulatory bodies.

Although the business itself may not be physically storing the data in the cloud or managing the security of the cloud, the fact remains that the data belongs to them and it is therefore their responsibility.

It’s all about the service
The public cloud has been built as a low cost, ‘pay as you go’ commodity and that is exactly what it is. However, for a lot of businesses the cloud is new territory and therefore extra support is needed to help the move of a company’s business applications to be as painless as possible.
Private cloud is much more service-orientated and focuses on providing customers with a migration plan to the cloud, working to timescales that the business is comfortable with.

As well as support and service, there are more characteristics which separate the public cloud from and private. Even if public cloud providers did start to offer a more support-centric service, they are still built in a completely different way to private cloud infrastructures.

The private cloud setup acts very much like traditional, tangible platforms in the way that servers or VMs are produced and connected to the network; however with the cloud this all happens in a virtualised setting.

Migration
We are currently at a stage where migrating content from physical machines to virtual machines has never been as easy as with private cloud.

More efficient than manually moving folders and files one by one, private cloud computing allows machines to be copied directly to the cloud to create like-for-like machines. This process, known as Physical to Virtual (P2V), works because the data isn’t being moved from one operating system to another.

Public cloud can provide P2V, but in order for this to work the content must be changed to fit the correct operating system and transferred across the internet, making the process much more difficult and time consuming.


Q What 2013 means for private cloud?

A This year will see an uptake in hybrid solutions for the majority of businesses which aren’t ready to move completely to the cloud all at once. This will allow them to stagger their move to the cloud, by using a combination of cloud and non-cloud hosting services, such as colocation.

We have seen a change in businesses’ opinions towards cloud over the last year or so, as they have changed from “will I?” to “which solution and when?” and this is only set to continue.
 

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