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Private cloud advantages on a public cloud

Amit Sinha Roy | July 26, 2011
Many companies have found that hosting their existing applications over an Infrastructure as a Service platform can save them money and increase business agility. But going with an externally hosted cloud does not necessarily mean losing control or increased vulnerability.

When a business adopts cloud services, a key decision is whether a company chooses a public or a private cloud implementation. Private clouds are data centers owned, operated, and hosted for one organisation, typically located on the company’s own site. Public cloud Infrastructure is shared by multiple organizations and hosted by third parties.

The popular view is that private clouds give the customer total control over every aspect of the cloud environment—whether based at the company’s own business site or hosted at a vendor’s data center. With private clouds, customers do have the option to add multiple layers of security, user authentication and intrusion detection and prevention that many public cloud sites may not offer or may include only as expensive options. Companies can also demand non-standard network designs or components in their cloud, whereas public cloud customers will need to conform to the standards chosen by the vendor.

However, all this customisation, accommodation, and network isolation comes at a considerable cost. If a company decides to build its own cloud on its premises, costs can run high, including the additional expense of hiring experienced cloud management technicians to manage the private cloud.

There is an alternative however. Some cloud vendors are able to provide a totally private cloud infrastructure for a customer on its remote premises, making certain that the customer’s entire cloud is segregated from any other customer at the data center. In line with this, customisation of the cloud can be carefully worked through.

The following are three myths associated with the work involved.

Myth #1: Third party hosted private clouds are expensive
While more expensive than a standard public cloud solution, they would cost significantly less than a privately hosted, in-house cloud.

Myth #2: Public clouds are less secure
Depending on the vendor, public clouds can be more secure than current customer premise networks. It all depends on the resources, funding and expertise the vendor puts behind its private cloud model. Top-tier cloud vendors have the equipment, trained personnel, and experience that would be prohibitively expensive for most businesses to employ. Coupled with this, the slightest breach in security could immediately and irrevocably ruin the vendor’s entire business. There is much at stake and having the tools and personnel to do a more thorough and secure job than the majority of hosted customers are able to do, often makes all the difference.

Myth #3: Public clouds are not customizable
While public cloud vendors offer a stock set of server, storage, memory, and network configurations to suit the broadest possible range of customers, many can accommodate a level of customisation. Services can start out on a relatively basic standard. Businesses then need to build out their cloud with their own databases, programming environments, or management tools; or almost turn-key, so the entire business can be migrated to a cloud environment.

Cloud vendors come in all shapes and sizes and as such, there are many factors to consider when choosing one.

Check capabilities
Not all clouds are created equally in terms of technology capabilities. Many potential problems are avoided if the cloud vendor can provide adequate management and monitoring of their cloud-based resources. Businesses should be aware of how well their cloud platform deals with network, storage, and access capacities, such as handling sudden bursts in traffic, enhancing performance, or bringing new storage or memory on line. With some vendors, businesses may even have to provide their own management to make certain their cloud applications and cloud infrastructure are running optimally.

Probe security and reliability
Businesses considering cloud computing should thoroughly vet the reliability, reputation, and security of any cloud facility they are considering. They should examine policies for storage and system backup in cases of site disasters, such as power, equipment, or network failures. The cloud provider should have mean time between failure rates and/or ISO 9000 reliability ratings available. Security should never be overlooked. Public cloud providers should be able to fully explain all data security features of their cloud sites.

Ease of use
Businesses also need to consider whether the complexity of the vendor site may affect operations. If the cost of a solution is obscured by complicated rate plans, multiple sub-contractors for different aspects of the system, or by the failure of the deployment team to adequately predict the resources needed for initial deployment and future growth plans, monitoring the cloud may become resource-prohibitive. 

Putting part or all of an organisation’s IT on the cloud is a business critical undertaking. While most businesses will perform due diligence by speaking to industry and customer references, the inclusion of the above checks will also go a long way in bringing further peace of mind. In line with this, it is also important to note that one size does not fit all. There is a cloud solution out there for all businesses.

Amit Sinha Roy is Vice President, Global Enterprise Solutions, Tata Communications.


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