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What is a private cloud?

Private cloud is an on-demand cloud deployment model where cloud computing services and infrastructure are hosted privately, often within a company’s own intranet or data center using proprietary resources and are not shared with other organizations. The company usually oversees the management, maintenance, and operation of the private cloud. A private cloud offers an enterprise more control and better security than a public cloud, but managing it requires a higher level of IT expertise.

In general, cloud computing allows organizations to move compute power, data storage, and other services away from on-premises servers and onto remote servers that employees or customers can access via the Internet. A company that wishes to use cloud computing services may choose between a private cloud (where cloud services are exclusive to the company) and a public cloud (where cloud services are owned and managed by a provider who also hosts other tenants), or a combination of the two, known as a hybrid cloud.

How does a private cloud work?

Like other types of cloud environments, a private cloud uses virtualization technology to combine computing resources into shared pools and automatically provision them depending on organizational needs. This allows an enterprise to scale and maximize resource usage. The difference is that in a private cloud, those computing resources are exclusive to a single organization and are not shared with other tenants. Users can gain access to the private cloud through the company’s intranet or through a virtual private network (VPN).

Why a private cloud?

Because the owner of a private cloud maintains complete control, not only can organizations ensure tighter security, they also benefit from better availability and more uptime than a public cloud can offer. 

Here are some examples where an organization can benefit from using a private cloud:

  • Specific security or compliance needs: For organizations that are subject to regulatory compliance requirements, a private cloud may be necessary to achieve compliance. Similarly, an organization may choose to use a private cloud to store sensitive data in order to retain greater control over security.
  • Technical expertise: Running a private cloud requires a higher level of technical investment and expertise to manage the added complexity that would be handled by the cloud provider under a public cloud model. Enterprises that are confident in their technical abilities are well placed to take advantage of a private cloud.
  • Predictable resource needs: One of the foremost benefits of public clouds is elasticity, or the ability to scale resources up and down quickly when needs fluctuate. However, some organizations don’t need this elasticity because their usage is relatively consistent. For these organizations, a private cloud can be a better option.

What is the difference between private and public cloud?

Private cloud is a cloud deployment model where computing resources are dedicated and proprietary, and a single organization hosts and manages the system. Public cloud is a model where cloud services are owned and managed by a provider who also hosts other tenants. Companies may combine a private cloud with a public cloud in a hybrid cloud environment.

Types of private cloud

There are different types of private clouds that deliver different services. For example, when a company uses a private cloud for infrastructure as a service (IaaS), the cloud might host storage, networking, or compute services. Private clouds can also support platform as a service (PaaS) applications, which work just like regular software applications that are hosted on a local computer.

There are also a variety of types of private cloud hosting options. These include software-only platforms, combined software and hardware packages, and hosted or managed private clouds. Hosted or managed means the private cloud server may live on the customer’s premises or in a vendor’s data center, but is hosted and sometimes managed by a vendor. Some public cloud service providers also offer virtual private clouds, which create small, isolated environments for specific users. 

  • Virtual private cloud: This type is different from conventional private clouds because the resources in a virtual private cloud exist in a walled-off area on a public cloud instead of being hosted on-premises.
  • Hosted private cloud: This type of private cloud is hosted by a separate cloud service provider on-premises or in a data center, but the server is not shared with other organizations. The cloud service provider is responsible for configuring the network and maintaining the hardware for the private cloud, as well as keeping the software updated. This option provides the best of both worlds for organizations that require the security and availability of a private cloud but prefer not to invest in an in-house data center. 
  • Managed private cloud: With this type of private cloud, a cloud service provider not only hosts a private cloud for an organization, but it also manages and monitors the day-to-day operations of the private cloud. The cloud service provider may also deploy and update additional cloud-based services such as storage and identity management or security audits. A managed private cloud server can save a company considerable time and IT resources.

Benefits of private cloud

  • Total system control, resulting in stronger security: A private cloud offers total system control and increased security through dedicated hardware and physical infrastructure that’s used exclusively by the company that owns it. 
  • Greater performance: Because the hardware is dedicated and not used by any other organization, workload performance for cloud services is never affected by another company running resource-intensive workloads on a shared server or by a public cloud service outage.
  • Long-term cost savings: While it can be expensive to set up the infrastructure to support a private cloud, it can pay off in the long term. If an organization already has the hardware and network required for hosting, a private cloud can be much more cost-effective compared to paying monthly fees to use someone else’s servers on the public cloud. 
  • Scalability: If an organization outgrows its existing hardware resources, it can easily add more. If the growth is temporary or seasonal, an organization can move to a hybrid cloud solution, incurring minimal usage fees by using the public cloud only when necessary. 
  • Predictable costs: In addition, the costs of using a public cloud can be very unpredictable—with a private cloud, costs are the same each month, regardless of the workloads an organization is running.
  • Better customization: Because companies have complete control over a private cloud, it is much easier to reallocate resources and tailor the cloud to perform specifically according to requirements that the company defines. IT managers have access to every level of settings in their private cloud environment—they are not limited by policies set by public cloud service providers.

Is private cloud more secure than public cloud?

Private cloud is generally more secure than public cloud, with one important caveat: A business must proactively ensure that security is strong and up to date in order to reap the benefits of private cloud. (Most public cloud providers have the scale and resources to provide robust security, so businesses that have doubts about their ability to manage their own security may be better served by public cloud solutions.) As long as a business isn’t complacent, though, the private cloud offers many advantages for security. Since private clouds are limited to specific physical machines, it’s easier to ensure physical security. They sit behind a perimeter firewall and are accessed through private, secure network links (rather than through the public Internet). And the degree of control a business has over its private cloud also makes it easier to achieve regulatory compliance.

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