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The New Role for the Private Cloud. It’s Not What You Think.

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Private cloud was popular in the early days of cloud computing when enterprises struggled with security and control issues.  These days, public cloud dominates, as revealed in the recent “State of the Cloud Study” from RightScale.

The reasons for the growth of public clouds are pretty clear, including low operating costs, instant scalability, and the ability to better support changing businesses.  However, the private cloud still has a place in IT, and understanding what’s about to emerge in the private cloud space will give you a better focus on this pattern of cloud architecture.

Private clouds are being leveraged as points-of-control or interfaces into public clouds.  These emerging hybrid clouds or multi-cloud architectures use a tiered approach where the private cloud (tier 1) links to public cloud services (tier 2), and those looking to access cloud services do so using the private cloud services as the primary interface.  Then, as needed, the private cloud leverages the public cloud services.

An example would be a private cloud that runs on an MSP for an enterprise.  While the private cloud provides cloud services such as storage and compute using the native interface of the private cloud software, these services are supported with resources that run in the MSP’s public cloud.

If the private cloud needs additional resources, then it links to public cloud services, such as storage and compute.  The public cloud services carry out operations on behalf of the request made by the private clouds, which, in turn, is carrying out a request made by the application or end-user.

This hybrid architectural approach uses the private cloud as an entry point, and it is beginning to gain popularity for a few core reasons:

  • Enterprises typically like to focus on private clouds as the primary resources for applications when there are considerations around control and security, and, in some cases, standing laws and regulations that dictate where data can and cannot reside.
  • Use of the private cloud as the “public cloud controller” (for lack of a better term) means there is a single set of interfaces to many different public cloud providers.  This simplifies the use of cloud services by providing a common layer of abstraction using a private cloud.
  • Finally, the use of governance and security becomes much easier to implement.  We’re really focused on the private cloud platform, and use the public cloud resources only as needed.  That means there is no repeatable pattern of use that causes vulnerabilities, and the security approaches are fairly straightforward.

The winners in this emerging pattern of use include enterprises that are not yet ready to make the move to the public cloud, but want public cloud types of services.  However, this is a not a temporary solution; this one has scalability to future uses.

MSPs deliver public cloud connectivity as part of their infrastructure, and are naturals to host these types of hybrid clouds.  They will be the more cost effective choice, for sure.

You should at least look at this approach.  Those who thought that private clouds were being relegated to tactical solutions may find that private clouds now have a new role.

By David Linthicum

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