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It’s expected that 50 percent of workloads will move to the cloud within the next year, which is hardly surprising.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a new urgency for companies to move to the cloud, as it enables access to services and data from anywhere — an obvious necessity given the historic shift to remote work.

While the public cloud has been touted for its unprecedented resource availability and cost-effectiveness, it’s not the best option for every company. Here, we’ll look at the private cloud, its benefits and drawbacks, and how it may be a better choice for your organization.

[Related Reading: What Is Public Cloud?]

What makes the private cloud different from public cloud?

Private cloud refers to cloud environments that are dedicated to a single customer or tenant. All the hardware and software resources are hosted in the customer’s on-premises data center and accessible over its private network. A public cloud, by contrast, is hosted by a third-party vendor and made available to multiple unrelated customers online.

Private cloud combines the scalability and flexibility of cloud computing with the security control and customization of on-premises infrastructure. That makes it an attractive — and often the only — option for organizations that must ensure the security of sensitive data and meet compliance requirements. Private clouds also give organizations the flexibility to move workloads to a public cloud when necessary and lay a foundation for them to move to a hybrid cloud model — a mix of private and public cloud — to leverage the benefits of both.

[Related Reading: Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud]

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How does the private cloud work?

Private clouds are constructed with the same technologies as the public cloud. That includes bare-metal IT infrastructure; virtualization and container software for abstracting and sharing resources over a network; management software to administrate the infrastructure, applications, and data used in the cloud; and an automation layer to reduce the need for humans to perform repeatable processes.

In the private cloud model, the customer is the owner of the infrastructure and is responsible for all its purchase and maintenance costs. The customer may manage the private cloud themselves or outsource it partially or fully to a third-party service provider.

What are the benefits of the private cloud?

Private clouds offer several benefits that make them better suited for certain organizations than public clouds.

To start, they’re a particularly good choice for companies that want to take advantage of the resource scalability of the cloud but can’t move their data to a public cloud because of compliance requirements, security policies, or industry regulations. Although public clouds include robust security such as data encryption and firewalls, several customers may be storing data or running two different applications on the same physical server at the same time. None of the customers has access to the others’ data, and the risk of data leakage is low. However, private clouds offer an extra layer of protection because access is limited to the customer-owner.

On-premises private clouds also have the advantage of being completely under the customer’s control. The company can choose and customize the hardware and software to meet its needs and has much greater visibility into security and access control than it would in a public cloud. Further, the company can fully enforce the compliance standards it must meet rather than rely on whatever compliance the service provider offers.

What are the disadvantages of a private cloud?

Private clouds also come with a few drawbacks. Though the advantages of privacy and control may outweigh these for many organizations, they’re important to be aware of in order to make the most informed decision.

The main disadvantage is cost. A private cloud is more expensive than the public cloud, because the organization takes on the expense of purchasing all the infrastructure, network, hardware, and software components, plus the costs of upgrades and hiring staff to maintain it all. The customer also takes on the associated costs of providing power, space, cooling facilities, and protection from damage for the private cloud.

Physically building and running a private cloud is another challenge. The process of installing infrastructure, provisioning resources, and building apps are complex and time-consuming and may require hiring additional specialized personnel.

Historically, these challenges and demands led to only the biggest enterprises being capable of building and maintaining their own private cloud. But other options are emerging that put private cloud environments within reach of all organizations.

The future of the private cloud

Two other models of private cloud offer alternatives for organizations who can’t or don’t want to take on the expense of operating their own private cloud.

Virtual private cloud (VPC)

Some public cloud providers offer a service called virtual private cloud (VPC). The provider creates an isolated space on its public cloud infrastructure that can be provisioned for use by a single tenant. The customer gets access to its own dedicated cloud servers, virtual networks, cloud storage, and private ID addresses, while the infrastructure is managed by the vendor.

VPC’s are less expensive to run than private clouds, as they typically follow pay-per-use pricing similar to the public cloud. That makes them a viable way for smaller organizations to get the privacy and security of a private cloud with the scalability, flexibility, and cost savings of the public cloud.

Managed private cloud

Managed private clouds offer many of the advantages of on-premises private clouds, including greater customization, control, and stronger security, and because the customer is outsourcing operations, deployment is significantly faster. However, managed private clouds are more expensive than self-managed infrastructures, making them a popular choice for enterprises that need dedicated cloud resources but don’t want to take on the high costs of maintenance, management, and upgrades.

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Alert Logic MDR provides the same security outcomes no matter where your systems are hosted — across public cloud, hybrid, or on-premises. If you’d like to learn more on MDR based on your environment, visit alertlogic.com/managed-detection-and-response/environments/.

John Pirc
About the Author
John Pirc

John, currently the Director of Product Management for Alert Logic’s MDR Platform is a seasoned security expert with multinational security and business experience spanning over 20 years. He was most recently the Director of Network Security for Secureworks, Director of Security for Forsythe Technology, Co-Founder and CSO of Bricata, LLC and prior to that, John was the CTO at NSS Labs. Previously, John had responsibility for all Security products at Hewlett Packard/TippingPoint/HP Security Research, in addition to working as the Director of product management with both IBM Security and Cisco running billion-dollar product portfolios.

John is a published author and frequently takes the stage to speak at Security industry events and has been interviewed on multiple live TV engagements. John’s greatest professional achievements include working for the Central Intelligence Agency, authoring three books, and being published in Time Magazine.

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