COVID-19 drove the urgency for organizations 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 is touted for its unprecedented resource availability and cost-effectiveness, it’s not the best option for every company. In this blog, we take a 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?]

How is the Private Cloud Different from Public Cloud?

Private cloud refers to cloud environments 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. By contrast, a public cloud 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-prem 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. It also gives 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]

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 owns the infrastructure and is responsible for all its purchase and maintenance costs. The customer may manage this model themselves or outsource it partially or fully to a third-party service provider.

What Are the Benefits of a 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 organizations 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 access 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 business can choose and customize the hardware and software to meet its needs. Therefore, it has much greater visibility into security and access control than it would in a public cloud. Furthermore, the company can fully enforce the compliance standards it must meet rather than rely on whatever compliance the service provider offers.

Are There Disadvantages?

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 to make the most informed decision.

The main disadvantage is cost. A private cloud is more expensive than the public cloud. The reason for this is 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 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 put private cloud environments within reach of all organizations.

The Future of the Private Cloud

Two other private cloud models 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. 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 a vendor manages the infrastructure.

VPCs 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. Because the customer outsources 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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