Private Cloud 101

Although the public cloud gets a lot of attention these days, most organizations still operate local data centers. Even so, decision makers in these organizations often lament these local installations as they’ve heard about all of the goodness that can come from the public cloud. However, that kind of thinking reveals the real reasons that decision makers often consider the public cloud to be a panacea. It’s not the fact that something is running in the public cloud, but revolves more around the outcomes that these organizations enjoy, such as modified economics, easier scale, and improved efficiency. In this paper, you will explore the private cloud and gain an understanding of what this term means and how private cloud can benefit your organization.

The term private cloud was coined in order to describe an on-premises infrastructure that looks and acts like a public cloud environment, but serves the needs of just a single organization. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about private cloud. In this section, we’ll walk through some of those misconceptions to help you better understand the term and what it means.

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Virtualization vs. Private Cloud

You may have heard people say things like, “We’re 100% virtualized, so, therefore, we have a private cloud.” Not so fast! If you’re 100% virtualized, you are just that... 100% virtualized. Without some additional characteristics, you’re not operating a private cloud. These characteristics include things like easy and granular scale, user-self-service, and cloud-like economics. We’ll chat about these characteristics in more depth later in this paper, but the key takeaway for this section involves terminology. “Virtualization” does not equate to private cloud without the characteristics you’ll learn about later on in this paper.

Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud

Simply put, public cloud means that you’re renting time on someone else’s servers while private cloud means you’re operating your own. There is, however, some nuance here. In general, private cloud is often considered as you owning all aspects of the environment, including the data center physical space. There is absolutely an in-between state in which you may lease data center space—for example, in a colocation scenario. In general, if you own the hardware, which includes servers, networking equipment, and storage, and you’ve added to that environment the magic dust that transforms it into a private cloud, you can carry the private cloud label with honor. If you are simply renting capacity on someone else’s servers or you have not added that magic dust, which we’ll talk about shortly, then you’re not a private cloud.

Hybrid Cloud vs. Private Cloud

A lot of people have asked, “Do I have a private cloud or do I have a hybrid cloud?” In general, the term hybrid cloud means that you have some combination of public and private cloud operating your workloads. However, there’s a bit more to the story. If you have completely disconnected public and private cloud environments that don’t talk to one another whatsoever, there is some thought that these aren’t really hybrid cloud environments. Once you begin bringing these environments together, they merge to form a hybrid cloud workload operating environment.

Next Steps

The next step in moving to any cloud-like environment is to first virtualize physical servers. So many companies are still running physical hosts, for some applications, in the datacenter. The benefits of private or hybrid cloud can’t be achieved without leveraging virtualization, at the compute layer, in the datacenter.

If you are 100% virtualized already, many companies are moving to private or hybrid cloud, starting with a single Internet-facing application, where it makes sense. That application serves as a proof of concept (POC) for other applications that are moved later.

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