When to Move to Private Cloud — and Why

According to the RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report, 31 percent of enterprises are running 100 or more virtual machines in private clouds — an increase from 22 percent in 2015. So, what’s behind this increasingly common shift to the private cloud?

Part of the shift can be attributed to the proliferation of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings. As SaaS and IaaS become more common, the number of clouds a business relies on has also increased.

As a result, many businesses are now managing multiple clouds. Among the 1,002 IT professionals who were surveyed in the RightScale report, the typical organization is running applications in two public clouds and two private clouds. And the typical organization is also experimenting with another two clouds in each form factor. That means the typical organization is using or experimenting with eight clouds — up from six in last year’s survey. Where and why are organizations using private clouds within this multi-cloud mix?

Why private cloud?

Compared to the typical private cloud, public cloud networking is often less predictable and reliable, due to the constant flux of machines, applications and virtual networks. Applications that may have performed well in the data center, on dedicated machines or carefully controlled virtual infrastructure, can face degraded performance in the public cloud.

Scalability is also an issue with tightly coupled applications running in the public cloud. Since most public cloud architectures are built to allow automatic deployment and scaling, it’s much more complicated to maintain the knowledge and expertise necessary to run applications optimally.

Conversely, a private cloud provides infrastructure-as-a-service in a single-tenant environment, which can help you meet specific performance, stability, security, compliance and data sovereignty requirements.

The private cloud also offers location flexibility. It can be deployed in your data center or a third-party data center, and be can hosted by a service provider. This flexibility allows you to get close to your customer base while adhering to the specific data sovereignty regulations in a given geographical area. The single-tenant model also eliminates the performance and “noisy neighbor” issues commonly found in multi-tenant public cloud environments.

In the end, the decision to invest in the private cloud usually comes down to the three primary benefits: greater performance, higher levels of security and added control over costs.

Performance

In the public cloud, because you’re sharing hardware with other tenants, you may experience slowdowns associated with strained resources from time to time. Private cloud, on the other hand, offers optimal, predictable performance for your workloads. It gives you the ability to customize the compute, storage and networking components to best suit your specific IT requirements — something that cannot be achieved so easily in a public cloud environment. It also gives you greater control over how you allocate those compute resources.

And because you’re not sharing those compute resources with other tenants, you can rebalance workloads as necessary for optimal performance. In the private cloud, there are no “noisy neighbors” to hog bandwidth or processing power.

Many organizations that have been in the public cloud, especially enterprises, look at the private cloud as a next-level experience — a significant upgrade over public cloud. It represents the agility of the public cloud combined with the controlled performance and security of dedicated hardware.

Security

Security and compliance concerns don’t go away in the private cloud, but many of our customers prefer to avoid multi-tenant environments and fully isolate their physical networks.

While new technologies are emerging that promise greater security in the public cloud, most enterprises are waiting for those technologies to be fully refined before entrusting their valuable business data to them.

Another reason we see many of our security-minded customers choosing a private cloud is that they want to use their own security infrastructure, tools and devices. Taking advantage of your existing security investments may make sense from a cost perspective, and it also means that your IT professionals — the people you’ve hired and trained — are protecting your environment with tools they’ve likely been using for years.

The other big concern is compliance. Public clouds can provide dedicated virtual networks, but only in a private cloud do you get hardware, storage and physical network configurations dedicated to a single client — which makes compliance much easier to achieve.

You can also tailor your on-site or hosted private cloud to meet the unique compliance and security requirements for your industry or region. For many companies, that alone is reason enough to move to a private cloud.

Control over costs

The private cloud can allow for greater cost control than the public cloud. First, it helps you avoid vendor lock-in and large investments in proprietary technologies that could limit your options in the future. A private cloud platform can also lower the cost per virtual machine by pooling resources and aggregating demand from multiple users across one resource pool.

Then there’s the truism that time is money. Fidelio Consulting recently found that, on average, Rackspace Private Cloud customers shortened their time to deploy a virtual machine by 40 percent — with one customer reducing their time by 80 percent. Faster deployment means faster time to market.

When it comes to software development, the public cloud is at a huge disadvantage. Software development requires the establishment of strictly defined test cases. You need to be able to customize as much of your environment as possible to fit your test case criteria. But you can only customize so much in a public cloud, which is why the private cloud is also the ideal place to establish a continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) software development cycle. In turn, CI/CD can help to greatly reduce errors by keeping development, staging and production environments in sync.

In recent years, we’ve moved out of the ‘euphoria phase’ of public cloud adoption and into the workload approach to choosing the right cloud platform. There’s no denying the simplicity, agility and cost-effectiveness of the public cloud, but it doesn’t work for every business case and workload.

In the world of multi-cloud, forward-looking companies are tapping into the performance and security advantages of private and hybrid cloud environments for their most demanding and specialized workloads.

To learn more and ask questions about whether hosted private cloud might be a good fit for your organization, take advantage of a free architecture design session with a private cloud expert — no strings attached. SIGN UP NOW.

Kristin Waldrop serves as product marketing manager for Dedicated Servers and Fanatical Support. She joined Rackspace in 2012 with nearly 10 years of enterprise-level technology strategy, consulting, and project management experience. Prior to joining Rackspace, Kristin helped shape IT strategies for some of the largest defense agencies in the U.S. at Booz Allen Hamilton. Connect with her on Twitter @KristinWaldrop.​

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