With what seems to be the bulk of mankind forced to work at home and operate through cloud-based solutions, the Covid-19 outbreak smashed traditional perspectives regarding how people work. The cloud saved hundreds of thousands of companies and leveled the playing field in what was the fastest-changing work environment in history. To keep their businesses afloat and their staff in jobs, companies were able to turn to solutions like Google Meet, Gmail, Microsoft Office 365, and Microsoft Teams, and utilize cloud storage through providers like Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive. Best yet, most did this without additional cost.
Covid-19 proved the effectiveness of the cloud, and while most recognized it as being a secure place to do business, some were concerned by its public nature. Cloud solutions (Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, AWS, etc.) are, by definition, ‘Public Clouds’ that sell their services to cloud ‘tenants’ who access accounts through a web browser. As in the past, when the security-minded adopted Intranets as private versions of the Internet, these days many companies and individuals prefer to utilize ‘Private Clouds’.
What is a Private Cloud? What are the benefits?
Like the Intranets of the past, Private Clouds are dedicated to a single customer. Although the infrastructure for Private Clouds can be housed externally in third-party data centers, they typically utilize a company’s on-premises IT infrastructure. As such, they have several benefits in terms of security and control.
Security and Control
With full control of their own IT infrastructure, companies can place more rigorous controls on who can access the data it houses. With companies sharing resources in the Public Cloud, the potential for security issues is obvious. Likewise, with an IT infrastructure they control access to, companies do not need to worry about the physical security of their onsite servers.
Private Clouds also make it easier for companies to comply with the restrictions and regulations placed on them by national governments and industry bodies. A good example of this is ‘Data Sovereignty’. Many governments require the private data of their citizens to be stored on servers that are physically located within their national boundaries. It is extremely difficult to control where data is stored in a Public Cloud, but compliance becomes much easier when a company can show the physical location of its data. Like Public Clouds, Private Clouds are scalable and can meet a company’s computing and virtualization capabilities as it grows.
The Public Cloud operates on a business model that many companies find enticing. As you only pay for the resources you use, CEOs and CFOs typically sense savings. With no redundancy, the Public Cloud must mean cost reductions. But like with other utilities, relying on a Public Cloud means variable costs. When demand is high, costs are high. In instances where, for example, poorly coded software places tremendous demands on infrastructure, a Public Cloud keeps adding resources until demands are met, and this can mean companies face monthly/annual fees far greater than their expectations. While Private Clouds might operate with unused resources, many companies prefer to know how much their IT bills will be. As they can choose when to scale IT operations, and to what extent, some companies that switch to Private Cloud solutions experience savings of up to ten times the cost of Public Cloud solutions.
Public Clouds offer the same resources to each of their tenants. A company must therefore adapt its IT infrastructure to the limitations of the solutions offered by their Public Cloud provider. With a Private Cloud, a company can develop and install the solutions they require to meet their exact business requirements.
As Covid-19 showed, Public Clouds are reliable with only occasional outages. However, when such outages occur, they can wreak havoc. Amazon Web Services (AWS) manages around 40% of the cloud market. As a result, when they do have an outage, they bring down a considerable chunk of the Internet. If your business activity is bound to a Public Cloud, there is nothing you can do except wait until the cloud company you are using can restore services. However, with a Private Cloud, companies can plan contingencies for such occasions.
Only larger companies are likely to have their own onsite IT infrastructure. If your company is of a certain size and you operate in a business area that requires you to store your sensitive data and that of your customers/clients, the advantages of a Private Cloud are numerous and obvious. However, smaller players that simply can’t afford their own IT department are forced to use the Public Cloud, and the advantages Public Clouds offer startups and smaller organizations far outweigh any potential risks.