On the Fast Track
Private cloud computing is the next big wave
- By Charles P. Williams
- Dec 01, 2013
Cloud computing has kicked off the next big
wave in business computing. It offers many
benefits including business agility, security,
scalability and reduced administration,
resulting in a lower total cost of ownership
(TCO) for any size and type of company. The
recent innovations in mobile devices and virtualization technologies,
including today’s comprehensive, wireless access
to high-speed Internet, have all contributed to the acceleration
of cloud computing.
Fueled by the rapid growth of social computing, mobility and
availability have become key factors for the hardware and software
industry as mobile devices and applications (apps) accessing
the Web are set to be bigger than traditional desktop computing
by 2015. The number of employees using their own smartphones
and tablet devices to access private, corporate and public cloud
services is quickly increasing, which has forced decision makers
in most IT departments to make business applications available.
About Private Cloud Computing
Cloud computing began with the public cloud. A service provider
makes resources available to the public for free or with a “payas-
you-go” model, which can include computing services, applications
and storage. With this low-cost, easy-to-set-up model,
scalability isn’t an issue because you only pay for what you use.
Examples of the public cloud include Google Apps and Amazon
The private cloud is essentially a cloud infrastructure that
operates for a single organization or where the service access is
limited to a specific group of people. It is comprised of networking,
server hardware, which usually provides server virtualization,
storage and management tools. This is most often managed internally,
but it can be hosted externally by a managed service provider (MSP), making it then known as a “virtual private cloud.”
The public cloud addresses the needs of the market, but it is
not tailored to the needs of individual companies. While it offers
many benefits, there are certain applications that require stricter
control over data. This has led to the evolution of private cloud
computing or delivering IT as a service securely, within your own
The reality is, however, that most organizations are offering a
hybrid cloud, combining the best of both worlds from the public
cloud and private cloud. Ideally, the hybrid approach allows a
business to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness
that a public cloud computing environment offers without
exposing mission-critical applications and data to third-party
Benefits of Private Cloud Computing
The most compelling benefits of private cloud computing are:
- Mobility and access—simple and secure access whenever you
want, wherever you are.
- Scalability—allows seamless scalability for your business.
- Data security—allows companies to maintain sovereignty and
control of access to data.
- Offsite data backup—ensures data is safely backed-up on an
- Client device independence—enables the use of employees’
mobile device(s), without compromising security.
- Resource sharing—ensures organizational efficiency.
- Reduced workload for IT administrators—usage of built-in
- Business agility—using virtual servers, IT administrators can
quickly scale-up capacity as required and deploy new applications
quickly, without the need to build and test hardware.
- Uptime and reliability—business-critical applications can be
kept by applying SLAs so they continue to operate during an
outage, while less important services can be supported costeffectively
in the public cloud.
- Capital expenditure—the cost for constant hardware and software
upgrades is eliminated, reducing IT-related expenditure.
- Fast ROI—as IT costs are reduced, IT processes are improved,
making the organization run more efficiently.
Creating a Private Cloud
Once the benefits of private cloud computing are understood, the
right model must be selected to fit business needs. There are several
questions that have to be answered in order to setup a private cloud:
- Should you build your own private cloud or use an MSP and
a virtual private cloud?
- What platform will be used to create the infrastructure?
- Can security threats be contained?
- How will threats be managed?
The platform. One of the main goals of cloud computing is to
provide uninterrupted service to users. To do so, there are numerous
hardware and hypervisors available to choose from to build
a platform. The major hypervisor platforms—VMware, Hyper-
V and Citrix—are largely considered based on cost and features.
With public clouds, like EC2, the platform is the product the provider
is selling, making it a matter of choosing the right product.
Evaluating the product based on price and performance will
be the main focus, but there are other factors to consider: network
security, storage, disaster recovery procedures, service-level
agreements (SLA), and the location of the facility.
With a private cloud solution, choosing the right platform is
not only a matter of cost but also the skill set of the team. It’s also
imperative to choose the right provider because contracts with
the provider and the difficulties involved in changing providers
can be considerable.
The storage. Cloud storage is usually in the form of a SAN
which provides flexibility and scalability for customers. Other
advantages include continuity of service, disaster recovery and
security depending on the cloud model. These features can help
customers meet regulatory requirements, and provide access to
resources that are costly and require a skilled staff to implement.
Providers may also offer backup services that can be replicated to
The security. Securing data in the cloud requires substantial
planning because security is an issue that has similar concerns for
both private clouds and virtual private clouds. While the provider
is responsible for network security in the virtual private cloud
model, in both models, server security is the responsibility of the
server administrator. This demonstrates the need to thoroughly
choose a provider or have staff with the necessary skills to effectively
secure corporate data.
A provider should be able to produce a comprehensive security
strategy that meets industry standards, such as PCI and other
specific standards related to the business, such as HIPPA. This
may be a difficult challenge for staff to create in a private cloud
due to the knowledge and equipment that may be required to
achieve PCI compliance.
The administration. Administrating private clouds and virtual
private clouds differ greatly. Private cloud administrators can directly
use the hypervisor interface to configure all aspects of the
virtual servers. Virtual servers provide administrators with tools
to minimize server crashes and provide failover capabilities that
are built into the hypervisor as well as snap shots and clustering
for failover. These features can be configured to “roll back server”
in the event of an operating system crash or hardware failure.
The evolution of private cloud computing is beginning to
deliver on its promise, and many organizations have started to
capitalize on the benefits. The cloud paradigm has some constant
factors to account for in any scenario such as scalability, security,
availability and cost transparency. Proper planning will ensure
that organizational investments in private cloud computing are
not crippled by unexpected downtime, sky rocketing costs or security
The Future of Computing: Local Desktop
Computers are Dead
The significant improvements in display and processing technology
have led to the massive use of mobile devices, including
smartphones, tablets and netbooks, with a wide range of applications.
Therefore, they move the server capacity to the hosted,
private cloud and migrate to a leased rental model, also known as
“Cloud as a Service” (CaaS).
Ultimately, various ISVs and IT providers will deliver their
services to the cloud, and customers or enterprises will pick and
choose the services they require for their private cloud.
This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Security Today.