When private and hybrid cloud technology first appeared, some pundits predicted that they wouldn’t last–wasn’t everything going to the public cloud? But last they did, and there are several good reasons why private and hybrid cloud are here to stay. For one thing, some companies are balking at the cost of maintaining public cloud deployments once their workloads and storage grow into the tens of petabytes. In addition, some vertical markets (financial services, for example) mandate tight internal security controls, so the public cloud is not an option for many aspects of their business. Finally, enterprise customers want to be able to choose the cloud solution that’s best for them, and they don’t want to be mandated to use public cloud if their circumstances dictate otherwise.
Public cloud providers rake in billions of dollars in service fees because using a public cloud is an easy thing to do. With a few mouse clicks, users can activate cloud resources and scale them indefinitely without having to worry about housing or maintaining hardware or developing the in-house expertise to build a cloud on premises. Cloud computing was born as public cloud, and many cloud computing advocates felt that on-premises or co-located clouds were just a fancy name for the same old data center resources.
But rather than declining, private and hybrid cloud deployments are growing because these approaches have valid roles within enterprises. In most cases, it’s not an either/or decision between one type of cloud and another. A more likely scenario is that most enterprises will use a mix of public, private and hybrid clouds as IT departments try to balance security, costs, and scalability.
Leveraging a private or hybrid cloud computing model has three advantages. First, it provides a clear use case for public cloud computing. Specific aspects of existing IT infrastructure (storage and compute, for example) can be placed in public cloud environments while the remainder of the IT infrastructure stays on premise. For example, with business intelligence applications, it may be better to keep the data local and do the analytical processing in the public cloud rather than migrating gigabytes of operational data to the public cloud.
Secondly, using a private or hybrid model delivers more flexibility in gaining maximum leverage from computing architecture, considering you can mix and match the resources between local infrastructure (which is typically a sunk cost but is difficult to scale), with infrastructure that's scalable and provisioned on demand. IT departments can choose where best to place applications depending on their needs and cost structure.
Finally, the use of hybrid or private cloud computing validates the idea that not all IT resources should exist in public clouds today, and some resources may never be moved to public clouds. Considering compliance issues, performance requirements, and security restrictions, the need for local is a fact of life. This experience with the private or hybrid model helps users better understand what compute cycles and data have to be kept local and what can be processed remotely.
The argument against private or hybrid cloud points to large hardware and software investments required and the depth of in-house expertise needed to make it happen. However, newer cloud platforms address these pain points.
In some cases, cloud infrastructure vendors are offering converged (compute/storage/networking) appliances that can be set up and running in minutes. These appliances provide scalable building blocks to support private and hybrid clouds with ample resources, and they deliver a better ROI than traditional data center hardware.
Another approach is to use standard OpenStack APIs with a self-healing architecture that reduces the management burden. A few vendors use SaaS-based portals that handle management and operations with complete health monitoring and predictive analytics to prevent problems before they occur. By enabling curated updates through automated patching and upgrades, the end user receives the best possible service experience with minimal effort required of the administrator.
So while private and hybrid cloud once required plenty of in-house cloud-building expertise, it’s not true today. Modern cloud platforms address many of the objections to using private or hybrid cloud, and these architectures can work together with public cloud to give enterprises the performance and cost-effectiveness they seek. Today’s private and hybrid cloud platforms provide the same ease-of-use as public cloud infrastructure while delivering the flexibility, security, performance and control many enterprises demand.