What is a private cloud (rediscovered)?

Private clouds are back on the menu as a priority for 2022 as enterprises focus on application modernization and the repatriation of public cloud workloads which have outgrown the cost-benefit of hyperscale utilization.

In this article, we’ll level-set on what private clouds are and why you would use them but more importantly, we’ll focus on how private cloud expectations and options have changed in recent years.

What Are Private Clouds And How Do They Work?

Private cloud is not a new concept but let’s start with a baseline to get on the same page.  A private cloud is an elastic and on-demand computing service offered either through the internet or a private internal network. As the name suggests, these are cloud services that are only offered to specific users or organizations and are not available to the public.  

The key difference between a true private cloud and a virtualized or converged infrastructure is the presence of on-demand service catalogs for rapid application and infrastructure provisioning.  Infrastructure stacks like VMware Cloud Foundation or vxRail are great building blocks but by themselves do not constitute a private cloud.

Private clouds have long been appealing because they can offer a high level of security and control over data access. They do this using company firewalls, internal infrastructure, and zero trust access to parts of the cloud that contain sensitive data. Since private clouds are, in fact, private, you’ll have to invest in the necessary staffing and operations resources to build and manage.

There are two common as-a-service models that come up in private cloud conversations. First is infrastructure as a service (IaaS) which allows the provisioning of basic infrastructure resources like compute, storage, or networking on demand. Platform as a service (PaaS) is a higher value delivery of actual application services and platforms on top of that infrastructure.

You can also combine private and public clouds to create a hybrid cloud. Hybrid clouds are great for cloud-bursting and tapping into elastic scale when needed. The chart below illustrates how popular the Hybrid Cloud approach has become among enterprise organizations. This analysis from Wikibon reviews a brief history of private and hybrid cloud over the

451 Research Diagram:  Current State of Hybrid Cloud
Source: 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: Cloud, Hosting and Managed Services, Workloads & Key Projects 2021

Why Use A Private Cloud?

Why would you want to use a private cloud? There are many benefits that are specific to private cloud use. Here are just some of them.

Flexibility and economy of scale from infrastructure choices: The great part of the public cloud is you don’t have to worry about operating infrastructure.  However, that also means you don’t get granular control over those components.  It also means your costs increase as you scale rather than decrease.

Private clouds can free you up to purchase whatever hardware and software you prefer to maximize performance, capacity, and resilience while minimizing security risks.  Plus the more workloads you place on your infrastructure the lower the cost per workload.  For larger organizations, this can translate to millions of dollars.

Greater visibility, security, and control for compliance: When using a public cloud, you have to deal with the reality that workloads run on shared infrastructure so you get less visibility, security, and control compared to private clouds running behind the corporate firewall.   This also extends into compliance needs and regulatory standards in certain industries where data sovereignty and access control dictate cloud choices.

With a private cloud, you get absolute control over system and data access plus can organize and secure your data in a way that best fits with your compliance requirements and regulatory standards.

An expanding universe of private clouds options 

The one problem with private clouds is that they tend to be expensive and complex to build, develop, and maintain. That’s because you have to invest in IT infrastructure and skills to keep your cloud fully functional and secure.  The good news is many options have emerged to simplify this equation.

Managed private clouds: Managed clouds let customers use private clouds that are deployed, configured, and managed by a third-party provider. Meaning you get all of the benefits of private cloud usage without the operational overhead.  Managed cloud services can be hosted in an MSP datacenter or on customer premises.  They are especially helpful for enterprise-level companies who are currently understaffed or underskilled who need help while they prepare to scale.

Utility based financing: Traditional OEM providers like HPE, Dell, and Lenovo have all kept up with the times and are all offering flexible utility consumption of their server, storage, and networking portfolios.  HPE GreenLake, Dell Apex, and Lenovo TruScale offer turnkey private clouds which include hardware, hypervisors, and cloud portals as well as OpEx based financing so companies only pay for the resources they use. 

Hyperscale cloud to ground offerings: The three major hyperscale public cloud providers have all realized that many enterprise workloads are not going to end up in the public cloud.  Offerings like AWS Outposts, Microsoft AzureStack and AzureStack HCI, as well as Google Anthos, are examples of hybrid offerings where public cloud providers are moving into the private cloud game.  The downside of these offers is they still lock enterprises into the services offered by that hyperscaler but on the other hand, they do over lower overhead compared to a DIY private cloud.

Rethinking expectations for your private cloud

In the early days of cloud, companies often deployed ‘cloud-inspired’ stacks of infrastructure and advertised these internally as private cloud.  Converged and hyper-converged stacks fell into this trap as they were easier to deploy than traditional infrastructure but still fell short of true private cloud.

Now that organizations have had experience in the public cloud, their expectations of private cloud have matured beyond those early experiments.  Internal developers and product teams expect the same platform interfaces on prem as they do in AWS or Azure.  For example programmatic addressability via Infrastructure-as-code, integration into DevOps pipelines, and on-demand platform services such as databases and app stacks at a click of a button.

This is where Morpheus comes in as we deliver a full public cloud experience on-prem with on-demand and elastic self-service of IaaS and PaaS.  For those looking for a managed offering, Morpheus Data works with a number of MSPs who have based their managed private cloud offerings on a combination of hypervisors like VMware, Nutanix, or OpenStack along with Morpheus as the self-service interface.  These include global providers and telcos such as BT, Fujitsu, Lumen, Telia, and more.  Morpheus also has relationships with major hardware OEMs so you can utilize programs like HPE GreenLake in combination with Morpheus to deploy a modern private cloud in an OpEx consumption model.

Come and learn more about Morpheus today!