Private Cloud, Defined Page 2

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Private Cloud Complexities and Considerations

And that's actually rather tricky to define. A company server room containing a self-contained cloud infrastructure as described above would certainly count as a private cloud, but there are other things to take into account besides the physical location of the servers themselves. For example, if a similar infrastructure, controlled by an enterprise, is located in a third-party data center operator's facility, is that still a private cloud?

Things to consider include:

  • Who owns and manages the cloud platform itself?
  • Are other companies' virtual machines are hosted on the same cloud platform?
  • Who ends up being liable if SLAs are breached?
  • Who manages and controls the applications running on the cloud platform?
  • Could a third party be compelled and able to hand over data to law enforcement bodies?
  • Is the enterprise is connected to its cloud infrastructure over a private or public network?

If you think of a private cloud as something acceptable to companies that find running applications in a public cloud unacceptable, then perhaps the most helpful way to define a private cloud — even if it is not a technical definition — is this: It is simply a cloud solution that offers a significant proportion of the benefits of a public cloud, while addressing all the concerns that using a public cloud may raise. Depending on the organization in question, these concerns are likely to include physical location and ownership, application control, data security and liability for breaches of SLAs.

It's worth pointing out that some private cloud solutions have the capability to "cloud-burst" into a public cloud at peak times when additional resources are needed. The definition above almost certainly still holds for this type of system though, as most organizations will only cloud-burst less-important applications (in terms of data security, compliance and so on) to free up resources in their private clouds for more important or sensitive ones.

Despite this lack of a technical definition, there's no doubt that private clouds are more than just an idea: the likes of Arjuna, Elastra, Cassatt, Enomaly all have offerings that fall within this loose definition, and more are in the pipeline. Private clouds are here, and they are here now, even if no one knows exactly how to define them.

Paul Rubens is a journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.

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This article was originally published on Jan 27, 2010
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