Private Cloud or Public Cloud?
Author:Kyle Falkenhagen, CSC
Should an enterprise employ public or private cloud platforms? Most companies these days aren’t going to choose one or the other. Depending on their needs, they are likely to embrace a mix of the two. What matters most in the decision is understanding which environment is best suited for which workloads and how to tie the two together effectively.
Private Cloud or Public Cloud? explains the differences between public and private clouds, explores how to effectively apportion workloads, and examines the orchestration and automation that lie at the center of a successful hybrid cloud strategy.
Let’s address the real and perceived differences between public and private clouds.
Provisioning Speed. An oft-cited advantage of public clouds is how quickly they can be provisioned. The cloud is already there and self-service. In reality, however, there’s no technical reason why it should be more difficult to provision services on a properly configured private cloud. Often the stumbling block in private cloud deployments is in adopting a cloud operating model - one with the people and process changes necessary to support the time-to-provision speeds seen in public clouds.
Security and Isolation. Data held in some workloads needs to be more secure than others. Private cloud environments offer the same types of assurance as with other IT infrastructure you own and manage, where you have exclusive physical and virtual access to the system and its components. Recently, many have started to realize that public clouds are secure, too. In fact, public cloud providers make the case that their best practices, strict policies and redundancies result in systems that are more secure and robust than private cloud environments. However, public clouds differ significantly from private clouds in the variety, source and vetting of workloads they handle.
Stack Visibility. Control over and visibility into the stack are additional areas where the two differ. Private cloud environments provide visibility into the full stack, which enables an IT manager to monitor the infrastructure, virtualization layers and applications. Public clouds don’t offer access to the infrastructure or virtualization layers. You can start monitoring only at the OS level up through the application level. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it runs counter to the expectations of most IT departments. They’re accustomed to full stack visibility. In addition, the tools they use on a daily basis are geared toward that model. The private cloud can provide much more flexibility in storage, compute and other resources for expansion.
SLAs. Service-level guarantees are another matter. Private clouds offer the greatest possible control through SLAs, with some vendors able to guarantee SLAs of up to 99.99 percent availability. Public clouds offer certain levels of assurance in the way workloads are distributed or the way data is housed. For example, workloads can be guaranteed not to share racks or servers, and data may be guaranteed to be maintained in multiple copies across a specified number of data centers. However, these architectural characteristics are not tied to performance or financial guarantees as a true SLA is. This may be a factor to consider if a workload’s performance is critical.
Cost. Another area of confusion relates to cost. Many people are led to believe that private cloud is always more expensive to operate than public cloud, but this is not true in many situations. Yes, public cloud is less expensive to operate when workloads are dynamic.
Orchestration Adds Value, Agility and Security
With their differences, public and private clouds are highly complementary but suited for significantly different workloads. What makes an effective marriage of public and private clouds? What do organizations need to put the right workload on the right infrastructure at the right time - while meeting all business, cost, performance and security requirements? A hybrid cloud strategy gives IT managers pause if they have hundreds or thousands of workloads to manage. It might seem easier for the enterprise to put only simple, non-mission-critical workloads on public clouds. Or, it might choose only private cloud infrastructure to avoid having to make decisions about apportioning loads or safeguarding data.
These differences highlight the importance of brokering workloads between these different environments and ensuring that workloads end up in the right environment based on both their technical requirements and their unique business, governance and compliance needs. Orchestration is a critical element of today’s hybrid cloud solutions, allowing an enterprise to move into the digital realm, putting workloads in exactly the right place at the right time, and substantially automating a company’s business processes.
Cloud orchestration enables a company to focus on its central purpose, its customers. That is, companies that employ a true hybrid cloud strategy with orchestration can focus on the services and products that generate value for their customers. The combination of a self-service catalog with orchestrated blueprints for IaaS, PaaS, and IT as a Service makes everything available as a service. This hybrid cloud environment helps reduce the cost, complexity and time to market for IT services. This enables central IT to transform its role into that of a hybrid cloud service broker, and allows development and IT operations teams to increase the speed and frequency of software releases without sacrificing the quality of software in production.
Solutions for cloud orchestration, such as CSC’s Agility Platform, create a virtual infrastructure that’s capable of automatically provisioning and destroying resources for workloads; apportioning the needed compute, memory and storage requirements; and applying consistent security and governance controls. Vendor neutrality is an important distinction of the CSC Agility Platform. Its technology impartiality enables CSC’s orchestration solution to coordinate workloads across a range of public cloud providers as well as privately operate cloud architectures from leading solution providers.
The ability to transparently and deftly move workloads among clouds of any type gives the enterprise an important edge in negotiations. A company no longer has to feel obligated to commit to a proprietary cloud solution and has the freedom to open negotiations for services among multiple cloud and solution providers.
The only constant in the cloud landscape is change. By having a cloud management platform, organizations are buying into a future that allows them to be in the driver’s seat as new clouds and features become available, accelerating their time to market and ROI.