The private cloud has received flak from some proponents of public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), who argue that the falling costs of public cloud offerings, along with rapid development of new services and APIs in those ecosystems, has made on-premises IT obsolete. The ongoing pricing wars between IaaS providers would seem to underscore this point, with storage and compute becoming less expensive at a torrid pace. Egnyte chief Vineet Jain even foresees a future of $0 cloud storage - how could any company resist the appeal of that?
Finding the right cloud setup for business requirements isn't an either/or choice between private and public infrastructure, though. Platforms such as Amazon Web Services are excellent for supporting and scaling a huge variety of workloads, but there are still particular tasks that can be run even more efficiently on private infrastructure.
In other words, on-premises and cloud-hosted environments can now coexist in an arrangement that makes it easier for teams to allot each process the resources and levels of security and control that it merits. A growing number of IaaS vendors are realizing the staying power of the private cloud, while Eucalyptus continues to provide the leading software that makes it more feasible and economical to run a AWS-compatible cloud for tasks such as application development and testing.
Less Expensive Public Cloud Services Don't Remove Need for Private Cloud
One of the key selling points of the public cloud is economics, particularly the pay-as-you-go business model and the opportunity to turn steep CAPEX into more manageable OPEX. Plus, with the price of storage such as Amazon S3 continually falling, organizations may have extra incentive to consider running more workloads on public cloud infrastructure.
Still, fixation on the declining pricing of public cloud services obscures how the private cloud is not only integral to meeting particular business requirements, but more economically and operationally feasible than ever before. It's not just private cloud software vendors that are making this case - as GigaOM's Barb Darrow recently reported, public cloud providers are gradually acknowledging the importance of private deployments.
Some of them have supported the use of legacy components for some tasks, although the more interesting development is the focus on building services that interface with on-premises infrastructure through public APIs. Google recently did this with its BigQuery database, but AWS APIs have long been addressable through private cloud appliances powered by Eucalyptus.
Users can choose their own hardware and create an AWS-like environment that provides superior flexibility for moving workloads around, keeping costs under control and fully utilizing existing IT investments. Data can be keep privately in a data center to maintain compliance and reduce expenses compared to public, or deployed unchanged to AWS.
It's Worth It To Be In Control of Your IT Destiny for Some Workloads
On the surface, the private cloud - long associated with unacceptable CAPEX and challenging infrastructure management - is becoming easier to operate thanks to open source products and services that permit integration with IaaS. As such, it's becoming a more palatable option for businesses, but the long-term benefits of getting more control over data and operations may be more decisive.
For example, an IDC survey recently found that only 13 percent of enterprise data is stored in the cloud, and that more than half may never be suitable for remote hosting. For companies in similar situations, having granular control over IT and being able to maintain data security and compliance is imperative. Fortunately, the private cloud is increasingly suited to meeting these requirements while enabling efficient software development and testing. Resources can rapidly provisioned and over the long haul users can save money by owning rather than renting their infrastructure.
"If development and deployment of software is a strategic everyday activity, then in most cases private clouds make sense," wrote CEO Mårten Mickos in a comment on a Cloud Borat post. "There is a common perception that controlling your IT destiny is complicated and expensive. It certainly has been so. But today with highly evolved hardware and highly automated cloud platforms, operation of your own infrastructure is becoming easier and less expensive by the day."