What is private cloud? Is it right for my business?

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The cloud has been with us less than a decade and it is no exaggeration to say that it’s been the game changer in the world of business IT, especially for smaller enterprises. A business that moves its infrastructure and software into the cloud enjoys more storage space, a network that is highly flexible and accessible from any location or internet enabled device. It’s even got eco-friendly credentials and can save a great deal of money due to the fact you don’t have to buy and upgrade hardware every few years.

But just how secure is cloud computing? We all work in an industry in which data has long been our most precious asset, the lifeblood of our businesses, and we protect it like the crown jewels, with constant backups, firewalls, anti-virus software and disaster recovery plans. Cloud solutions ask us to send our data to be stored on remote servers that may be thousands of miles away and shared by many clients accessing services from the same pools of servers across public networks.

So it is easy to see why people are concerned, especially if they’re running a business which deals with extremely sensitive or personal data such as customers’ financial or medical records. And while cloud computing is secure generally, there have been reports of occasional security breaches that have impacted customers and caused trust issues, even with big names like Google, Amazon, GoGrid and Dropbox.

So if you’re not yet in the cloud and are thinking about it, or perhaps have decided the risks of cloud computing may be too great and you want to keep your data onsite, there is another option to consider – private cloud.

What are private cloud services?

This is actually a very good question. There is some confusion as to what constitutes private cloud and many people mix it up with virtualisation, hybrid computing, full cloud services and on site solutions. The truth is private cloud is a mixture of all of these.

Private cloud gives you all the basic cloud services you may be familiar with but users have their resources hosted in a secure data centre. Your own data and files are protected by firewalls with access usually restricted only to employees and partners. The data you put into private cloud goes into your own dedicated servers in the data centre – space that isn’t shared with any other organisation. You also enjoy dedicated leased lines and your own, internal hosting as well as scalability at a low upfront cost.

As there is infrastructure space dedicated to your own organisation, you enjoy a range of advantages compared with the public cloud. Data sovereignty is the most important aspect of private cloud and the reason most users sign up. For companies with sensitive customer data, privacy is paramount and the private cloud ensures they remain compliant while ensuring you still enjoy the many advantages of cloud computing, like demand resource allocation. You also have more customisation and control over the governance of your software and services.

Private cloud goes well beyond simple virtualisation and abstracting the server from the hardware – it is about the delivery of shared computing resources, software and data but delivered via the internet from your providers secure facility. Even if you run several premises, they are all sharing the same data from the same secure private cloud.

So what are the other advantages?

Within the private cloud you can make your own rules to a certain extent. As well as the security and compliance aspects, the private cloud offers other advantages over the public cloud. There is more flexibility and the capacity to deal with minute-to-minute situations and you can add more capacity for applications at certain times of day. You can use your private cloud to speed up applications for customers and extend any services as you need. You can also adjust to business conditions and change services when needed without having to call service providers or wait for scheduled updates.

Improved continuity with private cloud

As it is used by organisations such as banks where network failure could be disastrous, business continuity is one of the main reasons the private cloud is so popular. It is possible to create virtualised operating environments so that any individual failures across the infrastructure don’t cause your systems to collapse. Virtual partitions take their resources from any unaffected servers. In some cases, you can switch non-sensitive functions that don’t require compliance into the public cloud to keep more space in your private cloud. This integration, actually boosts your overall efficiency while still protecting what’s most important.

Is private cloud right for me?

Consider your needs. If your organisation needs tight control over data and assets or you are required to be compliant in industries such as health, finance or defence, then private cloud is the best option. Or, in the case of your business being a growing company and could require an upgrade of your technology resources without a huge cost increase, then private cloud is the solution for you.

Until public cloud providers can offer more security the private cloud remains the best option for companies using sensitive data. If you’d like to know more about your options, get in touch with Empower IT Solutions today.