Top 20 private cloud questions answered

Wednesday, 26 February, 2020


Yes, businesses are moving to the ‘cloud’, but that can happen inside your own data centre.

Where you choose to run your workloads matters. And according to IDC, 85% of respondents say that they will move 50% of their cloud-based applications on premises. That’s a big number, and you might be asking yourself, “what exactly is the appeal of private cloud?”

It’s a highly customisable model that delivers stellar security and control — two major priorities for businesses. But you likely have more questions and curiosities that warrant answers. Keep reading for answers to 20 of the most-asked private cloud questions we’ve received.


1. What exactly is a private cloud?

The super-short answer: it’s a cloud infrastructure built for a specific organisation to meet their unique goals. Here’s your long answer: it’s a cloud computing model built for a specific organisation hosted natively in that company’s own data centre or through a third party’s colocation data centre. It’s generally built to deliver the benefits of cloud but maintain the security a business needs. What makes the private cloud so alluring is its reliability and security, and it’s therefore the prime location to run enterprise workloads.

2. Is having a hyperconverged environment the same as private cloud?

Yes and no. Making the move to HCI is the first step in many organisations’ transformation, but that does not mean you have a complete private cloud. There can be other pieces that you should consider in building out that comprehensive picture. Examples range from security, backup and DR, automation, self-service, and intelligent operations. Not all vendors provide the same capabilities or freedom of choice, so be sure to keep your priorities handy when evaluating a cloud provider.

3. What's the deal with software-defined infrastructure? Do I need that for my private cloud?

Your cloud can only be as strong as its core, so why build it on aging, siloed infrastructure? The right software-defined solution like HCI enables you to build as you grow and eliminate complex, lengthy management, so your business can do what it wants, when it wants, and innovate at lightspeed. Not to mention, reducing your dependency on hardware does great things for the physical layout of your data centre. For example, this company now consumes 83% less space. Woo!

Here are 5 more problems HCI can solve for you!

4. What are the components of an enterprise-grade private cloud?

First off, remember that an enterprise-grade private cloud can be a journey. You don’t need to have every single piece of a private cloud right from the start. The important thing is to start with the correct software-defined solution that will enable you to grow easily to that desired state. As you hunt for the right solution, here is a checklist of features you should look for:

  • Unified management support
  • One-click upgrades
  • Customisable security
  • Built-in data services for file, block, and object storage
  • Sophisticated backup and disaster recovery solutions
  • Tools for automation and self-service
  • Cost governance

5. The industry is saying public cloud is the way of the future — private cloud seems the opposite of that?

First, it’s important to note that when you hear about businesses moving to ‘the cloud’, that doesn’t necessarily mean public cloud (at least not always). No cloud computing model fits all use cases or business needs, so when we say “head to the clouds”, we mean head to your perfect cloud!

Public cloud is suitable for some workloads and not others. For example, the elastic nature and consumption-based charge of a public cloud makes it suitable for unpredictable workloads, especially large volumes of unpredictable workloads. But for many, it’s not always realistic or cost-efficient to run solely on a public cloud, and in some cases, you could get locked into a vendor’s services.

A private cloud still has the agility and sit-back simplicity you want but with the control you need on premises. In short, it’s a simpler, more secure alternative.

6. Why are companies moving certain applications and workloads back to private cloud?

It’s true: IDC has found that 80% of organisations have moved applications out of public cloud and back to private cloud. Part of the reason lies in businesses having incorrect assumptions about public cloud costs, believing it’s more cost-efficient than it is. While it certainly can be, the additional costs associated with staffing, performance remediation, and security gaps can add up. You can read all about these reasons here.

Not to mention, most, if not all, business workloads fall into the ‘predictable’ category. These workloads are used all day, every day. Things like email, Big Data, analytics, and others fall under this category. On average, 75% of all workloads are predictable, but for many, it’s even higher, prompting more businesses to run them where they run best: private cloud.

7. Should I choose private, public, or hybrid cloud?

Private and public cloud models have their own, unique benefits, but for the most part, businesses will get more use out of their private cloud. Think of it this way: your private cloud is your home, and your public cloud is your vacation rental. (Lucky!) The public cloud is an excellent place for unpredictable workloads that need a high level of expandability to support them. But like a vacation home, you can’t keep tabs on your public cloud 24/7, and it’s far less customisable than a built-for-you private cloud. 

The important piece to keep in mind is picking the correct private cloud platform that will make the move to hybrid easy. From there, you can start slowly moving resources and expanding to a hybrid cloud model, allowing you to negotiate between private and public clouds.

8. Are there issues I might encounter if I go “all in” with public cloud?

The public cloud definitely has its place and has done wonders for businesses. And for the right workloads, it’s a good solution. That said, as you evaluate your next steps with the cloud, keep in mind that putting all your eggs in the public cloud basket might result in some of the following challenges.

  • Data gravity: Applications have to go where the data is generated. Traditionally, moving data from its generation point to where it’s needed can be costly and time-consuming.
  • Regulatory concerns: GDPR and other regulatory hiccups can severely limit your ability to even use the public cloud and place data there, making it less reliable.
  • Loss of control: Working with public cloud requires a lot of trust, but not a lot of control. Plus, you won’t be able to deploy or fully protect custom applications.
  • Unpredictable costs: Unless you have a never-ending IT budget, you’ll want a cost-effective cloud. Egress charges and getting data out are costly. And without proper visibility, businesses won’t even know what’s driving their cloud costs.

However, public cloud is an excellent solution to grow into! Rather than choosing public cloud as your one and only cloud solution, you can start with a secure private cloud and slowly move applications to a public cloud as growth demands. A well-built private cloud would also allow you to move to hybrid when ready — and do so easily (see question 12!)

9. Which applications and workloads are commonly run on private cloud as opposed to public?

To put it simply, private clouds are commonly used for predictable workloads, and public clouds can support unpredictable workloads. Sounds simple? It is, but here’s the kicker: according to IDC, predictable workloads account for a majority of workloads. And choosing to run these workloads in the public cloud can be twice as expensive as private.

10. Can I tailor a private cloud to my needs?

Of course! Like we mentioned in question #1, your private cloud is built to meet your unique needs and goals. Building your own cloud means you can customise it to deliver the security, backup, networking, and connectivity standards you need. By contrast, a public cloud is generally a one-size-fits-all solution, which, in actuality, doesn’t fit the majority of businesses. With private cloud, you can customise your services and applications as much as you want — all while maintaining even the most stringent security requirements.

11. What opportunities do I have to automate within a private cloud?

Plenty! Investing in automation enables a self-service model, which allows IT teams to quickly and uniformly provision resources without human error. You have a range of automation tools to choose from (and from various vendors), but in general, they serve similar purposes across the board. It’s about simplifying and speeding up processes and workflows. For example, the process of requesting a virtual machine. How many steps does that take you? 25? 50? More? Automation and self service can cut those down to a single click.

Another major way you can implement automation in your private cloud is through establishing automated security and compliance standards. Many automation tools offer custom security audits (Xi Beam offers 250+), which enables compliance checks for cloud operations. Not to mention, your automation tool is better equipped to identify and remediate security issues before they ever become a problem.

12. Does having a private cloud mean I won't have access to public or hybrid clouds?

No, but it comes down to having the correctly built private cloud that makes moving to hybrid easy. Here’s an abridged checklist: backup to cloud, desktop-as-a-service (DaaS), and effortless application management in private and public clouds (without retooling or reworking). Of course, having an architecture and platform that makes it easy should be an important consideration. Who wants more work?

13. A private cloud sounds complicated. How long does this take to install and set up?

You’d be wrong! It’s among the easiest cloud models to adopt. While some vendors have complicated add-ons and suites, the Nutanix private cloud lets you deploy in hours and scale capacity in just minutes to satisfy business growth — all with no disruption. In fact, it’s as easy as four steps. Watch the video!

14. Just how secure is private cloud, really?

Of all cloud computing models, private cloud is known as the most secure option, but it needs to be built that way. And if the infrastructure you build it on top of is secure, you’ll be in much better hands. Hyperconverged infrastructure utilises a security-by-design approach, meaning security standards and practices are woven into its code, so your private cloud will be set up for success.

Plus, whether you build your own private cloud or choose a vendor-provided cloud, you’ll have better visibility into your environment than a public cloud, so if a threat emerges, you can eliminate it. (This is even easier if you have an automated cloud security service like Xi Beam!)

15. Got any juicy stats to substantiate these private cloud claims? 

Oh, you know. Just a few.

  • 79% of IT leaders are investing in private cloud.
  • You can save 60% on IT operations with private cloud.
  • 50% of applications will be on private cloud within 2 years.
  • 72% of businesses use some kind of private cloud.

16. What's the impact of a private cloud on my overall TCO?

That number will be unique to you, but we can tell you your savings will not go unnoticed. Calculate just how much you’ll save with this handy TCO calculator.

17. Is private cloud management simple or are there numerous tools like my current 3-tier infrastructure?

Solving a Rubik’s cube is more simple than managing 3-tier infrastructure. With private cloud, you’ll get unified control and visibility across resources, apps, data, users, data centres, and remote sites from one elegantly simple UI. Win!

18. Which business sizes benefit the most from private cloud? Is it only for SMBs?

Businesses of any size can use private cloud! Here’s why: it all starts with a powerful hyperconverged infrastructure foundation. From there, your priorities and challenges will determine your next steps. Got backup and disaster recovery nightmares? Address those first. Then, you can add automation and self-service to simplify your game plan. Curious about microsegmentation? Add that later! The point is, you can fine-tune your private cloud to fit your needs. There’s no one-size fits all! 

19. Give me real-world examples of success companies have found using private cloud. 

Here are a few, plus a couple of highlights!

  • JetBlue: Higher ROI, zero additional virtualisation costs, and built-in redundancy for critical workloads.
  • Bottomline Technologies: Higher performance at a lower cost, reduced need for support and maintenance, eliminated silos and increased flexibility.
  • Trek Bikes: Reduced dependency on specialist teams by 66%, cut data centre footprint by 75%, sped up turnaround time for IT requests from weeks to hours. 

Check out even more here.

20. How long does the journey from an HCI-powered private cloud to a fully-functional, effective hybrid cloud take? How do I plan to rollout? 

If you think of one of the bigger public cloud offerings and all the services that they offer, it can be overwhelming. Do you need all of those features, or just pieces of it? It does not have to be complicated or take a long time to implement.

The private cloud solution that you choose needs to be easy and support all your workloads at the core. Roll-outs and adding on components should be fast. Fast, as in less than a day, to add on new components. These new components should not become shelfware because of the complication involved in getting them up and running.

Once enabled, the Nutanix private cloud makes hybrid a simple next step. Nutanix Clusters delivers a nearly identical experience across your private and public environments. You’ll have the ability to move VMs, applications, and licenses seamlessly, forming a True Hybrid Cloud.

The bottom line? The sooner you start, the faster you’ll get there. Test drive hyperconverged infrastructure to start your journey, then contact us to get set up with a private cloud tailored for you. And if you have any more nagging private cloud questions, this page should cover all the bases!

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