The Hosting News published an informative article on Private Clouds on 20 January. As our previous blog of 17 Jan, “What’s with cloud computing?”, suggests there can be a lot of misconceptions as to what this phenomenon is all about – as “one of the biggest IT buzz words of the last few years” cloud computing has brought “incredible promise” to the world of information technology but how could it be good for your business?

Firstly, let’s address the definition. Or, perhaps we should say definitions. Even amongst our staff here at Veber we are able to have a healthy discussion as to how we could define “Cloud” services, such is the dichotomy of opinion. “Cloud” refers to a computing system in which tasks are assigned through a combination of connections, service and software over a network. This collective of connections is known as ‘the cloud’ and is available to small and medium sized businesses alike. Everyone can reap the benefits of a large infrastructure which can be easily developed without having to implement and administer it directly. These can have big advantages in terms of cost but those advantages can be outweighed by security concerns and uptime issues.

Private cloud services aim to lessen, if not eliminate, those concerns by dedicating exclusive hardware to each user. Instead of your data being stored off “in the cloud” somewhere nondescript, you can point to a group of servers in a data center knowing that your data, and your data alone is stored on them. So why choose this option?

Dedicated hardware means increased security. Much like a dedicated or colocated server, the security of your private cloud depends on a variety of factors. However, if you have the proper physical security, anti-virus software, and firewall rules in place, you can rest assured your data is as safe as if it were sitting right next to your desk. With a private cloud, you know where your servers are located and that the proper physical and network security is in place. You can meet and talk to those in charge of providing support for your hardware and come visit it if you like.

Better flexibility. This is one of the most alluring benefits of cloud computing. The ability to spin up and tear down a server in a matter of minutes is incredibly powerful and useful. No longer is there any wasted effort in trying to size a server beforehand when you can create a server on the fly. Need more disk space? More RAM? More CPU? No problem. With private cloud computing, you can reallocate resources in moments without worrying about finding a physical server that will have the resources your new server needs.

Better resource management. Virtualisation significantly increases the value of your physical server hardware. Instead of having 5 servers that average 10% CPU utilization, you can virtualise the 5 servers on one physical server, sharing the resources. This decreases rack space, power usage, and is easier to manage. This also allows you to create copies of your servers and have them up and running very quickly, now that they have been virtualised. If you have the proper resource management tools installed on your server, you can automatically allocate the appropriate resources to a server when it needs it or turn off unused servers during low usage; an extraordinarily powerful and efficient way to manage your servers.

Combine with a SAN to allow for improved protection against disasters. When you connect a SAN to your private cloud, incredible redundancy can be achieved. Not only can you load balance between servers, automatically shifting server resources between servers on the fly, but in an N+1 environment (having at least 1 extra server than absolutely necessary), you can shut down one server without causing downtime. Imagine performing maintenance on your server like adding more RAM, replacing a hard drive, or upgrading software, without experiencing any downtime. When configured correctly you could power off one server and it would automatically shift the virtual servers over to an available server in your cloud. Taking your disaster protection up one level, you could have another SAN in another data center and perform SAN to SAN replication for a hot site DR environment capable of full recovery in less than an hour.

Save time and money.The best part about a private cloud is that not only do you get all of the great benefits of virtualization and security, but it can be cheaper and less of a hassle then hosting your own servers or buying dedicated servers. If your company has more than 2 servers, it could benefit from virtualization. If your company has more than 10 servers, it could benefit from private cloud computing with a dedicated SAN and multiple physical host servers. The public cloud revolutionized Information Technology forever; the private cloud brings the benefits to the masses.

A Private Cloud is not the right solution for everyone but a managed data center operator like Veber can make the transition to private cloud computing an affordable process and enable you to fully experience all of the great benefits of the private cloud.

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