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The Private Cloud Is Dead By @XOComm | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]
There's a critical misconception about the private cloud still making the rounds even after years of corporate adoption

Depending on whom you listen to, the private cloud is either dead or on the cusp of a major market breakthrough. Some tech pundits argue this technology has already been replaced by more efficient public cloud offerings and businesses just need time to catch up, while others claim there's a bright future for private solutions.

Research supports the latter - according to IDC, spending on hosted private cloud services should hit $24 billion by 2016. Why? Because there's real value in this model. Here's a look at five compelling advantages of the private cloud.

It's Not On-Premises (Necessarily)
As noted by a recent Business 2 Community article, there's a critical misconception about the private cloud still making the rounds even after years of corporate adoption: that it must be on-premises. At first glance, the idea makes sense - public clouds are always hosted off-site because they cater to multiple tenants, while private alternatives come with security of locally deployed servers.

In fact, the difference between private and public doesn't rest with resource location but with how these resources are distributed. On-premises and dedicated private cloud models offer a 1:1 service ratio - all compute power is available to a single company. Virtual private clouds (VPCs), meanwhile, operate much like virtual private servers (VPS), giving companies more control over security and access but still drawing from a pool of shared resources.

Put simply, one critical advantage of the private cloud is flexibility: it can be on-premises, off-site, 1:1 or part of a virtualized server.

It's More Secure
According to a recent InfoWorld article, cloud security often boils down to perception. Despite technology advances, public clouds are perceived as insecure because company data is "out there" and, as such, vulnerable to attack, while private clouds allow business to keep data close at hand. Both public and private cloud providers have teams of IT professionals working on ways to defuse attacks and keep data safe - and yes, the gap in security isn't nearly as wide as it was five years ago.

Nonetheless, private clouds come out on top. Why? Because in the private model, companies have direct control over data access and permissions, which means more than just defining who can look at what data, when and why. Whether on-premises or off-site, the granular control offered by private clouds provides the security visibility missing from provider-handled public defenses.

It's Ideal for "Certain" Apps
Forbes points out that the public cloud is better in "nearly every way for most applications," so why would companies still choose a private cloud? Because enterprises, midsize and small businesses, all have something in common: applications that should never make the jump. These might be in-house legacy apps that are essential to business function but simply aren't built for a cloud environment, or applications that handle highly sensitive consumer data. Sure, public clouds can handle HIPAA or PCI compliance, but just moving this data from private servers to a public alternative comes with risk.

In some cases, applications are designed to run within limited network parameters. Financial apps, risk management solutions or HR data handling apps don't benefit from wide-open space and may in fact do worse on public hardware. Unified communications (UC) technology is another good example if you're running a cloud-based PBX or SIP trunking system; you don't want high-level conference calls and video chats routed through public channels.

It's About Data Sovereignty
Who owns your company data? The answer is obvious but can become obfuscated in the public cloud. Using a private cloud, businesses know exactly where data is stored: either on-premises or in a specific server location. Public alternatives, meanwhile, maximize resource distribution by hosting data wherever it benefits the network at large. This means some of your data could be stored nearby, some in another state and some in another country; in the event of a lawful request for data access, public providers may not be required to notify you that your data is being  handled because it's stored on their servers.

Ultimately, companies want data sovereignty: control over data storage, movement and replication. Leveraging public cloud resources means giving up a measure of this control for better infrastructure access. Private clouds offer the same access without the need to hand over your data.

It's Going Open Source
Enterprise-grade open source private clouds are also on the horizon. ZDnet reports that Rackspace recently rolled out a 99.99 percent service level agreement (SLA) for OpenStack offerings. Often considered the domain of public providers, open-source solutions have seen significant improvements in security, reliability and standardization, making them viable platforms for private clouds.

Is the private cloud dead? As an on-premises only, local IT-managed offering, absolutely. As a scalable, secure, sovereign and open-source alternative, not even close.

About John Grady
John Grady, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at XO Communications, the industry leading provider of cloud hosted PBX and other cloud solutions for businesses across a variety of industries. In this role, Grady is responsible for the marketing of Managed Services, MPLS IP-VPN and other XO networking offerings, Applications Performance Management (APM) and the XO Security products.

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