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Monday, 08 December 2014 17:31

Public versus private: should you be using a private cloud?

Posted By  Brian Green

Public cloud gets a great deal or press but public cloud has its uses.  We look at five use cases that make best use of a private cloud, and explain why public cloud – in these cases - doesn’t make the cut.

Choosing to build a private cloud can mean enhanced agility and responsiveness, as well as a better use of resources. The challenge is to select workloads that are easy to migrate and add value to the business. New workloads that scale out are a good choice to take advantage of a private cloud's architecture as well as those that can be standardised for access via a self-service catalogue. Organisations will want to avoid using a private cloud for monolithic legacy applications as it will need to run its workloads on dedicated servers, meaning a sub-optimal use of resources.

So should you be using a private cloud? Below are five use cases that make best use of a private cloud, and can deliver a superior return on investment as a result:

1. Development and testing

DevTest is the classic private cloud use case with good reason. Developers and quality assurance test engineers require little training on how to use the cloud and can therefore immediately begin using it once it is set up. Development requires easy and frequent access to resources and the ability to configure those resources dynamically. This means access to many servers for testing and measuring loads, but infrequently. By delivering a pool of shared resources on demand, a private cloud provides development and quality assurance teams with the power to provision the resources they need when they need it and then de-provision when it’s finished. There is added value in having developers use the cloud because as they become more aware of its capabilities, they can start to use it for new application design by building cloud-ready workloads to address other use cases. This creates a more efficient testing environment that will increase the speed of deployment cycles for bringing new applications into production.

2. New business ventures 

New business opportunities can be challenging to set up and costly if they fail. Capitalising on changing market dynamics often requires speed and experimentation which is not easy in a static datacentre environment. However, a private cloud offers a readily available pool of resources that can be deployed quickly to support a new online store or a test market for a web campaign or a new product. If successful, the new venture can easily scale as it grows. Equally important is the fact that if the project is unsuccessful or needs to change, the IT assets used can be redeployed just as easily and quickly. Using a private cloud to capture new opportunities enables faster experimentation by line of business units while limiting investment and potential losses during the start-up phase.

3. Peak loads

Every organisation has those moments when it needs more computing capacity. Expected events such as holiday website traffic or an end-of-quarter close, as well as unexpected peaks like a demand spike from a successful promotion, mean a need for more computing power to capitalise on opportunities. Historically this could mean tying up resources through over-provisioning to ensure enough capacity. In contrast, handing these peak loads in a private cloud enables organisations to develop a streamlined response to events and plan for the unexpected. As new, cloud-optimised applications come online, the organisation can also take advantage of external public clouds to shift work outside the datacentre automatically and gain access to even more capacity. In short, a hybrid cloud approach provides the ultimate deployment flexibility. By leveraging cloud automation, the organisation can expand and contract computing capacity to address issues without over-provisioning, thereby increasing revenue whilst managing costs.

4. Batch and data processing applications 

Batch and data processing applications such as risk modelling, simulations, big data and new back-office applications are all standardised, time sensitive and run for short periods of time. They also require significant computing power. The standardised nature of these applications makes them easy additions to a private cloud's self-service catalogue, enabling the user to deploy the application rapidly and requisite resources on demand, and then shut it down upon completion of the task. This type of workload is closely aligned with the peak load solutions and will benefit from the same hybrid cloud approach explained previously. The on-demand scalability and flexibility of a private cloud to meet the short term computing needs of these applications eliminates the need for dedicated resources and reduces the cost of delivery.

5. Geographic expansion

Even in the digital age, getting closer to customers and better serving their needs often requires organisations to expand their footprint by opening traditional physical locations such as new branches, stores, factories or distribution centres. Typically these locations have standardised IT systems and applications on site that regularly entail a labour intensive set up and local maintenance presence. A private cloud can allow the business to manage common resources centrally that are predominantly accessed by local staff. As a result, IT can set up new locations without putting staff o​n-site, which can help lower costs and enhance the business' ability to operate outside of geographic restrictions and grow revenue.

About the Author

Brian Green is Managing Director for SUSE UK and Ireland and has over 25 years’ experience in IT sales, marketing and management. Prior to SUSE he worked as a Regional Director, Technical Director and EMEA marketing leadership roles at Novell. Previously he worked at Computacenter (Europe’s largest independent provider of IT infrastructure services) as a product manager, was business development and sales operations manager at Interface Systems International, and EMEA product management lead for Advanced Logic Research.

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