Are Private Clouds Just IaaS?

Cloud computing can be a difficult technological decision for brands to make because the terminology surrounding various cloud products is tough to decipher at times. SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud; it’s a veritable alphabet soup that can leave you in a fog trying to figure out all on your own. As you do your own research, you will no doubt find that there are similarities between cloud products. This applies, in particular, to Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS solutions, and Private Clouds.

While both provide similar features, such as infrastructure, data center space, and access to applications, the two are not one and the same. Understanding the difference between these two cloud-based services can help your company discover the cloud solutions that deliver the computing resources needed for success.

Is IaaS a Private Cloud Product?

The simple answer to this question is no. IaaS is not a replacement for or on equal footing with a private cloud in terms of being a suitable cloud computing solution. Although some view IaaS as synonymous with a private cloud, IaaS is far more limited because, as the name suggests, it is largely a focus on infrastructure. A private cloud, on the other hand, is far more robust and has potential to deliver computing resources far beyond the infrastructure focus of an IaaS cloud computing platform.

IaaS can certainly be deployed as part of a private cloud, but it cannot match the full breadth of offerings available in a private cloud environment. For starters, a private cloud can be established independent of other computing resources and function similar to an on-site data center. In this case, a private cloud environment can still be managed virtually while offering a number of additional services not available with a strictly IaaS solution. Private clouds can also be packaged as a comprehensive cloud computing product managed by cloud vendors. In this latter case, a hosted cloud would incorporate both the traditional infrastructure resources of an IaaS solution, while also delivering 24/7 IT management resources, security, and access for users.

Again, IaaS is not a substitute for or synonymous with private clouds. IaaS can be a part of a private cloud solution, but you get much more bang for your buck in a private cloud computing environment.

What is IaaS?

Infrastructure as a Service, as it is formally known, IaaS is a cloud computing model that relies on a cloud vendor to hose the hardware equipment, operating systems, and other IT components to help a brand power its applications and online presence. This includes, but is not limited to, the wiring that connects servers in data centers to network components and the internet. It also includes all of the storage equipment, servers, and other computing resources that power connectivity and applications. These hardware pieces are located offsite in an IaaS solution and managed by a cloud vendor.

How Does IaaS Work?

IaaS relies on internet connectivity on both ends of the connection. Your company must have an internet connection to access the IaaS computing and storage resources, and if your employees work remotely, they likewise need an internet connection to take advantage of the IaaS setup. The cloud vendor also has to maintain a reliable internet connection so you and your employees can access the resources.

The cloud vendor handles setup, management, and maintenance of all the hardware equipment that powers the network infrastructure. Employees can then access the virtual machines set up on the network to complete daily work responsibilities, run applications, and store data. An IaaS solution can be delivered in one of three models:

  • Public cloud – every customer the cloud vendor works with sends their data across the same network infrastructure and stores data on the same servers.
  • Private cloud – your company can have a managed IT infrastructure only where a third-party vendor cares for all of your IT infrastructure, either on-site or offsite. Your company is the only one operating on that infrastructure and the only data transmitted across it is yours.
  • Hybrid cloud – it is also possible to set up your IaaS solution as a hybrid scenario. In this case, your company has access to its own servers and transmits its data on a different part of the network than other users, but the infrastructure is still offsite and is isolated in a broader public cloud environment for a slightly higher degree of security than a public cloud.

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What is Private Cloud Computing?

A private cloud is an entirely different beast than IaaS solutions. The private cloud can be defined as a set of computing resources and services offered over the internet from a third-party vendor or in a private internal network. In either case, a private cloud is only available to select users. A private cloud can be deployed through a public cloud environment where the resources, software, and hardware of an individual user (company) is isolated from other customers using the public cloud service. Conversely, a private internal network managed on-site by a cloud vendor delivers all of the same services and platforms of a private cloud in a public environment, known as a hybrid cloud, but it comes with the added benefit of greater control over the services, equipment, software, and security of the cloud environment.

Regardless of how you deploy your private cloud, it offers the benefits of a public cloud such as self-service and access, scalability, and flexibility. In addition, a private cloud brings with it a customization of resources, dedicated servers and data storage, and security that includes internal company firewalls and security software from the host that secures the cloud environment.

What are the Differences between Private Clouds and IaaS?

The differences between private clouds and IaaS were touched on earlier, but it is worth revisiting the concept now that each separate product has been more clearly defined. One of the most important differences to understand between private cloud products and IaaS solutions is control.

With an IaaS solution, you maintain responsibility for a lot of issues involved in computing while surrendering some of the important factors. A cloud vendor is responsible for servers, virtualization (such as virtual machines), data storage and security, and networking (capacity, speed, reliability, etc.). You are still responsible for factors such as applications, runtimes, security and integration with on-site systems, and databases. This can become a real problem if a public cloud vendor cannot guarantee reliable uptime, suffers numerous security breaches, or over-extends its computing resources across numerous customers resulting in poor performance for your applications.

Conversely, a private cloud provides your company with a greater sense of control over more of your cloud computing resources and cloud environment. A private cloud is as close to infinitely customizable as you will get in cloud computing. You can choose the amount of storage space, server capacity, and network bandwidth needed for ideal infrastructure performance, and you also get a say in the software setup on your network, the nature of virtualization, and the security measures imposed on your cloud computing system.

Moreover, you not only have control over how your network looks, but in some cases you can opt to take control over certain aspects of the cloud environment. This gives a better sense of security for data and operations, as well as improved access for your employees.

When Should a Private Cloud be Used?

Now that you know what the difference is between a private cloud and IaaS, the only decision left to deal with is when each one is an ideal option. When it comes to a private cloud product like CompleteCloud from Avatara, it is best for a number of scenarios. First and foremost, if your company operates in an industry or niche in which there are restrictions, expectations, and/or laws in place regarding data security, a private cloud product offers the strictest security measures capable of complying with requirements such as HIPAA data protection in the healthcare industry.

If customization of services and hardware is important to your company, CompleteCloud again comes out as a top choice. Most IaaS cloud vendors simply offer plan packages to select from that focus more on storage options and performance. You pay for what you need and operate on the same systems delivered to all customers. If your operations require special operating systems, particular software, or any other customized option, a private cloud is the better route to go.

Finally, if you want strict access controls on your network, a private cloud ensures that your employees can work remotely or stay connected on the go while traveling for business without sacrificing productivity or security. CompleteCloud is a private cloud product with greater access controls and ensured security for those employees connecting remotely.

When Should IaaS be Used?

Make no mistake, private cloud and IaaS are not the same things. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for IaaS in the cloud computing world. The primary appeal and benefit of IaaS is the ability to virtualize both software and hardware. Companies with a smaller budget for virtualization or with minimal requirements from infrastructure might find IaaS as a suitable option. IaaS is generally a more affordable entry into the world of virtualization. It is easily scaled for periods when your demand for resources is greater and the bandwidth you need is greater. Likewise, it can quickly and easily scale back down when demand subsides. IaaS is also quite flexible. You can add and subtract additional services with relative ease.

All of this comes with a relatively affordable price tag, though like many things in life, you will find that with IaaS you often get what you pay for. Cloud vendors can afford to keep IaaS service plans low because the group of customers using IaaS deployed on a public cloud all share the financial burden of supporting that system.

Finally, it is worth keeping in mind that the more you require in terms of infrastructure, virtualization software, and network performance, the more you may find that a full transition to a private cloud is the clear choice to make to meet your goals.

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