Growing interest in private cloud services, notably for ones that allow companies to resell as their own, has been the result of spiking customer demand and appeal for cloud computing solutions.

Private clouds have been gaining momentum since they offer the same benefits as public platforms, including pay-as-you-go usage models, on-demand provisioning and scalability, while offering enhancements in regard to security, privacy, uptime and control of data, according to to Channel Partners' Tim Burke. However, deploying a private, IaaS cloud platform is no easy task.

"Building a private cloud from scratch, however, can be daunting from technical and cost perspectives," Burke noted. "Hence the rise of pre-built cloud-in-a-box products that seem to remove at least some of the risk and hassle of launching a private cloud."

With some of the risk eliminated, one feature of such deployments is that it requires more firsthand planning on the part of both vendors and customers. To make the most of improved security, uptime and overall control of data, customers must assume some management responsibilities during deployment, whereas public clouds often leave the user out of this process.

Depending on the size of a company and in-house expertise, this could be viewed as either a negative or a positive. But, to enjoy greater security, control and processing speeds, customers will have to sacrifice more time and effort.

Challenges of private cloud deployment
Setting up a private cloud is one of the main challenges of the process, and there are some key questions that enterprise should consider, according to Burke:

  • Whether the private cloud will bridge with existing infrastructure or integrate with legacy systems and data
  • Is it more efficient to have it externally hosted, or are there enough on-premises servers that can be virtualized and scaled for current and future demands?
  • What additional factors must be addressed regarding implementation – i.e., should staff access be tiered and should there be a help desk?

The other main challenge that Burke noted is managing a private cloud, and businesses need to consider these questions with respect to day-to-day management:

  • How should applications be managed and who is responsible for updates and patches?
  • Who handles security issues?
  • Who monitors and tests the system to ensure data and applications are properly backed up and readily retrievable?
  • What metrics are used to determine successful deployment, potential problems and who's in charge of monitoring this?

Opportunities in private clouds
"Each of these questions and many more represent an opportunity for channel partners to claim a place in a customer's quickly expanding plans to implement cloud computing," wrote Burke.

While cloud computing reduces complexity, the private cloud does entail more intricate assessment and planning. However, vendors that conduct assessments and planning prior to deployment can help customers better understand what's possible given their current technology, along with their security, availability and compliance requirements. Designing a private cloud with the help of cloud service providers will help deliver dependable solutions to customers who will seek additional assistance in the future.

Private clouds offer a greater degree of automation, but still require active, hands-on management. Customers that are not suited for these technical challenges can delegate responsibilities to cloud hosting services, which can provide vendors with recurring revenue.

In terms of continued partnerships, customers will come to need additional storage, security and applications in the future, making the opportunities in private cloud computing limitless.