Private Cloud: Dead or Alive?

“For Cloudtrek, the key thing is using the private cloud deployment to solve specific business issues,” said Larry Snodgrass.

Interview with Larry Snodgrass, Vice President of Channel Sales, US-based CSP Cloudtrek.

Hyperscalers like AWS, Google and Azure are gaining market share quite fast currently. How alive is the market for hosted private cloud still? sat down with Larry SnodGrass, Vice President of Channel Sales of US-based cloud service provider (CSP) Cloudtrek, to discuss the pros and cons of private cloud versus public cloud usage as well as the questions to address when choosing one cloud solution over another.

“While public hyperscalers certainly dominate the news, we continue to see healthy growth in the private cloud space – particularly with larger organizations in the mid-market and enterprise spaces with business line applications that are stable, with small -variable workloads,” said Larry Snodgrass. “It’s important to understand that not all applications are best suited to reside on a hyperscale platform – likewise not all applications should be deployed on a private cloud solution.”

“At the end of the day, companies like Cloudtrek that are growing in the private cloud IaaS space understand that it’s not about competing with hyperscalers like AWS, Google, and Azure – it’s about complementing them to provide customers with the best, most cost-effective solution possible,” added Mr. Snodgrass. “Along with that, providing solutions to our customers to help them easily move workloads, applications, and data across multiple cloud providers is an important factor for long term viability and cost control.”

What benefits do hosted private cloud deployments currently have over public cloud deployments?

“In the case of Cloudtrek, larger workloads will typically have a cost that is around a third or less than the cost of a utility / hyperscale solution. Plus, it’s a fixed not a variable cost. Not only minimizing cost, but also achieving cost control while maximizing performance are topics still near and dear to CFOs that we work with. Also, the time to value component is something that we’ve consistently heard about from the CIOs of our customers. While the ability to deploy infrastructure quickly is important, it’s equally important to our customers to be able to quickly have their IT staff, like system administrators, up to speed and productive. With a private cloud solution like Cloudtrek, the customer can either bring native tools like VMWare/VSphere that they’re already familiar with, or they can utilize our UI which is intuitive and easy to use. With Cloudtrek’s UI, for example, we can have a system administrator trained and competent in using our service in 4 hours or less versus several weeks.  Support and service is also critical for many of our customers.”

How about security and performance, does a private cloud model still offer any advantages compared to a public cloud deployment?

“It can, but the security of a private cloud depends on multiple factors. Cloudtrek deploys the proper mix of physical security, anti-virus, and dedicated firewalls – while offering 3rd Party services from SOC providers with 24/7 monitoring for highly sensitive operations.  Private Clouds also allow segmentation of security at each level of network, compute, and storage. This level of security is much more difficult to achieve in a public cloud environment.”

“From a performance perspective, most of our customers have seen benefits with private cloud due to things like – having components of the environment like storage completely dedicated to them. Next to that we utilize SSD to achieve high IOPS and guaranteed performance. You also get some performance benefits from continued equipment refreshes at the start of every 4th year. At the end of the day, private cloud customers tend to see better reliability metrics due to the extraordinary level of personal consulting, support, server maintenance, higher end equipment, more frequent equipment refreshes, and solutions more custom tailored to a customer’s individual goals.”

Organizations who have decided to go for a hosted private cloud solution, what questions do they have to get answers to before getting started?

“At a high level, two components come to mind: Firstly, have they fully vetted the solution provider they’re planning to deploy on? – What are the financials like? What types of architectures are typically deployed by the provider? What is the time to value to deploy on the provider? What does support look like? And most importantly, if something goes awry with the provider, how do they get their data back? Secondly, have you fully addressed security when moving to the cloud? We feel this is a component that many companies overlook in their cloud deployment preparations. Just because you’re moving to a hosted provider doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve accounted for security needs. At the end of the day, organizations need to remember that security is still their responsibility. Not just ensuring you’ve implemented all the physical security needed, but also have proper training of your staff to avoid potential security breaches through things such as social hacking.”

“On a more granular level, there’s a plethora of questions that you’ll want to address. Questions like: What problem are they trying to solve? What is the budget? Have they done a cloud readiness assessment? What workloads do they want to move? Are these older applications, and if so, are they a good fit for cloud? Will any applications need a re-write to be cloud ready? What is the size of the applications they want to move? What migration support/expertise do you have? How do they want to handle security/firewalls? What monitoring/reporting tools will they need? What compliance needs do they have – auditing requirements?”

How alive is the on-premises private cloud model currently, and which types of users are still investing in this type of cloud infrastructure?

“Companies continue to have a requirement to hold data in-house for compliance and control purposes; so we believe it’s likely to continue to have a place in the business world. Second, many organizations – particularly enterprise companies – have already invested heavily into on premise equipment and solutions. If an organization already has racks of gear, they’re unlikely to quickly move into a hosted solution unless there is a serious compelling event or the infrastructure needs to be completely refreshed.”

“While infrastructure as a service is clearly one of the top two growth segments in the market, private cloud spending is still robust. The definition of private cloud spending is a bit tricky due to the complexity of the various custom pieces that can be included in that category, but Technology Business Research is predicting $69 Billion in spend on private cloud solutions in 2018 – up around 14% (CAGR).”

What kind of applications are definitely requiring private cloud infrastructure underneath?

“Any application that has stringent compliance requirements that call for a single tenant environment – where simply logically isolating the applications aren’t sufficient.  Companies still have need of this in specific areas such as HIPAA and PCI compliance – where meeting audit requirements can’t be achieved in any environment outside of a single tenant private environment.”

How important is the ‘private cloud’ component in a ‘hybrid cloud’ mix, and how do you expect it to be within a few years?

“Just like determining which applications or workloads belong on a private cloud infrastructure or a public cloud infrastructure (or neither), the importance of private cloud in your hybrid cloud architecture is dependent on how many of your workloads would be best suited to a steady state infrastructure. Different workloads require varying degrees of scalability, resiliency, and security to optimize performance against cost. Employing a hybrid solution can help solve some of the hardware limitations that come with a private cloud as well as the challenge of controlling cost in a public cloud. Plus, a hybrid solution can give you some level of extra protection so that if something happens to a specific cloud infrastructure, you’re less likely to have an entire application go down. I think that’s one of the lessons we learned from events like the 2017 AWS outage – that solely relying on one type of infrastructure can sometimes cause business continuity issues for an organization.”

“We expect private cloud to continue to be an important component of discussion the next few years for companies when planning their hybrid architecture deployments – for the same reasons we discussed earlier about the ongoing importance of private clouds. Until we can dispense with some of the unique challenges associated with utility / public cloud deployments for certain types of workloads; we’re unlikely to see the importance of private cloud as part of the hybrid cloud mix to be completely displaced in the near future.”

To conclude, what are the main ingredients for reaping the full benefits of a hosted private cloud deployment?

“For Cloudtrek, the key thing is using the private cloud deployment to solve specific business issues. Perhaps they simply want to get out of the equipment business. If you’re a manufacturing company for example, do you really want to invest in infrastructure and the support of that?  It’s not just expensive, it’s also time-consuming. Things like replacing or expanding capacity, patching, and supporting ongoing operations and maintenance. Companies involved in M&A see benefits of compressing time to consolidate infrastructures – meaning quicker integration time of the companies themselves. We also help solve procurement time issues. We help solve compliance challenges. Some companies have incremental storage challenges with capital constraints to go out and buy a whole new storage platform. Some companies are challenged with under-utilization of servers. Perhaps they’re struggling with outages. There’s thousands of business cases for private cloud. At Cloudtrek, we strive to understand those specific business issues that our customers are trying to solve first. Private cloud is alive, defiantly strong, and growing, but we don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ model.  Our clients have very specific needs and requirements that weren’t being met by the various public cloud providers.”

About Cloudtrek and Larry Snodgrass

Founded in 2012, Cloudtrek helps companies across the US quickly deploy high performance and secure private cloud solutions; preserving their need for greater control, predictable costs, and ease of use. The company is headquartered in Irvine, CA.

Larry Snodgrass serves as Channel Chief (Vice President of Channel Sales) for Cloudtrek. Mr. Snodgrass is a 25-year veteran in the technology field working as both an entrepreneur and having tenure at organizations such as Qwest (now CenturyLink) as well as several national cloud IaaS service providers.

To learn more about Cloudtrek, visit their website here.