In a recent article, I argued that when IT deployments reach a certain size, colocation is the most cost-effective infrastructure option. Supporting that argument is a new report from 451 Research, which shows that private clouds often have a lower total cost of ownership than public cloud platforms.
A private cloud is a cloud platform built on private infrastructure, infrastructure under the control of a single organization. Public cloud platforms, in contrast, are multi-tenant: many organizations launch cloud servers on the same underlying bare metal infrastructure and none have insight into or control over the physical layer.
In the last few years, the complexity of building a private cloud on owned and colocated infrastructure has been reduced with the introduction of open source cloud software like OpenStack and its various commercially supported distributions.
For the users of a private cloud, there is little to distinguish it from a public cloud platform. Virtual machines can be deployed and scaled just as easily. Private cloud solutions like OpenStack provide excellent control interfaces and APIs for cloud management. A well-managed private cloud provides everything we’ve come to expect from a large public cloud platform.
Although building a private cloud is clearly more complex than simply launching servers onto someone else’s public cloud, that complexity is mitigated by the cost savings of using a private cloud. The more efficient the private cloud, the greater the cost savings. For an efficiently managed private cloud platform with over 400 virtual machines to each engineer — not atypical in larger deployments — the scales tilt in favor of private cloud.
If organizations choose to host their private cloud infrastructure in a world-class colocation data center, they combine the cost savings of colocation with the efficiency of a private cloud platform.
Of course, infrastructure choice isn’t all about cost. There are many other factors at play, including security, privacy, control, vendor lock-in, and more.
As we’ve previously discussed on this blog, colocation has the edge in most of these areas too. If privacy and security are core concerns for your organization, the optimal solution is to own and control the infrastructure and the software stack that runs on it. With colocated servers, clients have complete control over their hardware: they decide how to architect infrastructure and they have insight into every aspect of its operation.
Opting for a colocated private cloud does not, of course, prevent businesses from using different infrastructure modalities in concert. Although I’ve focused on private clouds in this article, many businesses choose a hybrid cloud architecture of which their private cloud is one component. With a hybrid cloud, the colocated private cloud component can be closely integrated with public cloud servers and with infrastructure housed in legacy on-premises data centers.
A private cloud hosted on colocated servers may well be the combination of cost, security, control, and flexibility that your organization is looking for.