For businesses looking to transition to a partially or fully remote workforce, now may be a good time to look into what technologies they’re using to do business. One option worth checking out is a private cloud computing system.
Private cloud users stand to gain more predictable pricing, better security that’s the result of knowing where their data is and having more control over it, and greater customization, according to three providers of private cloud service in Arkansas.
But, before we get into that, some definitions are in order.
“Cloud,” of course, refers to servers that are accessed over the internet and the software and databases that run on them.
“What private cloud means is it’s infrastructure that you own and is not shared with anyone else. So, in a sense, it’s kind of the traditional way of doing things,” Chris Church, enterprise solutions architect for Mainstream Technologies in Little Rock, told Arkansas Business.
The private cloud has “the added little twist of maybe that co-location aspect now that’s come into play as another option for people as opposed to having all the equipment in a server room or in a closet down the hall or something like that,” he said.
Co-location refers to the storing of servers and other equipment owned or used by different businesses in the same data center. “Private cloud can come in a couple of flavors,” Church said.
Businesses can own their equipment and put it in a data center. Some co-location providers rent equipment to businesses. And an on-premises private cloud can be built for a business. A third party isn’t necessarily needed to host a private cloud, but it is costly to do that in-house, so a lot of companies outsource, Church said.
The first benefit of a private cloud over a public cloud is a predictable bill.
“In public cloud, a lot of times you’re being charged for the amount of data that you’re pushing and pulling into that cloud environment,” said Greg Sunderwood, chief technology officer for Ritter Communications of Jonesboro, which has been a private cloud provider since 2016.
“So you have really unpredictable billing, and a lot of customers get a big surprise when they kick off a public cloud initiative and they get their data in there and then they realize how much transactional costs they’re getting for data coming and going into that,” Sunderwood said. “Something [they’re hosting] goes viral and all of a sudden they get a big spike in their traffic; they can see their bills really spike.”
Ritter charges its private cloud customers a flat rate on a subscription basis and rents equipment to them; those charges are included in set monthly bills.
Another advantage private cloud customers have is knowing exactly where their own data is. Ritter, for example, keeps its customers’ private cloud equipment at its new Data Technology Center in northeast Arkansas, which opened last year.
Church said public cloud providers, like Microsoft, Google and Amazon, allow businesses to select a region where their data is stored but don’t reveal the exact location of that data.
Private cloud providers offer greater visibility and control, meaning a business can ensure the performance and the security of its data, he said.
Will Smothers, cloud team lead at Edafio Technology Partners in North Little Rock, echoed that assessment. “We do take a more secure approach, or not necessarily more secure, a more hands-on security approach than the public cloud vendors do,” he said. Edafio has about 22 private cloud business customers.
Charles McDonald, Ritter’s director of cloud solutions product development and solution engineering, said, “One other benefit is the higher level of performance because, with the [private] cloud we’ve engineered and designed, it’s going to give the business customers a higher level of performance than they would expect, a lot of times, going into a public cloud. Because we can provide the bandwidth for them as well as really engineer the environment specifically for what their needs are.”