samuel turner

Sam Turner, Spokesperson for iWeb, says:

Imagine the interface, features and benefits of Microsoft Azure, hosted on private servers, within a firewall, in the jurisdiction of your choice, available to your applications, employees or hosting customers, according to your own pricing and access decisions. Now stop imagining and ship it, by following these three steps:

Step 1: Get your head around private cloud

Private Cloud gives you all the benefits of cloud computing and storage, on your own private servers. It differs from Public Cloud in so far as the users of Public Cloud all share the same servers, and are subject to the pricing and terms of use of the Public Cloud provider (e.g. iWeb Cloud, Rackspace Cloud, Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure). With Private Cloud you have the exclusive use of your hardware and pay a fixed rate for software licenses and hardware/data center costs.

Cloud computing itself uses virtualization to pool the resources of several physical computers and allow you to create as many virtual computers (virtual machines, or VMs) as you need. That makes managing your data center easier. You can deploy a server in seconds, or even automatically when an application needs to scale out. It also lets you charge the VMs you create to their users on a pay-per-use basis, which is useful for allocating costs within a business or reselling web hosting.

Step 2: Know the software

Microsoft have converged their server software into a range of integrated technologies (Windows Server, System Center, Hyper-V…) collectively known as the Microsoft Cloud OS. It’s a server Operating System that facilitates cloud computing, in addition to the more traditional Windows Server OS functionality.

So how do you turn this into an ‘Azure Private Cloud’? By deploying the full Cloud OS, and adding the Windows Azure Pack, you can create a private cloud with the Azure interface – your Azure Private Cloud.

Because the Windows Azure Pack gives you the same interface as the Microsoft Azure public cloud, you can offer your users (for example the application/website/IT owners in your company, or your own web hosting customers) the same service features as Microsoft Azure does, but at fixed overhead consisting of the license fees and data center costs. What’s more, you can monitor and allocate resource to the users, and charge back the service at according to your own pricing policies, just like running your own cloud.

In Microsoft’s words:

“The Windows Azure Pack delivers Microsoft Azure technologies for you to run inside your datacenter enabling, rich, self-service, multi-tenant services and experiences that are consistent with Microsoft’s public cloud offering”.

Step 3: Find your private data center

Your cloud is private because it’s hosted on your own servers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the servers are hosted in your own premises. In fact, given the overheads associated with data center operations and the redundancy you need in order to achieve a 100% power and network uptime SLA, it almost certainly means finding a third party hosting provider who offers an Azure Private Cloud option.

In fact, you’ll need to find a hosting provider that meets all your data center / hosting criteria (location, quality, experience, reputation and service) and that also has the Microsoft partnership, expertise and licensing needed to help you deploy, manage and scale your “Azure Private Cloud”.

Given that there are hundreds of hosting and data center providers out there, making the right choice may seem like a daunting task. But whittling down a shortlist of potential providers gets a lot easier when you know where to look. We recommend iWeb. 😉

Why not Microsoft Azure public cloud?

The truth is that benefit (or not) of a private version of Microsoft Azure depends on your situation. If you’re reading this, you may already know why you prefer private to public cloud. But here are a few common reasons why people go private while keeping the amazing Azure features and interface that Microsoft have developed.

Scale economies: If your organization is of a sufficient size, you may find the cost of equivalent resources is lower when you have your own private version of the Azure public cloud. With the private option you’ll pay for your data center (server hosting) and licensing at a flat rate and that’s it. With public you’ll pay for every GB of RAM, Storage and Traffic you use.

Central control: Don’t fancy giving every application/website/IT owner in your organization the power to spend company dollars in the cloud? You can centralize the cost and control of your global hosting spend with an Azure Private Cloud, and then charge it back to people who use it (the ability to charge at your own rate is part of the functionality of the Cloud OS).

Data privacy and jurisdiction: Perhaps the most self-evident benefit of private cloud is that all your data is held privately on your own servers. For some industries, there’s a regulatory requirement to house data privately. It may help you plan disaster recovery to manage your data yourself, knowing where it is and that it’s backed up. And you may be obliged, or prefer, to house your data in a country or jurisdiction that is not offered by a particular public cloud.

By having complete control over your choice of data center / hosting provider, you know exactly where your servers are, under which country’s data laws they are governed, what your SLA is and what your expenditure will be at the end of each month.