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Jun 26, 2017 | Reading time: 4 Minutes

AWS vs. Private Cloud: How to Make the Right Decision

Laura Vietmeyer, Managing Editor

A few years ago, private cloud became a bit of a punching bag for IT journalists, as industry analysts touted the general superiority of the public cloud and services like AWS. But that narrative is quickly fading.

Why Consider Private Cloud?

Private clouds are not only growing, they’ll continue to be an essential component of cloud strategies for organizations of all sizes for the foreseeable future. In fact, according to a recent Gartner survey, 32 percent of organizations are already using or will be using a hosted private cloud solution by the end of 2017.1 Forrester, meanwhile, predicts the private cloud market to grow 11 percent annually through 2021.2  

However, as with most things in the world of IT, the AWS public cloud vs. Private Cloud debate isn’t always a binary one. It depends first and foremost on the use case. In this post, I’ll give a simple overview of the pros and cons of  private and public cloud options to help you determine which solution makes sense for your unique business needs.

Benefits of AWS Public Cloud

Generally speaking, AWS shines when it comes to substantial scalability and burstable, on-demand resource allocation. Using AWS allows organizations to scale to fit their requirements and only pay for what they’re using. Plus, AWS provisioning is often as simple as a few button clicks, and is unmatched in terms of global reach.

The ease of access and the elastic provisioning is an inherent advantage over traditional, on-premise private cloud models, it’s easy to see why AWS public cloud is an attractive option for so many organizations. An internal private cloud generally requires upfront capital expenditure, dedicated IT staff for management, and usually isn’t as scalable as a private cloud.

But hosted private clouds, which use resource pool-based payment models that make it easy to rightsize compute and storage needs, are making up ground fast with automated on-demand deployments and flexible managed services.   

Benefits of Hosted Private Cloud

There is something to be said for the level of control private clouds offer, as well. In a world where performance in multi-tenancy environments and the smallest of architecture details can make or break things like HIPAA compliance or application service quality, public cloud solutions can often add an additional layer of complexity to meeting business objectives. The security and performance advantages of single-tenant, fully isolated cloud environments are often enough to tip the scale for businesses that want ultimate control of their infrastructure destiny.

Furthermore, as private cloud technologies like VMware and Microsoft Azure Stack mature and adapt to market demands, the benefits of AWS are becoming less and less absolute.

All this leads to the biggest factor: Many use cases simply don’t call for the elasticity and scalability AWS provides, meaning you could end up paying a premium for benefits your team just doesn’t need. In fact, a study conducted by a group of cloud vendors suggested that once organizations are spending upwards of $7,000 a month with AWS, a private cloud is actually more cost effective.3 But trying to pinpoint the cost tipping point isn’t the right approach. It really comes down to workload needs.    

AWS Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud—Why Not Both?  

Simply put: The ultimate advantages of AWS are clearest in environments that have resource demands that are highly variable and dynamic, while the private cloud may make more sense for applications with predictable usage as well as workloads that need to be running without performance degradation 24/7/365.  

In all likelihood, the most favorable solution will be hybrid  —  run some of your applications in AWS and some in a hosted private cloud. But in order to adopt this mindset, your organization must first place the requirements of critical workloads ahead of any legacy or singular preference toward a particular infrastructure solution.

At INAP, we call this application-driven infrastructure management. Applications drive your business. The job of the infrastructure is to simply make sure those apps run with maximum efficiency in all aspects, including performance, cost, security and availability.

It’s an agnostic approach we believe separates partners from vendors. Vendors in this industry sell infrastructure products. Partners put your IT strategy and goals first.

This is where our team at INAP adds value to organizations day-in-day out. With expertise in managed private cloud, managed public clouds like  AWS and Azure, security and compliance, and business continuity solutions, we help customers solve real-world business problems using the technology that best supports their applications  —  all the while removing the support burden so you can focus on business as usual.

Research Notes:
1. Gartner Inc. “Cloud Adoption Trends Favor Public Cloud With a Hybrid Twist
2. Forrester Research. “Private Cloud Adoption Is Alive And Well”
3. Network World. “Is there a point where a private cloud is cheaper than the public cloud?”

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