Salesforce, Amazon and others (kind of) offer private clouds - is it enough?

It's beyond your firewall, but on dedicated infrastructure - is that private cloud?

Today we have two nuggets of news from the cloud world that both aim to alleviate concerns that customers may have with using a multi-tenant public cloud.

SaaS provider and IaaS vendor CloudSigma both today rolled out private cloud-like options for customers. Salesforce announced a partnership with HP to offer Superpod, which is a converged infrastructure stack based on HP hardware that is single-tenant hosted private cloud. CloudSigma, a mid-sized European-based provider, announced a partnership with Zadara Storage to offer the company's storage platform as a "virtual private storage array." 

But are these hosted private clouds really a private cloud? Are these moves - along with similar ones from Amazon Web Services - enough to settle qualms public cloud leery enterprises have about using resources beyond their firewall?  

If you go to the official source of cloud vernacular, which many in the industry agree that the National Institutes of Standards in Technology (NIST) provides, then you will see that private cloud is defined as:

"The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a single organization comprising multiple consumers (e.g., business units). It may be owned, managed, and operated by the organization, a third party, or some combination of them, and it may exist on or off premises."

So, despite what some may believe, private cloud can be hosted by your service provider, according to NIST. Hosted private clouds are still beyond the firewall and off of customer premises, but they run on dedicated infrastructure, meaning customers aren't sharing reousrces in a multi-tenant environment. Is that enough for customers who are concerned about outsourcing? Tell me in the comments, please.

Companies like VMware, Microsoft, Eucalyptus and OpenStack backers, among others, offer more classically-defined private cloud options. These are systems that sit on customers' premises, behind their firewall, but still have qualities like automatic provisioning of virtualized servers, charge-back and auto-scaling. Companies like Oracle even offer customers the opportunity to rent infrastructure that is owned by the provider and sits on customer sites to keep the operating expense model of the cloud.

At the recent Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference, this issue of what private cloud options customers have within the AWS cloud was a question I had going into the show. Sure AWS has virtual private cloud (VPC), but like SuperPod and Cloud Sigma's new offering, that is a hosted, off-premises private cloud.

Is that having a single-tenant, hosted "private cloud" enough to get security-conscious customers to use their clouds? Salesforce, Amazon and others hope so, but the market will tell.

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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