What is a Virtual Private Cloud and Why Should I Care?

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What is a Virtual Private Cloud and Why Should I Care?

At its core, a virtual private cloud (VPC) is a logically isolated environment for one tenant on shared infrastructure. There are many types of virtual private clouds available on the market, but they aren’t all the same. A VPC should offer the performance benefits of a private cloud, offer the cost benefits of shared resources, and deliver better data protection than that of a public cloud.

To grasp the usefulness of a VPC, let’s explore the differences between a virtual private cloud and public cloud, and dive deeper into the benefits of choosing a virtual private cloud.

What are The Differences Among Public Cloud, Private Cloud and Virtual Private Cloud?

Public clouds are considered a free-for-all. Within these cloud systems, users claim resources as needed—at multiple price points—and share these physical resources with other users, which can offer cost advantages. Public cloud providers often also have complicated billing models making it nearly impossible to predict what a monthly bill will end up being.  And they can be vague in their privacy and security claims, with limited products available for compliance use cases, complicating the effort to fully secure an environment and know if it will meet compliance rules.

On the other hand, private clouds guarantee separation from other users via physically isolated, dedicated infrastructure. These systems provide excellent security and stability, but carry a higher price tag. They also limit your ability to benefit from utility billing, since you are paying for all the infrastructure regardless of your utilization levels.

What is a Virtual Private Cloud and Why Should I CareSource: Tatvasoft via Google

A “virtual” private cloud (VPC) shares infrastructure and is logically isolated—but has the same ease-of-use as a public cloud. A third-party provider owns and manages the infrastructure on your behalf, and you retain control of your private networks, virtual machines, security settings, and storage.

Since infrastructure resources are provisioned in advance, VPCs ensure demand spikes don’t threaten your business’ network, since you can scale up as your demand increases, similar to a public cloud. However, since a VPC is designed with tenant isolation in mind from the start, initial configurations provide more security and separation, ensuring your environment remains safe, even during your initial configuration and setup.  Features such as hardened operating system images, default “deny all” security settings, compliance certifications and private networking options are features that can further differentiate a VPC from a public cloud.

Due to virtual private clouds’ agility, security and affordability, a VPC can be the sweet spot for those that need security in the cloud but don’t want to invest in a dedicated private cloud.

Cost Management 101

A 2016 report from 451 Research states that two of the most critical factors that influence the cost of a public versus a private cloud deployment are an organization’s ability to manage the infrastructure and use resources wisely. Another 2017 survey by RightScale identified that approximately 30-40% of all cloud spend could have been avoided.

A VPC solution carries a lower price tag than a dedicated private cloud configuration, as it does not require separate physical infrastructure. Although VPC costs are competitive with public clouds, cost-effectiveness depends on how the resources are managed—as noted above. Most providers allow for utility billing on a per hour basis. The ability to predict or cap your monthly spend, is a feature that is less common, but will help ensure you keep your costs in check.

Quick Self-Assessment to See if VPC Is Right for You

Your unique business goals will determine if a virtual private cloud is right for you. Here are a few considerations:

  • Are you concerned with security in the cloud?
  • Do you need to comply with regulatory standards like HIPAA or PCI that might make a public cloud a bad fit?
  • Do you need more agility than a dedicated private cloud offers?
  • Does demand for your application fluctuate, driving a need for cloud bursting?
  • Do you need on-demand utility compute?
  • Would you like to support your continuous development lifecycle with one provider, where your development environment can be as secure as production?

If you answered yes to several of these, it’s worth digging into how a VPC can benefit your operations.

Benefit from OnRamp’s VPC

OnRamp lets you choose between self-service or managed private cloud solutions. We recently launched a HITRUST-certified virtual private cloud built on OpenStack® technology to help IT teams and DevOps control costs, remain agile, and improve their compliance posture.

Based on user feedback, we designed this VPC with features that combat common cloud challenges— capped resource usage to control costs, secure-by-default configurations to protect sensitive data, and highly portable deployments that prevent vendor lock-in.

Additional Resources on This Topic:

Private Cloud and Virtualization
Private Virtual Cloud
The Metrics that Matter for Your Private/Hybrid Cloud

Photo Credit: UKNGroup Flickr via Compfight cc

This article was first published on OnRamp.

With nearly 20 years of experience in hosting, cloud and technology, Toby Owen oversees the product strategy and execution for OnRamp’s portfolio of high security colocation, managed hosting, and private cloud products. Prior to OnRamp, Owen led product and security teams at Cogeco Peer 1, Rackspace, and Wells Fargo.

Connect with Toby Owen on LinkedIn and Twitter (@tobydowen)

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