Also known as an internal cloud or corporate cloud, a private cloud is defined as a deployment model for cloud services where the cloud environment and infrastructure are
dedicated to providing services for a single organization. A private cloud acts as a pool of physical and virtual resources, including data storage and computing power, that users from the organizations can draw from as needed.
Organizations that wish to deploy a private cloud environment can either build the necessary infrastructure and develop the capabilities in-house, or they may outsource the development and management of the cloud environment to a third-party vendor. Regardless of the specifics, the defining feature of a private cloud environment is only accessed and used by a single organization.
Before cloud computing emerged as a mainstream way of delivering applications and technological services, enterprise organizations that needed more data storage or computing power had no alternative besides investing in their own on-premise IT infrastructure. Companies were forced to bear the up-front costs of leasing a data center, purchasing servers, and storage drives and hiring administrators to deploy and manage applications, networking, and other functions.
On the surface, private cloud deployments seem to closely resemble the on-premise IT infrastructure deployments that existed before cloud computing - so what's the difference? Why do organizations invest in private cloud infrastructure at all?
The key difference between private cloud and on-premise IT is that cloud-based services are delivered, accessed and used over the internet. With cloud computing, an organization can use virtualization to optimize resource management and utilization in a way that is both secure and easier to scale.
With an on-premise IT deployment, applications would have to be accessed via a corporate Intranet or a local area network (LAN). Private cloud computing architectures allow applications and other services to be accessed via the internet. They also incorporate resource pooling that helps the organization get the most value from its available data storage capacity and computing assets.
Cloud computing is often associated with public cloud deployments and major cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. Public cloud computing services are characterized by a large pool of available storage and computing power that can be delivered to customers on a pay-per-use basis. Instead of investing in their own IT infrastructure, organizations pay a fee to use a cloud service provider's IT infrastructure to perform computing and data storage tasks.
With private cloud deployments, organizations are required to invest in their own hardware and IT infrastructure. Organizations with private clouds lose out on some benefits of public cloud (lower up-front IT costs and reduced responsibility for security and administrative tasks) while retaining some others (better use of resources with virtualization and easier to scale).
Another key benefit associated with private cloud deployments is added security and privacy. Some organizations cannot risk uploading sensitive data into public cloud servers and depending on a third-party service provider to secure that data, especially when dynamic resource allocation means that sensitive data will be hosted on servers that other organizations will have access to. Private cloud deployments are seen as a way of leveraging virtualization and resource pooling without exposing data to external entities.
The need for enhanced data security and regulatory compliance is a driving force behind the adoption of private cloud infrastructure, but it would be a mistake to think that maintaining data on a private network is the ultimate solution to data security. Companies that use private cloud should carefully craft a security strategy to ensure that private cloud environments meet organizational objectives for risk tolerance. Here are five components to an effective security plan for your private cloud:
Don't Overlook Physical Security
Anyone that can access your data center could potentially gain unauthorized access to data. Whether your private cloud is hosted in an on-site data center or by a third-party service provider, ensure that the appropriate measures are taken to guarantee the physical security of the facility. Consider measures such as:
- CCTV camera monitoring of the data center
- Redundant access to power, cooling, and networks
- Disaster recovery planning
- Security policy for visitors, guards, cleaning staff and service engineers
Create a Data Security Plan
Not all data on the network must be protected by the same level of security. Data should be classified in terms of which business department owns the data, who will be responsible for granting or authorizing user access to the data, and its security classification. Data can be classified as public, private or confidential. Public data requires the fewest security protections, as it may be generally available to the public elsewhere. Private data is proprietary - you would rather not see it released. Confidential data is sensitive - it must not be shared.
Maintain Visibility of Cloud Environments
Organizations that deploy private clouds need full visibility into events that are happening in the cloud computing environment. This is normally accomplished with the use of Security Information Management (SIM) tools that collect and aggregate event logs and Security Event Monitoring (SEM) tools that parse those logs, attempting to detect events that may correlate to a security risk. There are also tools that incorporate both of these technologies, known as Security Information and Event Monitoring (SIEM) solutions.
Configure Security Alerts for Your Private Cloud
Visibility in the cloud is important, but it can only be used to prevent cyber attacks if it is supported by a detailed system of security alerts. When your SIEM tool discovers a potential threat, it should generate an alert that can be investigated by your security team.
Implement an Incident Response Strategy
Once your security analysts are alerted to a security incident, there should be a well-defined response strategy for quarantining the affected servers or applications while the threat can be evaluated and removed. An incident response strategy should include accurately diagnosing the incident, containing and minimizing damage, determining the root cause or vulnerability, introducing improvements or patches to prevent the incident from recurring, documentation, and finally restoring the affected services.
Sumo Logic's cloud analytics platform can act as your first SIEM tool or complement your existing SIEM tool with industry-leading features like log aggregation, threat detection, and predictive analytics. Sumo Logic provides the tools and features you need to maintain full visibility of your private cloud deployment, quickly detect and respond to threats, and maintain the security posture of your private cloud environment in accordance with your organization's tolerance for risk.
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