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Virtual Cloud Privacy is Gray

by Tom Bittman  |  January 8, 2009  |  9 Comments

What’s private? What’s public? What’s in-between? We’ve been talking quite a bit lately at Gartner about variations of isolation in a cloud computing architecture. It’s not black and white – it’s gray (aren’t all clouds?).

continuum Private cloud computing requires that the enterprise have dedicated data centers and everything inside.

Public cloud computing assumes that the enterprise is using a service where everything is potentially shared with other users. Everything. Including transactions, data, analysis of the data – everything that took place or was stored as a part of the service (think Google search).

There are plenty of variations between the two – here’s a few:

  • Perhaps you don’t want to share the transactions and analysis. You’re willing to use/share public data, you’re willing to share software – but how you use the software is your business.
  • Or perhaps the data is yours. You will share a multitenant application and everything below it (think
  • Or perhaps the you don’t want to share the application – you want your own dedicated copy, running on your own dedicated operating system, perhaps running in a virtual machine (typical Amazon EC2 deployment).
  • Or, perhaps you want better isolation – you want your software to be the only thing running on your hardware at any one point in time. You may need more, you may need less, but when you acquire it it is all yours until you are done (typical horizontal scaling for web servers in the cloud).
  • Or perhaps you want even more isolation – the hardware is reserved for you and you alone (think Exchange Online Dedicated).

And in all of this, management could be dedicated to just your stuff, or it could be shared. Management could even be running on dedicated hardware – or shared. And there are more variations.

A term starting to float out there in the industry is “virtual private clouds”. Reuven Cohen probably invented the term, but his use is different from some of the uses I’ve heard from vendors. Beware! It will be really important to understand what is truly “private” and what is truly “shared” when vendors start to use that term and many others to discuss what they’ve got. I can already hear the drumroll for more cloud computing terms being used in fifteen different ways – or is that thunder?

Category: cloud  

Tags: amazon  cloud-computing  google  private-cloud  

Thomas J. Bittman
VP Distinguished Analyst
20 years at Gartner
31 years IT industry

Thomas Bittman is a vice president and distinguished analyst with Gartner Research. Mr. Bittman has led the industry in areas such as private cloud computing and virtualization. Mr. Bittman invented the term "real-time infrastructure," which has been adopted by major vendors and many… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Virtual Cloud Privacy is Gray

  1. […] 9, 2009 by Bert Bouwhuis Thomas Bittman van Gartner refereert met enige scepsis naar weer een nieuwe kreet in cloud computing land: Virtual Private Clouds. Alhoewel de term door […]

  2. To my mind (and I suspect to Reuven’s also) a ‘Virtual Private Cloud’ is a set of infrastructure, managed by a cloud provider, and fully dedicated to some user. It’s a dynamic hosting solution where infrastructure is assigned and then released on demand. How truly ‘private’ will depend upon how effectively privacy is enforced by the cloud provider i.e. how well the infrastructure is sandboxed off from the rest of the infrastucture under management.

    However, as you point out, Thomas, there are many different forms of privacy with the ‘Virtual Private Cloud’ and the *totally* public cloud at the extremes of that spectrum. User’s requirements concerning privacy (and other many other ‘qualities’) may be in fact be extremely complex (and constantly changing). At Arjuna we think that the key to creating an effective market for the cloud is the ability to capture complex requirements, and the support for sevice agreements that represent contracts between consumers and providers and which deliver a full audit of performance against those requirements. Without the ability for consumers to define what they require, and for arbitration against what is actually available, the cloud will be constrained to support for the particular niche types of services and applications explicitly supported by vendors.

    The ability to express their requirements will give cloud consumers a voice.

  3. […] of Gartner has recently blogged on how potentially complex some of the requirements might be – ). These agreements need to be very dynamic in nature and to be sufficiently flexible so that they […]

  4. […] Bittman brought up the important matter of privacy in his post, “Virtual Cloud Privacy is Gray.” Bittman points out that variations of isolation in a cloud computing architecture. When it […]

  5. […] service, or a public cloud service? It’s not quite so binary. I first explored this in my post Virtual Cloud Privacy is Gray a few months ago. There are two relative dimensions that determine how “private” or how […]

  6. diät pillen says:

    Virtual Cloud Computing represents the next wave of virtualization and offers significant market opportunities by providing a new, simpler, and much more pervasive platform for on-demand, desktop and application service delivery.

  7. […] virtualisaton of servers within a cloud. Thomas Bittman talks about security of the virtual cloud here but otherwise it appears to be not that popular a term. Other terms that look connected are virtual […]

  8. SmartCloud says:

    […] Virtual Cloud Privacy is Gray […]

  9. […] private cloud servers, public cloud servers are shared between enterprises, according to Thomas Bittman. Companies and IT professionals share data analysis, services and applications with other […]

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