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Cloud Hosting

Virtual Private Cloud vs. Private Cloud: What's the Difference?

March 28, 2019

virtual private cloud vs. private cloudIn the 20 years since VMware’s inception and the introduction of virtualization, cloud in all its iterations has become the foundation of enterprise IT. In this blink of an eye, cloud hosting was born and has evolved, giving enterprises lots of flavors and options. In parallel, enterprise use cases have become more nuanced and advanced. It seemed a good time, therefore, to look once more at the choices of virtual private cloud vs. private cloud for SAP landscapes.

What’s What: public, private and virtual private cloud

Let’s do a quick recap on the definitions of public, private and virtual private clouds. Public cloud is a public, hyperscale, multi-tenant platform where computing services can be reserved or rented on demand. These resources are available globally over the internet and allow customers to provision and scale services instantly without the time and CAPEX associated with purchasing dedicated infrastructure. The major providers are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. All of these service providers offer infrastructure that is certified to run SAP.

A private cloud, in contrast, is a single tenant cloud environment that runs on dedicated infrastructure. This may reside on-premises, in a dedicated off-site data center or with a managed private cloud provider. Where public cloud is elastic and easily scalable, private cloud is constrained by fixed infrastructure. The advantage of the private cloud is control and exclusivity. It’s yours. There are no neighbors to share hosted resources with.

A Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) is an option that bridges the two, offering the best of both cloud models. VPC’s function like a private cloud that run on public or shared infrastructure. How does this work? The VPC isolates one user’s resources from another’s using an individualized, private IP subnet, and are connected by virtualized networks including Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs) or encrypted channels. Unlike public clouds that serve dynamic environments and all workloads, SAP VPC’s host similar and relatively static workloads. Because this is SAP, most customers access their environment through virtual private networks (VPN). This can reduce risk and exposure from neighbors that typically access their solutions over the public internet.

Choosing a cloud hosting option for SAP

When considering virtual private cloud vs. private cloud or public cloud, what’s the best hosting option for your SAP landscape? There is no silver bullet as one size does fits all. Like everything else, it’s all about tradeoffs and your unique needs. Many times, when selecting an SAP cloud deployment model, the decision is generally tied to a larger cloud strategy.

As previously mentioned, virtual private clouds bridge the gap between public and private cloud. VPC’s and public cloud are both multi-tenant platforms, but VPC’s are more like cul-de-sac multi-tenant environments than high-rise multi-tenant hotels. Allow me to explain. VPC’s serve similar SAP workloads that do not typically move or scale like other workloads. This is why it’s important to think long term.

Choosing a managed private cloud can offer you a more comprehensive service level, better (more certain) data isolation and performance as well as security. The limitations with managed private cloud are similar to on self-managed on-prem options with the same limits on the ability to scale quickly. Infrastructure resources are limited to the installed resources. This may not be an issue given that ERP systems tend to be more static, predictable, and slower to grow.

With a VPC, you can choose where your data is located. You can support hybrid cloud, which is almost a guaranteed requirement for most SAP companies working through their cloud migration. However, VPCs are sometimes over-provisioned to then isolate the resource pool of each user for better resource allocation. This may end up costing you more over the life of your contract. Because of this, transparency from your cloud provider is critical so you ensure you’re only paying for what you need.

The public cloud’s consumption based, on-demand hourly, daily and monthly models attract both short-term and long-term tenants. In public cloud, solutions are architected in availability groups and availability zones. This is to address expected and anticipated outages and maintenance windows. In contrast, the redundancy and resiliency in VPC is baked into the infrastructure design. In other words. we expect and therefore architect for failures in public cloud whereas when you consider virtual private cloud vs. private cloud, we architect the infrastructure to minimize failures. This is particularly important for sensitive workloads like SAP where keeping critical functions running and available is paramount.

Working With A Partner To Decipher The Platform Options

An SAP partner can help you sort out the decision of virtual private cloud vs. private cloud or public cloud for your company. Against a backdrop of increasing SAP public cloud adoption, deploying managed private cloud for SAP still continues to be a popular (and sometimes preferred) option for many. Managed private cloud can be delivered to exact specs with the same control, look and feel found in on-prem solutions.  The certainty of knowing the details of the underlying infrastructure including the specs and exact location of the stack are appealing. This option delivers a comfortable and familiar next step, making the journey to cloud more palatable for many IT executives.

A trusted SAP partner can help you navigate your platform options. Enterprise SAP landscapes trend toward the complex and idiosyncratic, and what works for one company won’t necessarily work for another.

Symmetry has built our own proprietary SAP virtual private cloud and are platform agnostic so can deploy and run SAP in any cloud environment. Our deployment models focus on understanding and aligning with customer needs and preferences. We’ll work together to devise and implement an effective strategy and supporting project plan for your migration from on-premises to private cloud, virtual private cloud or public cloud.