Do Not Disturb! Going The Private Cloud Route With eFrontPro

Keep It Private With eFrontPro's Private Cloud Solutions

Every decade or so, the IT industry will pick an emerging technology (or two) and market it to high heaven as the panacea to all of your computing problems. This past decade it has been all about Cloud computing. And while the Cloud is indeed a powerful paradigm, it’s not necessarily for everyone -- at least in its most touted form. In this article, we’ll examine some possible issues with public Cloud solutions for eLearning and see how eFrontPro’s Private Cloud and Managed Cloud options solve them.

Public Vs. Private Cloud

The first thing you should now about the so-called "public Cloud" is that it’s still very much private. It’s neither you, nor the public at large that owns the servers, runs the operations or calls the shots: It’s the Cloud operator.

For the Amazon Cloud, that would be Amazon. For the Microsoft Cloud, that would be Microsoft. For specialized, SaaS Cloud offerings, it’s their respective companies. That’s the first problem with the public Cloud: You don’t have much control over it, and you are often locked to a specific vendor.

A "public Cloud" is only public in the sense that it’s open to the general public (businesses and/or individual users) to register for and share its resources.

And that’s the second problem with the public Cloud: You pay for those shared resources quite a lot more than if you’d operated the servers, or at least had them all to yourself.

Of course there are benefits, too: Ease of mind, for one, as the smooth operation of a Cloud or SaaS offering is ensured by the Cloud operator. For the same reason, it’s also very fast to begin with: no installation, server provisioning, etc., required.

At the end of the day, it’s a tradeoff between having a turn-key solution that comes at a premium compared to running on the bare metal and offers limited control and customization, and a custom deployment that’s more flexible at the cost of increased maintenance needs.

That said, those are not your only two options, at least when it comes to corporate talent development and training software. eFrontPro, for one, offers two alternative deployment modes that balance between the benefits of SaaS in a public Cloud and total control of your software on your own datacenter.

Private Cloud

Private Cloud deployments still leverage Cloud computing’s paradigm, but without locking you to a single Cloud vendor and having you share a software service with other customers.

Instead, you can (a) build your own cloud in your datacenter(s) or (b) take advantage of one or more IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) providers, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Joyent to build your own Private Cloud using their resources.

With the first method, you get total control of your eLearning portal (or any other service you choose to run on your private cloud), down to the hardware selection, network topology, etc. This can be the best option if you already have a dedicated IT department, have increased integration needs with legacy services in your enterprise datacenter, or want total privacy assurances (as can be the case in financial organizations or government agencies).

The obvious downside is that you need to devote time and effort to setup and maintain the hardware, on top of managing your Cloud setup. You are also limited to the immediate resources that you have deployed: If your server power is not enough, you might not be able to handle some seasonal peaks (or other sudden cases of increased demand) without buying and deploying new hardware.

With the second method, you get a lot of the flexibility of the public Cloud offerings, as you can take advantage of a set of Cloud services that play well together (e.g. Amazon’s EC2, S3 and Dynamo DB) and can be scaled on demand. In this model, the selection, installation and maintenance of the hardware is left to the Cloud provider, and your IT team gets to play at the, much higher, OS and service level.

Compared to the public Cloud, this model gives you more control, more bang for your buck, and let’s you pick the best prices, stacks, and SLAs, and even pick and match between different Cloud and IaaS providers.

eFrontPro comes with a license and installation model that is compatible with both the first model (let’s call it the "fully private Cloud") and the second model (the IaaS-based enterprise Cloud). Plus, no matter which model you choose, eFrontPro gives you full control over your eFrontPro installation (for customization, branding, integration and other purposes).

Managed (Private) Cloud

For those that want the ultimate in flexibility, with the minimum effort, for their Talent Development portal, eFrontPro also offers another deployment option: The Managed Cloud.

Under this model, you get your own, highly secure and private Cloud-based Talent Development portal that runs on isolated virtual CPUs, but lets the eFrontPro experts handle its installation, management, and maintenance.

This way, you get the same turn-key experience that you’d get with a public Cloud service, but with dedicated CPU resources, full access to the underlying installation (to further integrate or customize your solution), and full privacy and control over your Talent Development portal.

A "managed Cloud" eFrontPro account includes updates, monitoring, backups and support services from the very team that built the software in the first place. If you have an IT department in your enterprise or organization, this leaves your IT department free to concentrate on your actual business needs.

What’s best, you can register as many users as you want at a flat fee, which means you can grow your Talent Development and Training efforts on demand, without needing to worry about server provisioning, or to worry about hidden costs and maintenance.

Conclusion

In this post, we examined three alternative models to public Cloud computing with which eFrontPro is compatible. From a fully private, on-premises installation to the eFrontPro managed private Cloud, each model comes with different set of benefits and tradeoffs, but all are excellent options for a modern enterprise talent development program.

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