How odd that even though we are this deep into the cloud transition, people are still debating the merits of public vs. private vs. hybrid.
If the latest research is to be believed, however, most enterprises have already moved beyond this debate and are actively seeking a variety of cloud-based solutions that will combine the best of the cloud as well as legacy virtual and even physical infrastructure.
Take, for example, CTERA Networks’ recent Cloud Storage Report, which holds that 63 percent of enterprises prefer internal or hosted virtual private cloud solutions over SaaS offerings like Dropbox for their storage and collaboration needs. This is actually a no-brainer – in fact, I’m surprised the number is that low – considering the advantage of keeping critical data safely tucked behind the firewall rather than on a public service. Public services will have their role to play going forward, but they are not likely to house mission-critical data and applications, at least not for long.
This is backed up by research from IDC that anticipates a $24 billion market for hosted private clouds as early as 2016. The appeal here is two-fold. For one, hosted infrastructure allows the enterprise to deploy secure cloud services, including storage, quickly and easily, partly as a means to streamline data operations and partly to stem the tide of rogue cloud operations created and maintained by individual business units. Secondly, once internal private clouds are established, hosted infrastructure can still be used to handle spikes in traffic or other unexpected events.
And this jives with a third piece of research: a study by Cloud Connect and Everest Group that puts the level of adoption of hybrid clouds at 60 percent. Most telling, however, is the finding that the majority of IT leaders do not view the cloud as merely a technology play designed to lower costs. Rather, it is seen as a strategic business initiative that will ultimately bolster innovation and lead to new levels of productivity and, perhaps, entirely new markets and opportunities.
The idea that the cloud is about solutions, not technology, is not new, but lately more voices are urging the enterprise to take a hard look at what they truly hope to accomplish in the cloud. Accellion’s Jes Breslaw, for one, points out that the stakes are too high to get caught up in the debate over which architecture will “dominate” the industry. Part of this will require the rejection of the notion that the cloud can be anything and everything the enterprise desires. The truth is that there are many cloud models to choose from, and ultimately there will be as much diversity as exists in today’s physical infrastructure. The smart approach, then, is to build the cloud to suit your business model, not the other way around.
But won’t this kind of customization start to erode the cloud’s ROI? Perhaps, but it is a small price to pay for an architecture that truly works. And despite the pressure to make the conversion before competitors do, the fact is that others are wrestling with these same issues as well, so there is more time to pause and assess your requirements and long-term strategy before committing to one solution or the other.
When all is said and done, the enterprise that is a little late in deploying the cloud will be better off than the one that gets it wrong.