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November 7, 2016updated 28 Mar 2017 5:24pm

Public versus private cloud, is the difference changing?

Cloud computing, whether public or private, looks set to grow at an ever faster rate over the next twelve months.

By John Oates


Spending on cloud projects will continue to outpace spending on traditional, in-house IT.

International Data Corporation puts the figures at 16.2 per cent growth in spending on cloud environments versus growth of just 1.8 per cent in traditional technology projects.

IDC expects broadly similar spending increases for each of the next four years until 2020

Part of the reason for this acceleration is enterprises realising how cloud deployments can help them speed up transformation of their business and services. But the faster pace is also due to businesses already having experience with smaller scale cloud deployments.

Having gained experience with small projects stage two is large companies moving core applications onto cloud environments.

So although there might be a smaller number of publicly announced deals in the next year, those deals will likely be bigger.

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Different analyst houses have slightly different figures for the detail of this growth but all agree on two things.

Firstly cloud will take an ever larger share of enterprise computing.

And secondly that public cloud will grow faster than private cloud.

Private cloud deployments rely on bespoke solutions, either of hardware or software, or both. They are hosted within your company data centre or on the premises of your service provider. They provide benefits in terms of security and regulatory compliance for businesses which need it, as well as greater control.

Public clouds might depend on shared infrastructure, or certainly on hardware owned and managed by your service provider. They are sometimes seen as lacking in security for this reason, but that perception is changing.

The main benefits they bring are cost savings, ease of quickly scaling up, or down, to deal with changing demands and access to high performance computing for companies which could not otherwise afford it.

But as the market matures these differences are disappearing.

Public cloud providers increasingly offer the enterprise applications which big business needs. They also increasingly offer the flexibility and bespoke services and tailored solutions that were once only available on private clouds or on your own systems.

Although there is still a difference between public and private cloud infrastructure it seems like that dividing line is becoming blurred.

While views of the security of public versus private clouds are changing some businesses will always want to keep at least some applications on their own hardware in a room and a building which they control.

This might be to satisfy regulators, to keep the board happy or because the application is too valuable and central to your business to risk anyone else getting even a peek at how it works.

But the reality for most companies is that both types of cloud deployment have their own advantages and disadvantages. Which is chosen will depend on the specific application and what the business demands from it.

That is why the majority of firms will continue to run some sort of hybrid infrastructure however quickly the public cloud develops. Some services are better run by specialist providers but core business applications which are undergoing regular if not constant upgrading and tweaking are still better run at least partly in-house.

Which is why most analysts agree on another big growth area for the year ahead.

Even medium-sized companies are having to deal with multiple cloud providers, dealing with this complexity will be another area of growth in 2017.

Cloud management systems which can help automate deployment and configuration as well as monitor performance through a simple dashboard or portal will be an ever more vital tool for keeping on top of the growing number of cloud providers which the average CIO has to deal with.

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