The usual way to look at public versus private cloud infrastructure is to look at the type of businesses associated with each. Start-up companies which need to grow fast and have no legacy infrastructure were seen as the classic public cloud customers. They use Office 365 or Google products for their desktop software and a variety of public cloud providers for other business services like storage, data analysis and customer relationship management.
While established companies with regulations to follow and legacy hardware to utilise were seen as more likely to follow the private cloud route.
But several speakers at HP Enterprise’s Discover event took a more sophisticated view of how business use of cloud infrastructure breaks down in reality
Firstly the reality for most big firms is a complex mix of different cloud providers. This can be a result of buying decisions from individual departments rather than a strategic move by the IT department. It is this need which is addressed by HPE’s Helion Managed Cloud Broker service which gives control and visibility over an entire infrastructure whether it is private or public. It also brings control, and with it hopefully some strategic oversight, back to the IT department.
Ron Brown HPE’s chief technologist for business services for UK and Ireland, sees a more fluid movement of companies use of both public and private clouds.
He said many start-ups can be purely based on public services, but over time this is likely to change.
He used the example of taxi service Uber. It launched using Google Maps which was both a strength and a weakness – it allowed a quick launch but it left them open to competition – any rival service could also use Google Maps.
So Uber began buying mapping companies. By creating these core systems it can create a competitive difference to potential rivals and create a barrier to entry against newcomers to the market.
At the same time more traditional companies are using public cloud to give them the ability to accelerate their business which might be missing from legacy systems.
Brown expects this hybrid environment to remain the norm for the next five years at least.
This is backed up by research from 451 Research. They recently surveyed over a thousand business decision makers in nine countries.
Respondents expected 72 per cent of their upcoming application deployments will be made to the cloud. Of these roughly a third will be delivered by an on-premises cloud infrastructure while the remaining two thirds will got to third party cloud provider.
Although researchers stressed the uniqueness of each business case they expect this broad split to remain true for the next few years.
The research did highlight some differences by market sector – more highly regulated insurance companies for instance have only 19 per cent of apps in public clouds, versus 33 per cent for less regulated telecoms providers.
Within two years 451 Research believes the perceived differences between public and private clouds will all but disappear.
It also expects cloud brokers to play a bigger role in developing the market and bringing public and private together.