With the shapes of public and hybrid cloud evolving, some might wonder whether anyone really needs private cloud anymore – especially if the customers in question don't have difficult-to-migrate applications to manage.
US hybrid cloud sales have been tipped to almost triple to $145 billion by 2026 versus 2020, according to a recent Mordor Intelligence forecast. With public cloud growing too, fully private infrastructures look set to shrink.
Robert Rutherford, chief executive officer at managed services provider QuoStar, confirms that most of its customers either have or will move over time to public or hybrid infrastructures. Private cloud network bottlenecks and disk restrictions make management and servicing potentially more costly, if not more complex.
"We used to do a lot more testing when we had more in private cloud. Automated load testing, obviously, was part of that, and you would need to do it and keep doing it," Rutherford explains.
"A lot of people still provide private cloud but typically they're sweating legacy assets which they perhaps spent on heavily years ago – and those margins won't be around much longer."
Private cloud often suits fairly static and predictable workloads, yet companies today typically seek dynamic scalability, he says. Also, solutions are appearing that will over time solve critical questions about the handling of sensitive data – removing more of the remaining barriers to public cloud.
If applications can be migrated and there aren't specific security, privacy or location related data restrictions, public or some variety of hybrid infrastructure typically makes more sense as a "long term fit", Rutherford says – although customers still demand private cloud, so the channel must respond.
Hiren Parekh, Northern Europe vice president at cloud provider OVHcloud, points out that cloud adoption is increasing generally overall. Certainly, customers are typically looking for more agility, but specific choices on cloud can be more about where they are on their digital transformation journey.
"I wouldn't say that private cloud is dropping off, as such. Overall, private cloud adoption is equally increasing," Parekh confirms.
It's all about customer workloads
Even if many might superficially favour public cloud, not all workloads can be refactored or repurposed to fit. Applications that cannot be migrated easily aren't ready for public cloud, Parekh adds.
"Private cloud does give you a bit more ability to migrate those native workloads in a native format. Probably less conformity is needed if you're using VMware on premises and VMware as a cloud solution. In the end your workloads are more transferable," he says.
On the other hand, hybrid cloud can make it easier to choose a preferred flavour of cloud solution for specific workloads, especially when open standards and open software can be adopted to avoid the need to conform to a specific provider or way of working.
"The channel as a trusted advisor then helps those organisations understand the right solution for them in a completely complex landscape with the different fragmentation of applications that everyone has these days," Parekh says.
The differentiation comes when public cloud gives customers new functionality and fast scaleability – but that also typically comes at a cost. On the other hand, private cloud can deliver slightly more stability in some ways, according to Parekh.
If customers need truly automated additional resources or automatic scaling, the best solution may involve a certain amount of public cloud. However, when the customer requires an additional layer of security, strict requirements around specific certifications, data sovereignty, or compliance with the likes of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), such as fintech firms, a hosted private cloud might be a better choice.