A Shift from Public to Private Clouds?

At Dell Technologies World, Jeff Clarke made the point that 40 percent of workloads in the cloud today will migrate back to on-premises, private clouds in the future. On a related note, Pat Gelsinger made an interesting point in the Tuesday keynote that hybrid is not the future, but is the present and for three simple reasons:

  1. The law of physics: if you need 50-millisecond latency, you can’t afford a public cloud experience that provides 250-millisecond performance.
  2. The law of economics: hybrid cloud will often be cheaper than public cloud.
  3. The law of the land: compliance regulations will dictate that at least some data and infrastructure must remain on-premises.

They make a good point. Lots of companies went to the public cloud because it was easier, not because it was cheaper. For example, moving workloads to the public cloud is easier than evaluating, funding, deploying, configuring and maintaining on-premises infrastructure to support these workloads on-premises. That’s especially true in organizations that have a difficult time finding and/or affording the IT, security and other staff members who need to be involved in on-premises deployments.

In the short run, the public cloud is much cheaper than on-premises solutions and it can be cheaper in many cases over the long run, as well. Plus, if you need tremendous flexibility and need to spin up and take down capacity quickly, the public cloud is a great option. But here are some things to consider when using the public cloud:

  • While in the short run the public cloud is cheaper, it might not be in the long run. Good cost modeling is essential as part of the decision-making process.
  • If you’re using public cloud applications (e.g., Office 365) you can’t avoid upgrades. In the days when Exchange Server was the norm for business-grade email, many organizations skipped an upgrade because of the difficulty and cost associated with doing so. That doesn’t happen with public cloud applications.
  • Many public clouds offer great performance, but the laws of physics still apply. Connecting to a cloud 500 feet away from your office will (almost) always be faster than one 500 miles away.
  • Most leading public cloud providers do a good job at protecting data. And many of the biggest data breaches over the past several years have been from on-premises infrastructure. However, there is still something to be said for having your critical data assets, backups, etc. held on your own premises.
  • Bandwidth considerations are important today and will be more so tomorrow, and so should always factor into the decision about where data and solutions will reside.

None of this means that the public cloud should go or is going away. It plays an increasingly essential role for most organizations and will continue to be important moving forward, not least of the reasons being its tremendous flexibility for a wide range of use cases. But consider everything related to the use of public clouds versus private clouds, not just the simplicity of deployment or the initial cost.