Public Cloud vs Private Cloud: Six Key Insights

Last week, I joined the Platform9 team at the Amazon re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. It was exciting to be a part of the premier industry conference for cloud infrastructure and to learn from great conversations I had with others at the show.

It became clear to me that for those attending AWS re:Invent, it’s not just about public clouds, but also about the broader phenomenon of cloud computing and accelerating business value with agile infrastructure. Certainly, many organizations (especially startups / small enterprises) primarily use the public cloud. But I met many others that are very interested in realizing an AWS-like experience with their existing “private” infrastructure.

I also learned a lot from the survey we conducted at the show. (Thanks by the way if you were one of the 1000+ respondents!) We asked customers about their cloud computing infrastructure today, their top concerns, and how they expect this to evolve over the next 12 months.

Here are six key insights. Note the results shown below reflect responses for enterprise customers (those indicating company size >1000 employees):

1. Enterprise customers expect both public AND private cloud usage to increase.

You might expect  that the audience at AWS re:Invent would have been completely down on private clouds. Not so. While many enterprises expect to grow public cloud usage, the majority also expect private clouds to grow or stay the same size.

 2. Security and costs were top concerns about working with the public cloud.

Enterprise customers rated security and escalating costs as their top concerns with the public cloud. Interestingly, this was the first re:Invent conference not to feature a significant price cut at the keynote, perhaps signaling a future trend?

3. Operating costs and complexity were top concerns about working with the private cloud.

The same enterprise customer segment rated complexity and associated operating costs as their top concern with private clouds. The good news is that this is a known problem and Platform9 was founded with a focus on solving it!

4. OpenStack and containers show the most interest; VMware still has the largest installed base.

Enterprise customers considering an automated, self-service infrastructure are doing so with OpenStack and/or containers. Nearly 80% are using or evaluating OpenStack, and 85% using or evaluating containers. (OpenStack and containers are not mutually exclusive).

5. Orgs that currently use public clouds but expect to reduce usage are transitioning to private clouds.

It isn’t a one-way street to the public cloud: of customers who are decreasing public cloud usage, 75% plan to do so by increasing private cloud usage. This segment indicates more concern about “lock-in” than the broader survey population.

6. On the other hand, a larger segment of customers expect to decrease private cloud usage, with 95% of that usage being substituted by increasing public cloud usage.

What appears to be driving this move away from private cloud is the cost of operation, along with the required skill set. This just begs the question: What if private clouds were 10x easier to run and required no specialized skills or know-how?

I hope you found these nuggets interesting and perhaps helpful as you consider your own cloud computing strategy and private cloud vs public cloud costs. If your plans include private clouds, let us know. Our SaaS platform makes OpenStack-based private clouds easy, and we’d love to see how we can help.

Sirish Raghuram

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