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Private, Hybrid Cloud Interest Spurred by Security and Control

IT is investigating private and hybrid clouds to address concerns around security, control and application suitability, according to two recent surveys.

As the cloud model matures, organizations are beginning to pay more attention to private and hybrid cloud options, according to recent surveys. Security, control and application requirements are the driving forces behind this interest.

Cloud provider Rackspace surveyed 400 organizations in the United States and the U.K. Of those 400, 294 were hybrid cloud users. According to Rackspace, 52% of respondents who've moved applications or workloads from public cloud services to private or hybrid clouds said they were motivated by improved security. Another 42% said hybrid and private environments offer better control, and 37% cited superior performance and reliability.

Rackspace CTO John Engates said during a phone interview that many cloud vendors--Rackspace included--long had been convinced that all roads led to the public cloud. Not any more.

"The public cloud is still something that Rackspace is very high on, but we don't think it's the end-all and be-all," says Engates. "Not every company out there is going to build a new architecture designed for the public cloud."

InformationWeek's 2013 State of Cloud Computing survey of 446 IT professionals hints at a rise in private cloud adoption, even as it registers a dip in the use of some flavors of the public cloud.

For instance, the percentage of companies using the public cloud dropped from the previous year for SaaS (from 57% to 49%) and PaaS (from 42% to 36%).

Meanwhile, overall use of the cloud rose from 33% to 40%, including boosts for use of virtualization and infrastructure as a service. Report author Joe Masters Emison wrote, "This suggests that enterprises are more seriously building on cloud and cloudlike infrastructure (IaaS and private or hybrid clouds)."

[OpenStack is becoming a popular platform for private clouds. Part of that popularity is reflected in an ecosystem of third-party tools. Find out more in "New Technologies Target OpenStack Private Clouds."]

Security tops the list of concerns that IT has with cloud services, according to the InformationWeek survey; 51% of respondents cited security defects as their greatest concern, a figure that remains unchanged from 2012.

Emison also suggested the increase in virtualization and IaaS is driven in part by issues of control. Unlike SaaS, in which IT is essentially bypassed by the business unit and the application provider, private cloud and IaaS "are less disruptive to the control structure," wrote Emison.

Outside of security and control, application needs are spurring interest in private and hybrid clouds. According to the Rackspace survey, 35% of respondents that use a hybrid cloud said "The applications or functions are too complex to run on the public cloud." In other words, complex or legacy applications may not be a good fit for the public cloud environment.

Engates notes that this isn't just an issue for established companies. He says younger companies--especially ones that are focused on compute-intensive services such as online gaming and big data--are finding that public cloud services just aren't suited to run their core services.

And that, Engates says, might hint at the biggest change in Rackspace's view on hybrid clouds.

"We had looked at hybrid as a bridge to the past," he says. "Now we're seeing it as a bridge to the future. Young companies that don't have legacy applications are turning to private clouds to do things they couldn't do in the public cloud. That's been a real eye-opener for us. It's not just big companies that have a bunch of old stuff; it's small companies that have a bunch of new stuff."

Do you have a private or hybrid cloud in production, or are you considering building out such an architecture? If so, why? You can share your input in the comments section.

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