Pendulum swings back toward private cloud: IDC

Private cloud trumps public infrastructure in Australia due to concerns about security, focus on OpEx

After years of publicity around the virtues of the public cloud, analysts are predicting a huge swing back to private infrastructure.

According to analyst firm IDC, 20 per cent of Australian IT heads are looking to implement cloud services within the next year, while a further 45 per cent will implement these services after 12 months. The continued moves to external infrastructure are seen as a huge boost to the 20 or so per cent of local companies already taking advantage of the cloud.

However, IDC’s cloud technologies and services Asia Pacific research director, Chris Morris, has forecast a shift away from current practices.

“The interesting thing is, these people who are already using cloud now, almost all of them were public cloud users,” he told attendees at IDC’s Cloud Computing Conference 2010. “But when we look at those who are planning to use in the next 6 to 12 months, there are still public cloud users, but we’ve switched to a majority of people who are planning to use a private cloud rather than public.”

Notably, 85 per cent of Australian companies are expected to look toward virtualisation services in a private cloud by 2013. Also:

  • 45 per cent will look to private standardisation,
  • 45 per cent will look to automation,
  • 26 per cent will adopt private service level management, and
  • 19 per cent will look at private self service models.

The swing is expected to continue exponentially, with 95 per cent of companies adopting a virtualised private cloud by 2014.

According to Morris, the same security concerns that have afflicted public cloud services for years are likely to continue - against his own logic - driving demand for private infrastructure.

“The other thing, simply, is we’ve got a lot of money invested already in assets in our organisations. We want to drive up the utilisation levels of those servers and storage devices,” Morris said.

The economic downturn’s affect on companies saw IT departments influenced greater by the chief financial officer, Morris said, and subsequently an inherent move toward projects based on minimising operational expenditure rather than utilising capital expenditure.

While public cloud services will continue to exist, a drive toward private cloud services will likely see a proliferation of niche, specialised clouds that companies will be adopt to pick and choose from based on their individual needs.

The last two years has already seen such proliferation, with services such as Microsoft’s Windows Azure focussing on application testing and development rather than all available cloud applications.

“People are saying that, ‘yeah we now understand what the cloud can do, we understand that we can do public and we can do private. For some things private is better than public and for others public has great advantages,’” Morris said. “I think in the last twelve months we’ve come out of this period of hype and our view has crystallised on what cloud can and can’t do and we can build proper strategies.”

Morris made similar predictions with the release of the analyst firm’s Cloud Services and Technologies End-User Survey earlier in the month.

IDC’s forecast also coheres with those made recently by Gartner vice president, Tom Bittman, who provided statistics from his own poll indicating IT leaders were concentrating more on private clouds.

He wrote that 75 per cent of those polled in the US said that they would be pursuing a private cloud strategy by 2012, and 75 per cent said that they would invest more in private clouds than in public clouds through 2012.

Some have derided the private cloud as a name change for the hosted infrastructure and services offered by the likes of IBM for years, and a step away from the multi-tenant base on which many public clouds are based. However, the concerns of security lacking in public infrastructure - and particularly the lack of data centres based in Australia - have held companies back from pushing sensitive data into the cloud.

In contrast, those in the private arena offer localised centres that provide greater comfort for apprehensive companies, with services from the likes of HP, IBM and CSC.

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