Who's moving to the private cloud and why?

Sometimes it seems as if everybody is talking about moving to the cloud. Most leading companies seem to mean public cloud when they say this. But what’s the reality? Is anyone moving to the private cloud? How quickly are companies adopting Software as a Service (SaaS) applications? Who is keeping their apps on premises, and why?

F5’s latest State of Application Delivery 2017 report probed into these and other questions. The goal: to get beyond the hype to an accurate snapshot of how organizations are attempting to deliver applications faster, smarter, and more securely. One of the key findings of the report might surprise you. On-premises private cloud appears to be an increasingly attractive option.

Investments in private cloud top others

Three cloud types were described as “strategically important” by survey respondents. Private cloud came out on top (39 percent), followed by public cloud (38 percent), and SaaS (37 percent). On-premises private clouds will see the largest amount of investment this year, according to 46 percent of respondents.

Top 3 clouds

39% on-premises private, 38% public, and 37% SaaS.

So which workloads are organizations moving to the private cloud? Not surprisingly, applications that collect, store, and process sensitive or confidential data are prime candidates for on-premises private clouds. As you might expect, apps with the highest on-premises private cloud footprints are internal finance (44 percent), human resources (40 percent), and billing (38 percent).

On-premise private cloud appears to be an increasingly attractive option.

Additionally, organizations reported a strong preference for using on-premises private cloud for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) apps (26 percent). This makes sense, too. After all, the large volume of data that industrial “things” transmit means that it’s more efficient to locate the devices—whether servers in the data center or equipment in a hospital—close to where the data will be processed.

Automation frameworks on the rise

The use of frameworks has skyrocketed in popularity, going from just 20 percent in 2016 to nearly 50 percent this year. And the number of businesses choosing to use just a single framework indicates that they’re standardizing—a critical first step toward faster automation and orchestration of processes. The top frameworks in use are:

  • VMware (54 percent): With its leadership role in the market and the fact that its flagship technology—virtualization—is pervasive, VMware makes it easy for companies to add automation and orchestration on top of their virtualized environments.
  • Cisco (37 percent): Cisco knows the network and argues that virtualizing and automating the network is essential for a successful move to the cloud. Using this framework is natural choice for those who put the network front and center of their operations.
  • OpenStack (24 percent): This up-and-coming open source framework has matured considerably in recent years, with Red Hat and other top-tier vendors offering enterprise support for it. What makes OpenStack attractive is its extensibility with the entire rich open-source ecosystem.

There are two primary reasons to use automation frameworks to build private clouds: to reduce OpEx and to easily scale to meet demand. For many organizations, these are top priorities.

Private cloud is real

So the news here is that private cloud is real, and many organizations are ramping up use of frameworks to implement their on-premises private clouds.

Are private and public clouds truly that different? Probably not. You still get the agility, still reduce your OpEx, and still move from a model heavy with hardware and CapEx to one that bestows automation, scalability, and self-service benefits. Which is right for you? It depends on your workload, and what you are trying to do. Most organizations are going to end up using a combination of public and private clouds. Either way, if you do it well, you’ll reap sufficient advantages to make it worth your while.