Few would dispute that cloud technologies have become essential for modern businesses, but they’ve always come with a trade-off. Private cloud strategies may save operating costs and increase security while allowing more direct and fine-grained control over servers and processes, but they can be costly in terms of time, setup expenses, and employee expertise. Public cloud, on the other hand, frequently offers easy access to cloud-oriented expertise and easy scalability, but removes some control and potentially introduces security vulnerabilities. To balance these pros and cons, more and more businesses are moving to a hybrid cloud approach.
Cloud by the Numbers
The sixth annual Future of Cloud Computing Survey conducted by North Bridge and Wikibon underscores the importance of cloud technology: 90% of companies use the cloud in some way, almost 80% derive some revenue from the cloud, and nearly half use a primarily cloud-based or exclusively could-based strategy. The survey also reveals that by and large, more companies (47%) rely on hybrid approaches than exclusively public cloud services (30%) or private cloud services (23%).
While private cloud lags behind the public cloud in terms of exclusive adoption, other statistics are telling: data-driven enterprises are more likely to store data in a private cloud (59%) than a public one (28%). This speaks to ongoing concerns about the security of the cloud itself, as well as securely transferring data – but as the public cloud continues to mature and its security becomes more robust, that gap may close.
Data is also not the primary demand driver of cloud services. That honor belongs to Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings: around 70% of companies use SaaS in some way. Data storage comes in third for most popular services offered by the cloud (53%); infrastructure edges it out at 58%.
Data is, however, one arena in which public and hybrid cloud services shine, because scalability is comparatively cheap and easy. In particular, elasticity – the ability to increase and decrease available server resources with fluctuating demand – is more accessible in the cloud, where high demand can be amortized over a number of customers. The same benefits apply to Analytics as a Service, which is emerging as a top priority in cloud customers: over half of companies surveyed named it as a future cloud feature at the top of their lists.
In all, cloud strategies have secured a place as essential business infrastructure, whether in the public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud. The only question that remains is how enterprises can leverage cloud services for maximum business gain.