Public cloud limitations drive enterprises to hybrid cloud, shows study

Many enterprises are turning to a hybrid cloud model as the limitations of public cloud platforms become more apparent

The limitations of using public cloud as a one-size-fits-all service are becoming more apparent, causing a growing number of UK and US enterprises to adopt a hybrid cloud infrastructure instead, according to research.

The study, commissioned by managed hosting services and cloud provider Rackspace and conducted by market research firm Vanson Bourne, found that 60% of respondents have moved or are considering moving certain applications or workloads, either partially (41%) or completely (19%), off the public cloud because of its limitations or the potential benefits of other platforms, such as a hybrid cloud.

The respondents defined hybrid cloud infrastructure as a public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers working together in any combination.

The research also showed that 60% of IT decision-makers view hybrid cloud as the culmination of their cloud journey, rather than a stepping stone to using the public cloud alone for all their cloud needs. 

Some 72% of US respondents agreed that hybrid was their final destination, while 49% of UK respondents said the same.

Action for Children made switch from public to hybrid cloud

For instance, UK charity Action for Children has previously used public cloud services for many of its applications and workloads, but found it couldn't cope with growth. “As we grew it became clear that some of these applications were becoming too complex for a public cloud-only deployment,” said Darren Robertson, digital communications data scientist at Action for Children.

Today, its infrastructure comprises Rackspace cloud services to host its website, the charity’s internal datacentre to host sensitive data about the children it deals with, and a Rackspace hosting service to run some of its other applications.

“We chose a hybrid cloud solution, which includes public cloud, to ensure adequate control over our infrastructure, and have also enjoyed performance, reliability, security and cost benefits,” Robertson said.

Action for Children uses the hybrid cloud platform to ensure the privacy, security and control of dedicated servers, with the ability to burst into a public cloud when necessary.

The charity uses the cloud for big data analytics, placing on it a Hadoop cluster of customer, donor and fundraiser data, so that it can provide its diverse user groups with customised online experiences and improve engagement.

Study reveals hybrid cloud migration

“The findings indicate that hybrid cloud is the next step for many organisations. They may have started with a public cloud-only architecture, but have come to realise the limitations of this approach as they’ve continued on their cloud journey,” said John Engates, CTO of Rackspace.

The research also found that hybrid cloud is now used by nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents for at least a portion of their application portfolio, with more US organisations (80%) likely to use it than UK ones (64%).

Respondents cited better security (52%), greater control (42%), and better performance or reliability (37%) as top reasons for moving away from a public cloud-only approach to a hybrid one.

Some 60% of IT decision-makers view hybrid cloud as the culmination of their cloud journey

The study also questioned existing users of hybrid cloud platforms to assess the benefits of the infrastructure. Users reported more control, better security, better reliability, reduced costs and better performance as its top advantages.

The average reduction in overall cloud costs from using hybrid cloud, for those who have seen a reduction, was 17%.

Hybrid cloud gives best of both worlds 

One UK business that moved from in-house IT to hybrid cloud IT is online florist

“In the past we used dedicated servers for almost all of our applications and workloads, but as we grew it became clear that some of these applications were better suited to a public cloud deployment,” said Barry Parkin, IT manager at

The company’s hybrid infrastructure includes the use of public cloud to handle seasonal peaks in online demand and dedicated servers to ensure adequate control over other parts of its IT infrastructure.

“Having these two platforms working together in combination means we enjoy performance, reliability, security and cost benefits. The flexibility of the hybrid infrastructure has also improved our testing and development capability and allows us to support BYOD [bring your own device],” Parkin said.

IT architecture tailored to fit

Businesses turn to the hybrid cloud because it can combine the best of public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers, delivering a common architecture that can be tailored to create the best fit for their specific needs, according to Rackspace's Engates.

“For example, instead of trying to run a big database in the public cloud on its own, which can be very problematic, businesses can use the hybrid cloud to run that database more efficiently on a dedicated server that can burst into the public cloud when needed,” he said.

But public cloud still remains important to IT decision-makers at UK and US enterprises involved in the research, media or multiple geographical locations. Organisations such as News International, Netflix and Domino’s Pizza use elements of public cloud infrastructure.

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