Private cloud vs. public cloud vs. hybrid cloud

There's no denying it: practically every business is moving to the cloud or at least thinking about it. But with a number of options available to them, many are still experimenting with which works best.

The decision to build a private cloud, use a public offering or go with a combination of both comes down to a number of factors, says Rick Wright, the head of KPMG's global cloud enablement initiative.

Companies must consider business criticality of the applications they want to move to the cloud, regulatory issues, required service levels, usage patterns for the workloads and how integrated the application must be with other enterprise functions, he says.

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BACKGROUND: NW's Cloud Computing Research Center

Businesses like those in the pharmaceutical industry that must comply with strict regulations and that have highly critical applications will end up with internal private clouds. With a private cloud, businesses install their own server and storage hardware but have the flexibility to shift workloads among servers as usage spikes or they deploy new applications.

On the other end of the spectrum are companies that need to bring a service to market quickly, have few regulatory hurdles and are using data that doesn't have to be tightly integrated with other parts of the business, he says. Businesses in these scenarios are turning to public cloud offerings, like Amazon Web Services, where they can sign up for and start using compute, storage and other services immediately via an online portal.

Tech debate: Public or private cloud

Security is still an issue for executives considering the cloud but it has dropped dramatically in importance, Wright says, indicating it may not be as crucial a factor for companies that are considering public cloud services as it once was.

Half of IT executives at companies where cloud is or will be adopted say security is the most important challenge or concern, compared with 42% of business unit executives surveyed, KPMG says. That's a dramatically smaller percentage of people concerned with security compared to a year ago, he says.

In a recent worldwide survey of over 800 senior executives, KPMG found that 41% of respondents said they are using or plan to use some kind of private cloud and 30% said they either are or have plans to use a public cloud.

However, ultimately most businesses, including those with the most stringent regulatory requirements and those with the least, will likely end up using both kinds scenarios for a hybrid setup.

"From what we're seeing today, the majority of enterprises are going to end up with a hybrid model," Wright says.

A hybrid cloud comprises both public and private cloud services. A business might run an application primarily on a private cloud but rely on a public cloud service to accommodate for spikes in usage, for instance.

No matter how businesses decide to move to the cloud, one thing's clear: they are moving to the cloud. Around 81% of people in KPMG's survey said that their companies were either evaluating cloud services, planned a cloud implementation or had already implemented a cloud strategy, including public and private services. Fewer than one in 10 said they had no immediate plans to start using the cloud.

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