By Daniel Hunter

A new study by Rackspace Hosting suggests that while the public cloud remains important to IT decision-makers at UK and US enterprises involved in the research, the limitations of using this type of platform as a one-size-fits-all solution are becoming more apparent.

According to the survey, these limitations are leading many respondents to turn to a hybrid cloud infrastructure (i.e. public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers working together in any combination) for certain applications or workloads.

The Rackspace study, conducted by independent technology market research specialist Vanson Bourne, investigated the use of different types of clouds — public, private and hybrid — along with dedicated servers by UK and US enterprises. The study found that 60 per cent of respondents have moved or are considering moving certain applications or workloads either partially (41 per cent) or completely (19 per cent) off the public cloud because of its limitations or the potential benefits of other platforms, such as the hybrid cloud.

The research also shows that the majority (60 per cent) of IT decision-makers see 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.

“The findings of our study indicate that the hybrid cloud is the next cloud 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," John Engates, CTO of Rackspace, said.

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

For example, Darren Robertson, Digital Communications — Data Scientist for Action for Children, says: “In the past we used public cloud for many of our applications and workloads, but as we grew it became clear that some of these applications were becoming too complex for a public cloud-only deployment. We chose a hybrid cloud solution from Rackspace, which includes public cloud, to ensure adequate control over our infrastructure, and have also enjoyed performance, reliability, security and cost benefits.”

Action for Children, one of the UK’s largest and most prominent charities, uses Rackspace’s Hybrid Cloud to get the privacy, security and control of dedicated servers, but the ability to burst into a public cloud when necessary. Dedicated hardware — in the charity’s data centre but managed by Rackspace — is used to host sensitive data relating to children and families.

Rackspace’s Public Cloud provides the agility to accommodate spikes in website demand. The charity uses the same cloud for Big Data analytics, placing on it a Hadoop cluster of anonymised customer, donor and fundraiser data, so that it can provide its diverse user groups with bespoke online experiences to improve engagement and support.

Rackspace’s study also found that hybrid cloud is now used by nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of respondents for at least a portion of their application portfolio, with US organisations (80 per cent) more likely to use it than UK organisations (64 per cent). The top reasons respondents gave for why their organisation is using hybrid cloud instead of a public cloud only approach for certain applications or workloads are better security (52 per cent), more control (42 per cent), and better performance or reliability (37 per cent).

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