Despite widespread availability, cloud continues to raise questions for businesses looking at the best way to take their company forward in the digital age. Public, private or hybrid? Everything as a service or applications and workloads on-premises? The variety of cloud configurations is as diverse as the companies adopting them.

When most people think of cloud, it’s likely public cloud which springs to mind. It’s certainly one of the most broadly used, in part because public cloud is widely believed to be as a cost-effective data storage option. However, there’s continued debate amongst teams on the trade-off between the benefits delivered by public cloud versus perceived issues.  

For many, one of the biggest benefits of public cloud is the cost savings it can provide. But choosing to utilise public cloud shouldn’t be solely based on cost. Public cloud also provides significant benefits when it comes to business agility and productivity. The ability to quickly scale, collaborate across borders, benefit from the latest updates in applications and ultimately gain a competitive advantage are part of the reasons organisations choose to deploy public cloud applications and services.

On the opposite side, when compared to the best on-premises solutions, public cloud can in some instances be a performance, reliability and security downgrade. With changing compliance demands in organisations, this perceived downgrade is prompting a renewed focus on on-premises IT. A recent IDC study into the incoming GDPR [1] found that despite downward pressure on IT spend, 34% of European organisations will increase expenditure on on-premises storage solutions to aid compliance with GDPR.

While this focus on on-premises might provide better data estate visibility and ensure clarity of data residency, the reality is that organisations that aren’t using public cloud in some capacity are likely missing out.

Public cloud should be a part of a business’s strategy, it just shouldn’t be ‘the’ strategy. Rather than existing as competing options, cloud and on-premises should complement each other and integration between them should be the focus for building an agile, and secure, IT estate. A significant majority of companies – 72% in the UK according to our Evolution report – do recognise that cloud and on-premises storage should complement rather than compete. As a result, the focus can shift to what the best hybrid environment is for the business.

With the rise of data-intensive AI and Machine Learning projects in business, there is a growing demand for high-performance infrastructure. As a result, hybrid and multi-cloud environments also need to meet this high-performance requirement, enabling data to be delivered and processed quickly. To match these workload requirements, many organisations are choosing to use public cloud in combination with on-premises storage.  This combination ultimately delivers the performance requirements and cloud burst compute needed for these data intensive tasks, while also meeting strict data security, governance and compliance requirements.

For many organisations moving to hybrid cloud can require a shift in mind-set and a re-evaluation of priorities amongst the IT department. But it is increasingly clear that the future is going to be hybrid and multi-cloud focussed. As a result, those who don’t make the jump are going to be left at a competitive disadvantage.