Corporate Datacenter Trends

Public Cloud Takes Root


By Tracy Corbo

A slow and steady shift is happening. While centralized datacenters remain the IT mainstay for the bulk of workloads, there is a shift away from owning local datacenters and removing server closets in favor of hosted solutions.

Smaller organizations have been quicker to embrace public cloud computing because, in the near term, it reduces the amount of money they need to invest on company-owned IT infrastructure. Yet larger organizations are also committed to making use of public cloud platforms as a way to reduce cost and improve operationial efficiencies.

Larger companies face more of a challenge when it comes to migrating workloads to public cloud environments. While smaller organizations can often migrate workloads in three months or less, larger organizations can take up to six months or longer, depending on the amount of data and any added complexity of integrating back-end systems into the process.

An April survey of 550 members of the 451 Global Digital Infrastructure Alliance looks at how IT environment usage is shifting toward public cloud, and how this is impacting workload placement and migration.

Report Highlights

  • High-Priority Projects. The number one priority across organizations of all sizes is to do a better job with what IT assets we currently have. So much has already been invested in the existing IT infrastructure that it behooves companies to find ways to make the most of the assets already in place.
  •  Public cloud Usage Growing. Over half of the respondents report utilizing cloud service providers, and that is up from the previous year. Meanwhile, usage of server rooms/closets and local datacenters show signs of gradually decreasing.
  •  Workloads and Public cloud. The respondents that are currently running the bulk of their workloads using cloud service providers tend to come from smaller organizations. However, in the coming year, larger organizations are pushing to move more workloads to the cloud.
  • Migrating Workloads to Public cloud. The process to migrate workloads to public cloud is more complex for larger organizations; therefore, on average, it takes longer than it does for smaller organizations. However, this is not deterring them from making the move.

IT Environments

The respondents that participated in this survey own datacenters/server rooms or use colocation services.

Taking a look at IT environments in use year over year, there has been a slight drop in traditional in-house deployment options in favor of public cloud and, to a lesser degree, colocation providers.

Public cloud Takes Root. A closer look at the top three IT environments by company size shows that, while 71% of very large organizations are still operating their own datacenters, their usage of CSPs (69%) is nearly on par.

Colocation is also a stronger option for the midsize companies, especially for those with 1,000 to 9,999 employees. Colocation is a viable strategic option for companies looking to consolidate their datacenters or reduce their own internal IT footprint.

Types of Datacenters. Respondents were asked to classify their organizations’ primary datacenter. Just over 60% of respondents have either a Tier 2 or Tier 3 as their primary datacenter, with another 24% running a fully fault-tolerant Tier 4 facility. Tier 1 is found among smaller organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees.

High-Priority Datacenter Projects

The top priority for IT organizations of all sizes continues to be improving on the usage of existing IT assets (55%, up 5-pts). A greater importance is being placed on datacenter consolidation this year (32%, up 10-pts) compared with last year.

As expected, datacenter consolidation is a more pressing issue for very large organizations with more than 10,000 employees, while improving asset utilization is a higher priority for companies with 250-999 employees.


Cost and security top the list as being the most influential factors when it comes to the primary location for a workload. Compliance is more of an issue for very large organizations, while performance is more of a concern for smaller organizations.

A closer look at the influence of cost and security shows that cost is a greater factor for smaller organizations, and security has slightly more of an impact with larger organizations.