Is Data Coming Back Home to the Data Center? Yes.

There is no reason to expect AWS and other cloud service providers to be wiped off the map.

Half of public cloud applications are moving to private cloud and non-cloud infrastructure. That finding comes from an IDC survey of enterprises, 80% of which say they are bringing some workloads back on-site.

Such cloud repatriation may come as a surprise to the commentators who had, for years, declared the data center dead. Instead, the proponents of hybrid models are proving correct.

The issues driving the public cloud pull-back are familiar: security, performance, and cost. There is increasing recognition that some workloads simply don’t make sense in the cloud. Another key indicator of likely repatriation is application interdependency. Playing well with others seems to be easier at home.

“Cloud First” Shifts to “On-Premises First”?

Some experts, including the U.S. Army’s Chief Data Officer, are now recommending “ruthless rationalization” regarding cloud migration. To avoid moving workloads to the cloud only to encounter reasons to bring them back on-site, organizations should be demanding full justification for a cloud implementation before charging forward.

This represents a radical shift in some segments from the “cloud first” mentality of the past several years, of which the EU’s cloud first mandate is a prime example.

Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell has linked the new interest in on-premises to the software-defined data center. As he said in a CRN interview:

What we have seen when you automate and modernize the infrastructure, software-define everything, and move up to the platform level, is that for the predictable workloads – which are for most companies 85 percent to 90 percent of their workloads – an on-premises solution is much more cost effective.

A software-defined infrastructure is often a more manageable one, and our data centers will become increasingly autonomous. These changes are helping to alleviate some of the pain points that had been driving customers to the cloud and making on-premises attractive again.

Scalability and Elasticity at Home

There are a range of technologies putting on-premises infrastructure on a more level playing field with the hyperscale public cloud providers. Converged and hyperconverged infrastructure are more easily scalable, and composable or rack-scale technologies facilitate highly flexible provisioning. This means the elasticity that sent many enterprises into the cloud can be achieve on-site as well.

There is no reason to expect AWS and other cloud service providers to be wiped off the map. To the contrary, cloud growth will continue while CSPs also expand their on-premises offerings. The next era will, however, be more balanced, with no single approach being the first choice for all applications.

Once again, we find there is no panacea in IT. There are only tools and the use cases to which they can best be applied. In some situations, public cloud services are the right answer, but in equally many, on-premises delivers unbeatable advantage.