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The cloud is an invaluable cog in our new, intelligent built environments. Without the cloud, digitization strategies would be slowed significantly, the power of big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) would be considerably lower, and the number of organizations and individuals with access to such technologies would be a small fraction of what we see today. Without the cloud, the Data Age would not be possible.

“Cloud computing is leveraged by most firms involved in Big Data initiatives to process Big Data, with up to 90% IT decision makers now stating that they use some type of cloud service,” according to our recent report Towards Data-Driven Buildings: Big Data for Smart Buildings 2018 to 2023. The real choice facing organizations today is what type of cloud solution to opt for. “Organizations face a choice between deploying their own skills and resources to develop in-house private cloud solutions, or opt for one of the many public cloud-based Big Data solutions now available,” the report continues.

Public cloud solutions include, and are dominated by, some of the world’s biggest tech companies. According to the Eclipse Foundation’s 2017 IOT developer survey, 90% of the market is controlled by three familiar names. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has the biggest share by some margin with 42.7% of cloud usage for IoT solutions, followed by Microsoft’s Azure platform with 26.7% and Google’s Cloud service with 20.4%. The size of these organizations allowed them to reach a critical mass of developers whose combined work facilitates sustainable growth, that and providing an attractive offering to the customer.

Perhaps the most powerful characteristic of cloud computing is its affordability. Large in-house servers have traditionally been reserved for the wealthiest organizations, while the rest of the business world remained data-poor. Public cloud computing has led to Data-Storage-as-a-Service, giving companies of all sizes the ability to benefit from data on a large-scale. This has triggered a wave of software as a service (SaaS) providers and encouraged all kinds of organizations to experiment with the power of big data. AI might be the brains but cloud computing gives the world access to that intelligence.

The private cloud, on the other hand, had steadily been floating towards a niche market position for large organizations that place a high priority on the privacy and security of their data, that is until a relatively recent turnaround. In a process being called “Cloud Repatriation,” there is a growing trend towards companies migrating their data back from the public cloud to private servers. While privacy and security may be a reason for some repatriations, the report detailed a survey citing a variety of other motivations for reversing their data storage strategies.

“Organizations may wish to follow a private cloud strategy for a variety of reasons, from reducing their reliance on external providers for their IT needs, minimizing risks related to security and the privacy of sensitive data, as well as retaining internal overall control of performance,” explains our in-depth report. A remarkable 80% of IT decision-makers who participated in IDC’s 2018 Cloud and AI Adoption Survey saying their organization has migrated either applications or data that were primarily part of a public cloud environment to private cloud solution in the last year.

451 Research meanwhile, contend that this phenomenon isn’t really repatriation or reverse migration, but simply an evolution of cloud approaches, with more businesses seeing the value of a hybrid IT strategy. “A private cloud approach also tends to be more appealing for large companies wishing to benefit from the cost and flexibility of a cloud-based approach who retain some degree of in-house IT expertise and already operate data center infrastructures,” suggested our report.

Hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment composed of two or more types of cloud infrastructure. That could be public or private, community cloud or others that arise in the future. Crucial to the operation of a hybrid cloud is the orchestration between the multiple platforms. While bound together, the public and private segments of the hybrid cloud remain unique entities. This allows a hybrid cloud to offer the benefits of multiple deployment models simultaneously to suit the needs of the organization.

“An increasingly popular approach is to adopt a so-called “hybrid-cloud” approach, using private cloud solutions for sensitive or business-critical applications, and public cloud services for wider Big Data analytics,” claims the report that explores the adoption of hybrid cloud computing by industry to unearth some surprising results. The overall picture, however, is of a cloud computing landscape that offers a range of solutions for all kinds of organizations and objectives in this blossoming data age.