There is much concern among data center professions who design, build, and/or operate data center infrastructure and equipment that new data center projects will soon grind to a halt as workloads shift to the cloud.


Clearly overall workloads are shifting to the cloud in big ways. While workloads are roughly evenly shared between the cloud (public) and traditional (private) data centers, some are predicting that in as little as five years the cloud will process three times that of traditional data centers.


So this must mean that the private enterprise data center is doomed in the not-too-distant future. Not so fast. Keep in mind that while cloud adoption is expanding, workloads in aggregate are also growing, perhaps even doubling during this time horizon.


This means that public cloud-based workloads could triple while private workloads stay roughly the same. Certainly the private data center is not going to evaporate. As much as cloud is gaining momentum, there are many factors that will prevent both an immediate and complete shift away from traditional data center services and that influence NetApp’s approach to cloud.


What are these factors? Clearly risk management is one. The cloud industry is going through a period of intense change. Companies have to protect their key corporate technology assets and be prepared for an inevitable industry consolidation of cloud providers during the next few years. IT cannot afford to put business-critical applications at risk during this evolution.


Another key factor is the need for IT to have absolute control over some applications because of data privacy, security, and performance concerns. Critical customer or partner-facing applications cannot be put at the mercy of external providers that often have different priorities than their customers. In addition, companies are concerned moving their data and applications. Some cloud providers can hold companies ‘hostage’ by locking them into a platform from which it is difficult to extricate and move data. Finally, platform complexity could drive many applications to stay on-premises.


So how are we facing this issue at NetApp?


NetApp IT has embraced a hybrid cloud strategy leveraging NetApp capabilities to move applications between internal and external clouds. This gives us the flexibility and agility to move workloads between different service levels throughout the lifecycle of the application, whether it is in the cloud or on-premises. Our business-critical applications will be under our control and we will ensure we can freely orchestrate the movement of data between data centers and cloud providers.


NetApp and many other Fortune 500 companies will continue to invest in both internal and external cloud services into the foreseeable future. The decision “to cloud or not to cloud” will depend on specific application and business requirements. This hybrid cloud strategy also means that any plans to eliminate the private enterprise data center may be a bit premature.


To find out more about NetApp’s data centers, check out our past blog posts, What is a GDL and Why Do We Need Two? and The Hillsboro Data Center: The Foundation of the NetApp IT Hybrid Cloud Transformation.


The NetApp-on-NetApp blog series features advice from subject matter experts from NetApp IT who share their real-world experiences using NetApp’s industry-leading storage solutions to support business goals. Want to view learn more about the program? Visit

Mark Skiff