Netflix provides the blueprint for public cloud adoption

As big businesses increasingly move their most prized assets onto servers owned by the likes of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, it’s evident that the public cloud is becoming a more accepted form of storage. This migration is reflective of a large perception shift around public cloud that we’re noticing: it is now often seen not only as a flexible way to manage ever increasing workloads, but also as a more secure option than on premise storage.

In a recent high-profile example of this momentum, Netflix announced in late 2015 that it is moving all of its content to the public cloud. Such a move for a service so heavily dependent on near 100 per cent uptime demonstrates huge trust in the technology and a swing in perception that favours third party cloud service providers.

As a result of this complete shift to the public cloud, Netflix benefits greatly from the flexibility and scalability offered by these services. Netflix’s customer base has grown significantly over recent years, likely due to the availability of popular shows such as House of Cards, Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black. Plans to continue to develop its range of shows, including new series The Crown, based on the life of Queen Elizabeth II, will require further flexibility in data storage as new content and user details are added.

Another key benefit is that this public cloud model will provide Netflix with the ability to install points of presence throughout internationally distributed data centres, providing the company with instant access to new markets and an increased customer base. Indeed, the biggest proof point of the public cloud flexibility and scalability that Netflix is benefitting from, is that it’s expanding its services to a whopping 130 more countries – up from the 60 it already serves. The question that remains, however, is will these factors influence other ambitious companies looking to make the same transition?

According to a recent survey of 1500 IT professionals by BetterCloud, only about 12 per cent of companies currently run all IT operations in the cloud – but over 20 per cent of large companies are expected to solely use the public cloud for their data storage by 2022. The figures show that while complete reliance on the public cloud is still relatively rare, adoption will only rise in the foreseeable future.

However, while there are benefits to public cloud usage, IT systems are not a one-size-fits-all operation. IT needs depend on the size, structure and industry of the business, among other factors. What works for Netflix will not necessarily work for everyone, and many businesses will find that combining best in class services from a range of providers is the best way to meet their IT needs.

IT systems will need to be right sized in order to ensure that public cloud and other hybrid solutions, including colocation, can complement and grow alongside each other. And given that all cloud storage is hosted in a data centre, third party colocation providers will continue to have an important role to play in supporting and powering the growth of the public cloud.

Darren Watkins, Managing Director at VIRTUS