Report: Cloud Overrun with Zombies

More than one in every two cloud servers is a zombie, and business must enter the land of the walking dead if they want to outpace their competition.

“New stuff tends to go to the public cloud … and new stuff is simply growing faster” than is the data run through physical servers, according to Gartner Research.

It’s becoming more clear all the time that public cloud is becoming the accepted model for computing. The benefits of the technology are incredible. First and foremost, it’s nice when Conrad Hilton is running through the cabin of your international flight – F-bombing, reeking of pot, and yelling that he’s going to murder you for not being classy like him – to escape by gazing out the window at your high-altitude cloud computer.

People also like cloud because they can cut their costs, Bernard Golden of Actuate argues, with an agile solution that can be quickly deployed and adjusted on the fly. It’s so easy to get a cloud virtual machine online that many machines sit idle. These zombie machines are certainly wasteful, but they seem to be a natural part of this transition to computing’s third platform.

Public Cloud Rises to Eclipse the Sun

Throughout the business world, across the planet, technologists and decision-makers are migrating to public cloud systems, the Gartner report indicates. The move is rapid, so rapid that the basic civil rights of zombies are often forgotten. The quantity of cloud virtual machines expanded 200% in just three years, between 2011 and 2014.

The gist is that there are now three times as many virtual machines – of all types, those run on cloud and on traditional servers. Private cloud servers have followed that same rate of growth, tripling since 2011.

What’s really mind-boggling, though – almost as mind-boggling as having a zombie pry open your head and snack on your brains – is the growth of public virtual machines, as described by the Gartner analyst who created the report, Thomas Bittman. Bittman said that the deployment of public cloud virtual machines has risen twenty-fold, with the public infrastructure-as-a-service model powering approximately one in five virtual servers. He added that as of last year, there are about six active machines operating through public clouds for every one machine running in private clouds set up in enterprises’ own data centers.

Essentially, wrote Adobe mobile VP Matt Asay for InfoWorld , the study revealed that private cloud is expanding respectably, while public cloud is running furiously as if it is being pursued by a slack-jawed cannibal hungry for all its data.

These Zombies are Not Moving

To better understand the above data, though, we really need to look at the level of activity, as Bittman advised.

“Lifecycle management and governance for VMs in the public cloud are not nearly as rigorous as management and governance in on-premises private clouds,” he said, which now means that between three and five out of every ten cloud machines are “zombies.”

The estimate could be conservative. Extraordinarily, Asay commented that his discussions with a diverse sampling of business IT leaders from Enterprises and SMBs has led him to believe that as many as four out of every five machines could be going unused.

Those who manage data centers should not be shocked by this report, Asay remarked as he reloaded his grenade launcher and peered out into the dark forest surrounding his remote cabin. McKinsey measurements from just over a year ago suggested that inefficiency was standard operating procedure in data centers, with only 6% of servers used on average. Gartner now places server utilization at 12%, so perhaps we are headed in the right direction.

The reason there are zombies in the cloud, then, is largely because of the general problem with IT waste – despite efforts by Cloudyn and other services to allow easier monitoring of cloud utilization.

Leave It All Behind & Run for Your Life

Public cloud has become commonplace because of its flexibility and ease. It’s so simple and fast to create a VM that one often gets lost in the shuffle.

Businesses could trim their expenses by pulling the plug on the zombies, explained Asay. However, it’s often not worth the effort since the technology is so inexpensive.

Bittman also analyzed the different types of workloads that run through private and public clouds, noting, “Public cloud VMs are much more likely to be used for horizontally scalable, cloud-friendly, short-term instances, while private cloud tends to have much more vertically scalable, traditional, long-term instances.”

In other words, new projects are being built in the public cloud. Although businesses don’t yet consider public cloud the right choice for everything, Asay sees the reliance on public cloud for new growth to be a sign that the private model is a “short-term stopgap,” while public machines represent the future.

You Want it Now?

You should be able to move whatever projects you want to public cloud quickly and reliably. Above all, you shouldn’t have to worry about terrible customer service, as when cloud service providers hire zombies to work their phone lines and occasionally travel to enterprises to eat entire IT departments.

Would you rather work with humans? Check out our customer success stories .

By Kent Roberts

Photo via  Gage Skidmore (via Wikipedia)