Will Snowden kill the public cloud?

A new survey shows a serious rethinking of the public cloud in the wake of the Snowden case. While the public cloud has gained little traction in the public sector, the security questions raised by this scandal will need to be addressed for wary customers.

In the government market, the usage of private clouds has far outstripped public clouds, and the Edward Snowden scandal has likely cemented that preference for years to come.

An analysis of budget documents by Deltek shows a strong preference for private clouds. They looked at Office of Management and Budget documents and put spending on private clouds at $1.8 billion in 2013, while public clouds reaped only $89 million.

The gap is expected to narrow a teensy bit in 2014: $1.7 billion for private and $118 million for public.

But this analysis was done prior to the Snowden case, and the scrutiny it has brought to how networks and data centers are secured.

Washington Technology has a sister publication, Redmond Magazine, that focuses primarily on the commercial sector and Microsoft in particular.

In a story this week, aptly called “Shattered Trust,” Redmond releases results of a survey it conducted that shows the commercial world retreating from the public cloud.

Thirty-five percent of respondents said they had put cloud deployments on hold in the wake of the Snowden scandal. Another 13.3 percent said they had pulled projects out of the cloud.

When asked if they planned to increase or decrease, 21.6 percent said they planned a “major decrease” in their spending on enterprise cloud services; however, 41.6 percent said they expected cloud spending to remain the same.

Because Redmond’s audience is primarily commercial IT providers and systems administrators, I don’t want to draw too strong a connection between their findings and what could happen in the government market.

But it is an informative survey because the heightened sensitivity to security raised by the Snowden case cuts across the commercial and government markets. While the intensity around certain issues might not be the same, you still need to be ready to address the questions no matter what market you are in.

We've recently explored other issues raised by the Snowden case in a webcast I hosted earlier this month. Check out the blog I wrote about that, and get a link to the webcast.