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Some Perspective on the Explosion of VMs in the Cloud

by Tom Bittman  |  March 5, 2015  |  22 Comments

Virtualization was dominated by on-premises enterprise virtualization, and on-premises private clouds were the primary sourcing model for VMs offered as a service – for a few years. Certainly not true today.

In 2011, roughly 3 percent of all virtual machines (VMs) were sourced in public cloud IaaS providers (mainly Amazon). That was also roughly equal to the number of VMs being delivered in true on-premises private clouds (standard offerings through self-service with automated delivery – NOT custom-provisioned, NOT manually delivered).

A lot’s changed in three years.

Priv Vendors 2011 2014

The overall number of active VMs has tripled. The number of VMs in true on-premises private clouds has also tripled. But the number of active VMs in the public cloud has increased by a factor of twenty. Public cloud IaaS now accounts for about 20 percent of all VMs – and there are now roughly six times more active VMs in the public cloud than in on-premises private clouds.

At the same time, isolation options from public cloud providers are growing – more and more are offering semi-private, virtual-private, or fully-private capabilities.

There’s a fair amount of waste here – life cycle management and governance for VMs in the public cloud are not nearly as rigorous as management and governance in on-premises private clouds. Perhaps 30-50 percent of the VMs in the public cloud are zombies (private clouds have zombies and life cycle management challenges, too – just not as bad).

Also, the demographic of workloads in each are very different – 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. There are certainly examples of new cloud-friendly instances in private clouds, and examples of traditional workloads migrated to public cloud IaaS, but those aren’t the norm. New stuff tends to go to the public cloud, while doing old stuff in new ways tends to go to private clouds.

And new stuff is simply growing faster.

Category: applications  cloud  future-of-infrastructure  hybrid-it  it-governance  private-cloud  virtualization  

Tags: cloud-computing  private-cloud  virtualization  

Thomas J. Bittman
VP Distinguished Analyst
20 years at Gartner
31 years IT industry

Thomas Bittman is a vice president and distinguished analyst with Gartner Research. Mr. Bittman has led the industry in areas such as private cloud computing and virtualization. Mr. Bittman invented the term "real-time infrastructure," which has been adopted by major vendors and many… Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Some Perspective on the Explosion of VMs in the Cloud


  1. […] same is true of cloud computing. As Gartner’s Tom Bittman described[6], “New stuff tends to go to the public cloud, while doing old stuff in new ways tends to go […]

  2. […] Clearly, there’s an industrywide, tectonic shift toward the scale and convenience of public cloud computing, as Gartner analyst Thomas Bittman’s research shows. […]

  3. […] Clearly, there’s an industrywide, tectonic shift toward the scale and convenience of public cloud computing, as Gartner analyst Thomas Bittman’s research shows. […]

  4. […] other IT projects. Small wonder, then, that public cloud VMs have grown 20x in the past few years, according to Gartner’s Thomas Bittman[8], while private cloud VMs have managed a more miserly 3x […]

  5. […] other IT projects. Small wonder, then, that public cloud VMs have grown 20x in the past few years, according to Gartner’s Thomas Bittman, while private cloud VMs have managed a more miserly 3x […]

  6. […] VM migration from Thomas Bittman at Gartner, March 2015. […]

  7. Greg Knieriemen (@Knieriemen) says:

    Is there a source/link for the VM survey?

  8. […] contention is backed up by Gartner analyst Thomas Bittman’s research[4], who finds that public cloud VMs have exploded by 20X, while private cloud VMs have grown just […]

  9. […] case you missed it, the cloud is a big deal. According to Gartner data[3], the number of virtual machines in the public cloud grew 20X in the last few years. Gartner […]

  10. […] Bar AWS User Group Eksplozja VM w chmurze by Gartner Wyniki Eurostat w EU-28 Czym Jest Cloud Computing – Opdowiedź Polskich Ekspertów Definicja […]

  11. […] public cloud adoption continues to hurtle forward, even as private cloud adoption limps along. As Gartner data shows, private cloud VMs have grown 3X over the last year, which sounds good until you compare it to […]

  12. […] Microsoft hedges its cloud bets by selling a hybrid approach. But as Gartner shows, the public cloud is growing three times as fast as private cloud, with most new, faster-growing […]

  13. […] つまるところ、ガートナー社のアナリスト、トーマス・ビットマンが指摘するように、「新しいワークロード(作業に要する容量)は、パブリッククラウドに移動する傾向にあり(中略)明らかに急成長している」。その成長スピードは、データセンターのワークロードよりも速い。 […]

  14. […] Microsoft hedges its cloud bets by promoting a hybrid strategy. However as Gartner shows, the general public cloud is rising 3 times as quick as personal cloud, with most new, […]

  15. […] it is absolutely the case that new workloads are moving to new, increasingly cloud-based platforms where NoSQL shines, it’s also true that enterprises continue to trust the venerable RDBMS for […]

  16. […] it is absolutely the case that new workloads are moving to new, increasingly cloud-based platforms where NoSQL shines, it’s also true that enterprises continue to trust the venerable RDBMS for […]

  17. […] it is absolutely the case that new workloads are moving to new, increasingly cloud-based platforms where NoSQL shines, it’s also true that enterprises continue to trust the venerable RDBMS for […]

  18. […] it is absolutely the case that new workloads are moving to new, increasingly cloud-based platforms where NoSQL shines, it’s also true that enterprises continue to trust the venerable RDBMS for […]

  19. […] do the survey results match up with independent analyses. Take Gartner’s, for example, which found that public cloud virtual machines (VMs) have grown 20X, compared to […]

  20. […] do the survey results match up with independent analyses. Take Gartner’s, for example, which found that public cloud virtual machines (VMs) have grown 20X, compared to […]

  21. […] do the survey results match up with independent analyses. Take Gartner’s, for example, which found that public cloud virtual machines (VMs) have grown 20X, compared to […]



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