Gartner predicts that almost half of large enterprises will be engaged in a combined, public/private cloud operation, often described as "hybrid" cloud computing, four years from now.

Gartner analyst Thomas Bittman makes the projection in an Oct. 1 report, "Private Cloud Matures, Hybrid Cloud Is Next." The report implicitly assumes that the opposition to public cloud, which looms large in many enterprise IT surveys, will fall away in the near future, at least for limited hybrid operations.

Hybrid cloud wasn't necessarily a goal as enterprises undertook their first cloud projects. Bittman found that "nearly half of large enterprises polled have deployed a private cloud service." Of those polled, only 11% had no plans to build a private cloud through 2014.

Companies have been building out private cloud operations because they want the speed of provisioning, the flexible capacity to respond to increased demand, and the more standard architecture they see operating in the largest public clouds. They would include the facilities and services of Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine and Microsoft's Azure. Facebook has published the server, storage and networking specifications that the early public cloud builders kept under wraps, giving enterprise IT a checklist of how it might go about building its own self-service provisioning and automated operations.

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