Public or private cloud? New research suggests that IT managers won’t need to make that choice and will opt for a combination of the two.

Hybrid cloud is the future, according to the study, which San Antonio, Texas-based cloud hosting service Rackspace commissioned. The results found that 60 percent of the 400 IT buyers surveyed (based in the U.S. and the U.K.) are considering moving their workloads off the public cloud.

“When you’re inside the bubble — you talk amongst yourselves, to analysts and the press — but we wanted to go out and figure out what customers are really thinking,” Rackspace CTO John Engates told me. “I was surprised by how many people were thinking about the hybrid cloud — the industry has really started to come around.”

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Indeed, the industry appears to be crawling in this direction. Forty-one percent of survey respondents reported that they are planning to move a partial portion of their workloads or applications; 19 percent said they will shift entirely.

The survey, which independent research firm Vanson Bourne conducted, also explored some of the reasons that the hybrid cloud is such an attractive option for IT. These include:

  • Security (52 percent)
  • More control (42 percent)
  • Better performance or reliability (37 percent)

Rackspace’s hybrid cloud strategy

I asked Engates whether Rackspace would consider altering its sales strategy or product roadmap, in accordance with these results. Will Rackspace actively push its customers shift to a more hybrid approach?

Engates admitted that the company spent most of 2012 building out its public cloud offering. “We did a tremendous amount of work to put it on OpenStack and add new products and features,” he said. The goal was to keep pace with cloud computing giants, like Amazon Web Services (AWS).

However, the company subsequently found that many of its customers, primarily the software as a service (SaaS) vendors and tech startups, are “growing out” of the public cloud’s capabilities.

“Performance isn’t keeping up,” said Engates. “These cloud natives feel like they need something customized.”

Rackspace will dedicate the next few years to promoting and developing its Hybrid Cloud offering, which lets customers leverage existing cloud and dedicated hardware.

“That’s the right trajectory for our company,” Engates concluded. “Hybrid cloud for hybrid enterprises.”