Simplifying the Path Toward Hybrid Cloud

By Colby Dyess | May 22, 2014

Open source cloud platforms are coming to the fore as organizations look for ways to extend their on-premises virtualized environments and access self-service and elastic options for compute, storage and networking resources. Many enterprises are looking for a balance between private and public deployments that weaves together the best features for control, performance and scalability.

Still, the path toward efficient, economical private and hybrid cloud computing architectures hasn't been easy for everyone. Some organizations have struggled with cloudwashed products that only extend virtualization or wrangled with do-it-yourself private cloud implementations, finding themselves ultimately squeezed between their wariness of public cloud unknowns and the perceived paucity of features in private cloud ecosystems. While they may secretly want to move some or many of their workloads to the public cloud, concerns about data handling and performance may be holding them back.

But companies need not go through such an ordeal, as the path toward hybrid cloud has become much simpler and easier to adopt.

Why Hybrid Cloud is Taking Off

As its name lets on, hybrid cloud is about balance and choice. Earlier this month, Forbes contributor Mike Kavis chronicled how hybrid cloud is becoming a defining force within IT, focusing on how it can fill a key gap between the technical challenges and limitations of on-premises IT environments and the perceived security gaps and commoditized performance of public cloud.

"Two to three years ago, most enterprises were wary of the public cloud due to concerns in the areas of security, privacy, and compliance," Kavis observed. "Private clouds were the preferred solution for enterprises. What many of these enterprises discovered was that building private clouds was hard and expensive and achieving all of the benefits that the public cloud offers was not attainable."

That was basically the case a few years ago, but times have changed. Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos, responding to a March blog post on Cloud Opinions, wrote that while controlling a company's IT destiny has historically been challenging, the evolution of the cloud paradigm has significantly altered the landscape.

"There is a common perception that controlling your IT destiny is complicated and expensive. It certainly has been so," Mickos wrote. "But today with highly evolved hardware and highly automated cloud platforms, operation of your own infrastructure is becoming easier and less expensive by the day. As design patterns flow from the world of public clouds to the world of private clouds, those private clouds become much easier to manage than traditional datacenters."

Mickos also noted, like Kavis, that Amazon was innovating at an astonishing pace, but that there was still plenty of space for private and hybrid cloud arrangements that meet specific organizational requirements. It really depends on what the company needs and what resources it is willing to devote to its problems.

For example, while using a public cloud ensures access to dedicated site reliability engineers, it could be much less expensive and require fewer personnel to maintain uptime in a private cloud setting. Finding the right combination for each workflow and type of infrastructure has led to hybrid cloud proliferation, with Gartner projecting that half of large enterprises will have one in place by 2017.

"Hybrid cloud is central to the conversation about cloud computing," Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth told The Wall Street Journal. "Some large organizations are native to the cloud or moved all of their computing to the cloud, but they are rare. Most companies are committed to public and private clouds, and getting data to the right cloud. Hybrid cloud is without a doubt central to the conversation and thought about the cloud as far as we can tell."

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