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Hybrid Cloud Making Headway

A number of major announcements made over the past several weeks have proven that the hybrid cloud has reached an inflection point. Oracle made a series of sweeping cloud announcements in a move that will position it as a competitor of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure. Dell and Microsoft announced a major hybrid cloud partnership. And IBM recently bought Graviant to bolster its hybrid cloud services.

Based on this activity, it would appear that cloud adoption is rampant and vendors are rushing to capitalize on the cloud. The reality is different. Many customers, including SMBs and larger enterprises, still have reservations about the cloud. They mistrust it;  they don't think the cloud is secure and easy. These concerns are based on an outdated point of view. I’ll discuss some specific reasons why hybrid cloud is safer and easier than ever before, but first let’s look at the big picture.

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper once said, "The most dangerous phrase in the English language is 'We've always done it this way."  The danger of this attitude is that it can lead people to miss opportunities to do things in a better way. This is especially true for IT. Many tech professionals have long thought that cloud migration and cloud disaster recovery (DR) deployments were cumbersome and risk-prone, and consequently, would not consider the cloud as an option for their existing multi-tier apps.

These highly-trained professionals also ignore the fact that many traditional data centers also face these problems and are currently worse than ever as complexity sprawls into every cabinet.

In reality, traditional data centers have always been complex. Replicating apps, stack configurations and moving infrastructure into the cloud will always be a complex undertaking.  But a number of important innovations in software are reducing the complexity and improving the business case for hybrid cloud DR and migration.

The following core advancements make deploying a hybrid cloud easier than ever before:

Live migration is a reality for many app environments. One of the major sticking points for IT pros in the past was that in order to move to a hybrid cloud, they essentially had to shut down their data centers while the migration took place. This could take weeks and sometimes months, causing significant disruption to a business' day-to-day operations.

Live migration is now available. This means that a customer can move to the cloud while its IT infrastructure hums along normally, with no disruption. Based on the details of their partnership announcement, live migration is clearly a priority for Dell and Microsoft.         

Scripts are becoming obsolete. Scripts have a tendency to break down in large environments and do not scale well. This is especially troublesome given the growing number of applications and the fact that the data center is becoming more dynamic. Thanks to advances in hybrid automation, a dependence upon scripts to move app environments to the cloud is no longer a critical requirement in many cases.

Replication and deployment of apps are more holistic. In the past, migrating dynamic app environments was a piecemeal process, and thus difficult and slow; individual apps had to be replicated and deployed server by server. The old piecemeal method is like dissembling a car at the dealer: shipping the parts home one by one, then reassembling them, rather than just driving from the lot to your garage. Due to breakthroughs in hybrid cloud automation, this is no longer the case.

Physical and mixed workload environments are more seamless than ever. VMware has spent a lot of time and money to break down layers between the physical and mixed workload environments in the traditional data center. Hosting companies (especially AWS) have made efforts to further simplify discovery, blueprinting and provisioning in private clouds by making it easy to move workloads between clouds. Today, software has evolved to support an equivalent level of automation with physical and mixed workload environments.

CIFS and NFS standards are more common. In the past, many migration tools did not support the Common Internet File System (CIFS) and Network File System (NFS) data standards. This caused major issues such as synchronization problems when migrating apps that used these standards to the cloud. These standards, however, are now supported by some migration solutions.

To keep executing a successful IT strategy, you have to be willing to keep an open mind and not stubbornly stay the course just because that's the way something has always been done. We are constantly being flooded by new buzz terms -- from software defined to big data -- so it’s understandable that many are wary when they hear about the next big thing. But while buzz can mislead in tech, so too can obstinacy. The hybrid cloud is a game changer for organizations of all sizes, and IT teams will soon find themselves at a competitive disadvantage if they resist it simply because of outdated and unfounded concerns.