Cloud computing is ubiquitous, but the journey to true hybrid cloud nirvana (and return on investment) can be long. Many businesses may be using a combination of services and infrastructure that may look like a hybrid cloud, but in reality is not. A true hybrid cloud is a structured blend of shared and dedicated resources that address client requirements utilizing a unified orchestration and delivery architecture.
Most businesses are neither fully on-premise nor in the cloud. In fact, many are just dabbling in cloud services. Because of this neither-black-nor-white infrastructure, it may appear that a company has a hybrid cloud environment. Yet, what is missing from this equation is a defined end state for the hybrid cloud.
CIOs must map out their journey -- or cloud strategy -- based on today’s infrastructure and where it needs to be in the future. IT decision makers who effectively strategize cloud usage have the smoothest journey and will avoid many potholes related to performance, security, availability, and cost.
The common cloud route
A typical company starts its cloud journey by slowly moving non-core and commodity services to an off-premise public cloud or cloud software service. This shift will be accompanied by virtualization of its traditional hardware infrastructure for greater efficiency that will be hosted either on-premise or at a data center provider.
Slowly, as the benefits of cloud services become apparent to business units, the company will begin to put more applications into multi-tenant cloud services. While business units will be empowered by the capability to procure their own services and will introduce additional public cloud usage, unfortunately this will also introduce sprawl across multiple providers. Eventually, IT will become aware of its lack of control and rectify this issue with the implementation of a formal cloud strategy. This plan usually starts with the implementation of a private cloud deployment augmented with public cloud service consumption.
Since this is a slow and somewhat arduous journey, it may take years before an enterprise has a true hybrid cloud and fully realizes the benefits of a mature IT service that is aligned with business objectives. Practical experience gained through working with customers has shown that a firm averages at least 18 months before cloud nirvana is reached as it grapples with the application, organizational and technology changes that cloud introduces.
Avoiding the potholes
Most businesses traveling to the hybrid cloud are at a private cloud rest stop and are deciding whether to journey on with a service provider or continue with their own on-premise or hosted private cloud. CIOs want to avoid potholes as they advance their company’s use of cloud services and are closely examining several issues, including:
- Cost: What is the total cost of ownership for on-premise vs. off-site hosted environments and what kind of consumption models suit the organizational processes?
- Security: How secure is the cloud? Who can access the data and applications and what internal procedures need to be put in place to maintain governance, risk and compliance policies?
- Performance: Will response time be the same for an off-site private cloud as an on-premise environment and can the infrastructure be tuned to meet application requirements?
- Availability: What is the SLA guarantee of availability? What disaster recovery procedures are in place?
CIOs must have a clear strategy in order to fully realize the benefits of a hybrid cloud environment. By carefully planning out their firm’s journey, discouraging rogue IT deployments, and avoiding unnecessary complications, they can achieve a greater return on investment. The vision of a true hybrid cloud is clearly on the horizon, and IT service providers have begun to bring solutions to market to provide this. The culmination of these services and a defined IT strategy will surely drive the true hybrid cloud model to fruition.