Making hybrid work

Cloud computing is having a big impact on enterprise IT. A research that Vanson Bourne conducted on behalf of Nutanix among 2,300 companies around the world showed that over a third (36%) of enterprise workloads are already up and running in the cloud. And the majority of the respondents is expecting this figure to rise rapidly, to over half of all workloads by the year 2020.

In fact, companies are increasingly looking to deploy apps across a mixture of private and public clouds. 18 per cent are already mixing clouds and that number is expected to more than double in the next two years. This will make the hybrid cloud approach the most popular way of implementing IT by that time.

Hybrid makes the most sense

This move to a mixture of clouds isn’t a real surprise. In essence, companies are not only switching because of the benefits of the public cloud – like on-demand scalability and pay per use – they are also learning that not all clouds are the same. And putting all your (application) eggs in one basket could work against you. It seems that the old traps of vendor and platform lock-in, are still there for those that are incautious. That’s why many are now taking a much more application-centric approach to IT. That means choosing the best residence for each app – be that a public or private cloud – instead of standardising on just one and having to make your apps fit.

But, the fear of a vendor lock-in is not the only reason why a growing number of organizations want to spread workloads across clouds. Many would also like to be able to move workloads between clouds for both technical and financial reasons. That’s why the study of Vanson Bourne also showed that app mobility is ranked well above cost and security concerns.

How to make hybrid work

Unfortunately, the free movement of apps isn’t a reality at this point. Not least because, as already mentioned, not all clouds are the same. And we’re seeing that the lack of (cloud-)skilled IT staff is also in the way of turning this aspiration into a reality. While technologies such as containers, microservices and APIs are helping to make apps more portable, organizations are lacking deployment, monitoring and management capabilities.

Yes, there are tools and technologies being developed to fix this, but not as fast as many would like. Also, those that are available tend to be proprietary and not all are able to extend beyond the boundaries of specific cloud platforms and products.

This results in a real lack of visibility when apps are deployed across a mix of clouds. And when you add traditional on-premises infrastructure to this mix, it becomes even harder to see what’s going on in terms of availability, performance, security and compliance.

Simply put, what you can’t see, you can’t manage or fix when things go wrong. And if you can’t see into different clouds, it also becomes much harder to guarantee compliance or availability, let alone automate processes between them.

What do we need?

Promising technologies and solutions are being developed to deliver this much needed visibility across clouds, but these three capabilities should certainly be included:

  1. Analytical tools that understand the technical, governance and financial implications of public clouds so that IT teams can select the best cloud for their apps. Tools that can also tell managers what they’ve invested in, where they are and how they’re performing. And that can orchestrate migration to a different cloud based on the needs of the business.
  2. Cloud-based disaster recovery (DR) services to protect critical business applications and data. DR across clouds is difficult to deliver. However, if done right, it has the potential to solve most availability issues.
  3. Cross-cloud networking tools and technologies that can manage connectivity between applications across different vendor clouds and services. And are able to identify bottlenecks and potential vulnerabilities and initiate remedial action.

There is still a lot to be done and developed in the field of hybrid cloud management tools, and it will require a lot more cooperation between cloud vendors and service providers than we’re seeing now. However, it’s in everyone’s best interests that we work together and make hybrid work!

Read more