Hybrid Clouds on the Horizon
When most of us think about Cloud Computing we envision fully automated systems, colocation, and perhaps an absence of on-site resources. The reality is that businesses aren’t simply jumping in head first with a definitive cloud solution; they’re working their way up to it by first implementing hybrid clouds.
But let’s back up for a second; you’re probably wondering what defines a hybrid cloud, right? Simply put, a hybrid cloud is a juxtaposition of on-site and remotely-located IT resources. In other words, if an IT department decides to supplement their assets with some additional singular cloud services, they just implemented a hybrid cloud. Likewise, if an organization is primarily all cloud and begin accumulating on-site resources for back-up purposes, they too are implementing a hybrid solution (although this might be considered a somewhat backward approach).
In short, Hybrid clouds make sense – both logistically and economically. The truth is that setting up private clouds can be somewhat expensive at first (due to setup costs and/or hardware purchases, etc…). Furthermore, most of the businesses that end up instituting a hybrid cloud solution tend to be transitioning out of a traditional IT setup and into a more refined and powerful cloud computing infrastructure. This usually means that these institutions are new to the cloud as well; perhaps they’ve only dabbled with SaaS and standalone apps/services.
Naturally, transitioning to the cloud is a major undertaking and it’s something that’s also seen as being slightly risky. The risks don’t stem from instabilities or shortfalls in terms of cloud technology however; the biggest threat comes from trying to seamlessly move vital “enterprise-specific” assets from one place into the cloud. If a businesses has a specific set of resources which they depend on for daily functionality trying to quickly and fully transition into cloud computing could leave them open to experience one of several problems. Hybrid clouds offer an excellent way to hedge against any perceived risks as well as a means of transitioning into cloud computing slowly, one component at a time if necessary.
Here’s how it usually starts: A company is trotting along just fine, they’re running their daily operations and have a great in-house IT setup that takes care of business. Then, something happens; they start to run out of storage space or begin to experience shortfalls in some capacity or another. This of course leads the IT heads to offer up the idea of adding cloud services to make up for the differences. Pretty soon the organization is using one or more (bundled or separate) cloud services in tandem with their on-site IT capabilities.
The continued proliferation of hybrid cloud computing is more-or-less a direct response to the increasing availability of affordable, constructive cloud services as well as shrinking data centers. It’s actually not that data centers are “shrinking”, so much as they’re not able to keep up in terms of technological development and/or available resources.
At the same time, BIG data is becoming a central focus in IT, which means that IT departments have to greatly expand to simply keep up with the pace that information is accumulating. In other words, outside demands are expanding while the company is perhaps becoming too big for its IT department to handle effectively (using only the assets that are available). The only two available options for a situation such as this are to develop a cloud computing program or purchase additional hardware (at great cost). Given that everyone is being affected by the economic downturn, most businesses are opting for the cloud solution; not only because it’s the most affordable, but also due to the fact it offers a massive jump forward in terms of technological ability.
Expect to see more hybrid clouds on the horizon. While there are certainly forces which are adamantly pushing businesses toward adopting cloud computing (in whatever capacity), it will probably come down to stability and cost-effectiveness at the end of the day. In other words, most businesses will opt for implementing a hybrid cloud solution, but might only relegate non-essential components to it. Anything that’s considered to be too risky, legacy software or critical will be deployed on-site. This type of segregated approach to IT is becoming increasingly commonplace and is helping to plug a larger number of organizations into cloud. In this way, hybrid cloud computing is perhaps acting as a transitory step toward a more fully realized approach.