For the enterprise cloud, the future is hybrid

Attention CIOs – the hybrid cloud is enterprise ready. In fact, according to a GigaOM article, the hybrid cloud has been enterprise ready for the past couple of years, and that in 2011, the majority of participants in a cloud-use survey anticipated moving to the hybrid cloud in the future.

The future is here.

To prove that enterprise is using a hybrid cloud infrastructure, consider this. According to a Rackspace blog post, more than 50 percent of cloud buyers are planning hybrid deployments to take advantage of cloud efficiencies and satisfy security and compliance needs.

“It truly delivers the best of both worlds: the elasticity, scalability and agility that the public cloud brings, but also the control, visibility and security that the private cloud offers,” said Larry Lang, CEO of Quorum. “In addition, it offers the ability for enterprises to pay only for what they need, adding to its cache.”

However, Tim Aranki with Pariveda Solutions believes that enterprise’s expectations placed on a hybrid cloud have a lot to do with whether or not the technology’s adoption.

“I have often heard the expectation that a hybrid cloud will allow for dynamic workloads to move seamlessly between a private cloud on-premises to a public hosted cloud,” Aranki said. “The truth is, we are not to that level of capability yet with most public cloud providers. In that sense, it does not quite live up to the promise. Bursting workloads into the cloud for local systems sounds like a good solution, but in practice is much more difficult to implement and manage.”

There are, however, very successful strategies for leveraging a hybrid cloud, he added. One example is minimizing capital investments in hardware refreshes by moving tier 2 or tier 3 workloads to a hybrid cloud, where the ROI can prove to be significant based on the resources those systems consume. 

Another example is the creation of new customer facing applications that can take advantage of elastic auto-scaling in the public cloud to serve requests, but connect to on-premises resources for caching data to serve the requests. A third example would be providing internal IT development groups with the ability to quickly create environments for development, testing, or doing a proof of concept. This can have significant impact on how businesses optimize line of business applications or innovate beyond competitors at a higher velocity. 

“I believe the hybrid cloud is a natural evolution of the managed datacenter,” said Aranki. “The private datacenter is not going away anytime soon, but the ability, and need, to grow IT assets every year without continual infrastructure investments is critical. Beyond infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings continue to grow at many cloud providers."

One thing that makes the hybrid cloud attractive to enterprise is the low-cost and relatively simple management of cloud assets provides flexibility while maintaining connectivity to on-premises systems without significant capital investment.

The hybrid cloud is not only the present; it remains the hot cloud option for the foreseeable future. “Flexibility is the mark of a technology that will prevail in the years to come, and it defines the hybrid cloud,” said Lang. “Its ‘best of both worlds’ draw makes it attractive to enterprises that don't want to or can't commit to the expense, complexity or security concerns presented by the public and private clouds.”

The hybrid cloud is where we'll see enterprises gain the most benefit from cloud computing. The flexibility, portability, choice and the ability to pay only for what is needed are foremost among those benefits, and, therefore, very attractive to today's enterprises.

Sue Poremba is a freelance writer focusing primarily on security and technology issues and occasionally blogs for cloud service provider Rackspace Hosting.

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