Hybrid clouds: From reluctant acceptance to strategic imperative

It's been well over a year that Forrester's James Staten (@staten7) has been gently orating from the rooftops that "you are already hybrid." 

In his foresight, he was referring to the broad existence of so-called shadow-IT, the tendency of competent non-IT folk to pull out their credit cards and purchase public cloud services and SaaS services, thereby solving their own problems.

This week, a spate of articles from Forbes, WSJ (requires login) and elsewhere are telling the tale of a far more intentional approach to hybrid cloud.

This acceptance that certain workloads, for logistical, financial, or pragmatic reasons, are best housed locally - and that others, due to spikiness (technical term) or proximity to endpoint or resource profile, are best deployed to a service provider.

Infact, the Forbes article cites different tiers of an application potentially residing at different places.

There are a few implications of this current discussion worth calling out:

a) Inherent in this approach is the acceptance of IT departments of the role of public cloud in their footprint. 12-18 months ago, I would argue this was far from universal. Public clouds were often mistrusted - so this is a huge cultural shift forward.

b) The complexity of this architecture necessarily requires a hybrid cloud management solution, lest IT administrators become the unwitting and overworked keepers of the registry of services. Even then, communicating that information across all departments who would require it - operations, audit, security, etc. - would be a formidable and painstaking task.

c) Increasingly, the logic by which services are deployed here or there is being congealed into policy - so provisioning technologies should be enabled to facilitate those decisions automatically, without requiring manual intervention.

All of this speaks to the breadth of requirements associated with a cloud management platform today, which are far more interesting than the VM-Xerox-machine of recent years.

If these are the needs of a professional grade cloud, CIOs shopping for their cloud solution will grow more discerning with time. And rightfully so.

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