Why hybrid clouds will continue to rise to the top of the enterprise agenda

Laurent Lachal, Senior Analyst, Ovum Software

Cloud service providers and consumers approach hybrid clouds from a public as well as a private cloud perspective. The objective for both is to run workloads where it makes the most sense at a technology and/or business level.

While hybrid clouds’ center of gravity will shift toward public clouds, it will do so quite slowly as enterprises increasingly mix and match the variety of hybrid cloud options available on the market, from connective to blended and accretive hybrid cloud. For more details see the 2014 Trends to Watch: From Private to Hybrid Clouds report that details not only hybrid clouds but also private cloud trends.

From public versus private to public and private

On the one hand, public cloud vendors offer a variety of hybrid options to meet various requirements in areas such are security or performance. On the other, private clouds were always supposed to be hybrid in the first place. While many see private clouds as a synonym for internal clouds, this is just a starting point, not the end game.

Private clouds are meant to become hybrid and reach out to public cloud services as cloud computing turns IT departments from IT service providers to IT service brokers. The key question is not “should I continue to invest in developing my in-house IT capabilities (private cloud) or should I move to public cloud services?” but “how do I weave internal and external, cloud and non-cloud, services together to deliver the right business outcome and user experience?”

Hybrid clouds’ center of gravity will slowly shift toward public clouds

In this context, hybrid clouds’ center of gravity seems to shift from private to public clouds. While there is a lot of anecdotal evidence illustrating this shift, it is much slower and more complicated than the anecdotes and those eager to build on them would like many to believe. The danger is to oversimplify, not only by wrongly looking at private and public clouds as opposites, but also by misunderstanding the increasingly complexity and continuing evolution of the hybrid middle.

Hybrid clouds will remain a multi-faceted, rapidly evolving, phenomenon

Hybrid clouds are usually defined as the integration of private clouds with public ones (connective hybrid cloud in Ovum parlance). Ovum (like many others) does so in surveys, for example. However, we do not believe it useful to limit hybrid clouds to such a narrow definition because, like cloud computing itself, the hybrid cloud phenomenon is multi-faceted and rapidly evolving.

In addition to connective hybrid cloud, Ovum distinguishes between blended and accretive hybrid clouds, with specific trends to keep an eye on in each of these categories.

Connective hybrid clouds support a variety of “bursting”, “integration”, and/or “transfer” use cases. Cloud bursting has yet to take off in any meaningful way, but on-premise applications are increasingly reaching out to off-premise ones. The reverse scenario is also gaining momentum as the hybrid cloud’s center of gravity shifts to public clouds.

In parallel, with the rise of cloud management platforms (CMPs), enterprises either repackage or rebuild VMs, increasingly in the context of whole applications rather than application components, to move them from private to public clouds, and vice versa. This scenario requires increasingly sophisticated VM/application portfolio management capabilities to figure out where to move what to achieve the required business outcome(s).

In addition to connecting private and public clouds, hybrid clouds also blend their characteristics, giving rise to shared private clouds, virtual private clouds, as well as shared virtual private clouds. Virtual private clouds, namely private clouds on top of a public one, have so far been the most successful blended hybrid option, so much so that they actually outnumber internal private clouds.

Many expected shared private clouds, also known as community clouds, to quickly take off as a midway option between fully private and fully public clouds, but this has yet to happen. The “hybrid of hybrid” notion of shared virtual private cloud has so far proved even less popular than that of shared private clouds. We expect it to take off, however, as shared private clouds gather momentum.

Over the years, large vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle have added to their original offerings to come up with combined (IaaS, PaaS, and/or SaaS) offerings that we define as accretive hybrid public clouds. We expect this trend to continue, with smaller vendors following suit, especially when it comes to adding PaaS to IaaS and SaaS. Cloud brokers, both internal and external to enterprises, are also increasing in number and combining IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS components.

Further reading

2014 Trends to Watch: From Private to Hybrid Clouds, IT022-000007 (March 2014)

2014 Trends to Watch: Public Clouds, IT022-000008, (March 2014)

2014 Trends to Watch: Cloud Computing, IT022-000006 (February 2014)

2014 Trends to Watch: Cloud Services, IT019-003310 (January 2014)

Methodology

  • Vendor events and analyst briefings.
  • Vendor meetings and technology assessments.
  • Interviews with end users.
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