Hybrid cloud analytics: Don’t be cloud-washed by the new term on the block

Drew Clarke is VP cloud at Qlik.

Not surprisingly, with all the momentum in hybrid cloud infrastructure, we’re starting to hear the term “hybrid cloud analytics” pop up in the modern business intelligence (BI) market. However, it’s a term that is being overused and misunderstood as those in the industry seek to align with the latest trend. We see the future value of hybrid cloud computing as helping to empower customers to embrace a cloud strategy of their own versus having it dictated to them by a vendor.

A hybrid cloud environment is defined by the customer. What do I mean by that? I mean that a hybrid cloud solution should not dictate where or which cloud the customer must use with their on-premise installation. Although this point should seem obvious, some large vendors in the space are ignoring this critical point, as they dictate choices based on their (lack of) capabilities.

There’s a lot of confusion about what is possible with hybrid cloud analytics so I will offer to clarify what hybrid is, and what it’s not. I will break down into three parts:

Cloud – a delivery mechanism, not a solution

I’m surprised by the number of market entrants that were born in the cloud, and use that as their core differentiation. Cloud computing is a delivery vehicle. Simple visualizations of data via the cloud are not going to drive business value. As the pioneer and leader in the modern BI market, we’ve learned that customers need both a broad and deep analytical approach to better visualise, explore and understand their data. This is important to become more

informed, gain new insights and make better decisions to derive real business value through analytics. Having a dumbed-down analytics solution that is delivered via the cloud is just going to keep you behind your competition. Having said that, we do see value in cloud delivery of world-class analytics, which many customers currently deploy on their own private clouds.

Hybrid – a hybrid approach to analytics just makes sense

Today, companies need a choice of deployment options, whether on-premise or in a private cloud leveraging the infrastructure of their choice. They get to choose where they want analytics to run.

However, the truth is that an either-or choice does not truly represent where the vast majority of customers are today in their IT investments, and where they plan to be over time. Most customers that we talk to have both data and applications that run on-premise, behind their firewall, as well as data and applications that both originate and run in the cloud. The world is not black and white; it has many shades of grey. That’s why a true hybrid approach is required to help support both where customers are today, as well as help them migrate more of their workloads off-premise over time as they so choose. A hybrid cloud approach to analytics is key to enabling a customers’ cloud strategy vs. dictating it. This is why the trend is pointing toward hybrid cloud analytics.

Hybrid cloud analytics: Full centralised control of all data, wherever it resides

The simple definition of hybrid cloud is a computing environment that uses a mix of on-premise, private cloud, and/or public cloud infrastructure to deliver services, with orchestration between the platforms. This could be hybrid cloud joins multiple clouds – or on-premise installations with cloud-based installations. Under that general definition, many vendors will claim “hybrid cloud analytics” in their marketing verbiage. Although being able to publish an analytical application (or sheet for some) from an on-premise installation to a cloud offering could be valuable, it is not hybrid cloud analytics.

Where the data resides in a true hybrid cloud analytics solution should not matter to the user who could access it from any device based on their role and security permissions. A properly governed solution allows you to define rules around where data and/or the analysis on that data can be stored or run – you can create enforcement rules on where things can and will reside based on the sensitivity and security of that dataset. It should be easy to manage user entitlements and licensing between the platforms. A hybrid cloud analytics solution must allow for bi-directional migration to/from one infrastructure environment to another and should be managed as one, seamless environment across infrastructure boundaries via a single console.

This is where the future of true hybrid cloud analytics is headed because these are the considerations IT leaders are taking to safeguard their data while gaining the flexibility and scalability for more self-service use of data in the cloud. 

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