The hybrid cloud seems to be what everyone wants to get to. End users seem to like the idea of using a public cloud, like Amazon Web Services for its large scale and low-cost. But they're not willing to put everything up in AWS's cloud, so there are on-premises clouds for mission-critical and extra secure information.
Vendors are jumping into the hybrid cloud game too: One of Microsoft's biggest marketing points over AWS is that it has software that customers can run on their own servers — Windows Systems Center — to build a private cloud that connects to its Azure public cloud to build a hybrid cloud. VMware launched a service with the name hybrid in it — vCloud Hybrid Service — in the past year.
But Gartner Vice President and distinguished analyst Lydia Leong says it's not common to see customers "bursting" between public and private clouds, which is what many consider to be a hybrid cloud. Most customers have workloads they run in the public cloud, and maybe some they run on their own existing infrastructure.
And so there's been somewhat of a misconception created in the market: Some customers generally believe that hybrid cloud is about bursting between public and private clouds. Yet not many users really do that.
Leong says hybrid cloud management is not about bursting, instead customers should think about supporting two basic IT environments today: an old one and a new one, what she calls "bi-modal' management. The old environment is typically a company's system of record that is heavily customized to the organization's specific use case and serves a core function for the business. The new IT environment is where the company pursues leading edge projects; applications and software are developed rapidly, with fast iterations and quick launches. And IT has a challenge: "You don't want your old stuff to slow down your new stuff," Leong says. "If you try to blend those two you'll end up doing neither one well."
The pursuit of hybrid
Despite the challenge of managing these two environments, organizations are still going full bore ahead on hybrid cloud, whether they know it or not. New figures from New Hampshire-based analyst Technology Business Research show that nearly 20% of the 1,600 large enterprises IT decision makers recently surveyed reported that they are using two or more cloud services that have been integrated to create a hybrid cloud. TBR estimates there is a $7 billion market for vendors who integrate various disparate cloud platforms together.
The important decision for IT leaders is to consider how fast do they want to embrace these "new" technologies, like hybrid clouds, while still supporting the old legacy ones. IT organizations are faced with this dilemma of needing to own and operate critical legacy infrastructure into the foreseeable future, while at the same time building a brand new org and process structure around cloud based environments, says Mark Thiele, executive vice president of data center technology at Switch, a major cloud and collocation hosting provider. "This 'two IT' system will be necessary because in order for either of the environments to be truly successful they would have to be managed very differently from each other," Thiele says.
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