7 simple truths you should know about the hybrid cloud

The journey to the cloud is all about managing multiple environments, which is what 'hybrid' really means

By Gavin McShera
Nov. 28, 2016

I'm about to tell you something that may shatter what you think about the cloud: The hybrid cloud does not exist.

The enterprise cloud adoption manual puts hybrid cloud at the top of the list. But you cannot buy one off the shelf. It’s not one-size-fits-all.

Rather, the hybrid cloud is made up of models, processes, and multiple providers. The moment you start paying for a public cloud service, no matter how small or simple the service might be, you are in a hybrid cloud model. Ignore the textbook definitions: The “hybrid cloud” simply means you’re delivering IT services that use more than one hosting model.

What determines the success of your delivery model? It’s the rules and processes you put in place for adopting new services from cloud providers. Here’s what you need to know about the hybrid cloud.

1. It doesn’t matter how well you manage your own datacenter

No matter how good you are at managing your own datacenter, public cloud vendors do it better. Economies of scale change everything. Cost models, access to staff, and resources ascend to hyperscale at AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Moreover, the gap between what you can do and what public cloud vendors offer will only get bigger over time.

In other words, this is not a competition you can win. But imagine the benefits for your business if you didn't have to manage infrastructure at scale and could focus entirely on business processes, data, and analysis. No, you probably won’t retire your datacenter anytime soon. But the hybrid cloud provides means to offload infrastructure management as you see fit over time.

2. The hybrid cloud will mean multiple providers

If you look at the recent VMware and AWS partnership announcement, you would be forgiven for thinking that hybrid cloud is about extending your current infrastructure. Hybrid cloud is much more than a dual-vendor approach to datacenter hosting. Having multiple providers has less to do with all-eggs-in-one-basket and more to do with finding the right solutions and providers for specific workloads.

3. Application lifecycles drive hybrid cloud adoption

You cannot force yourself into a hybrid cloud position. Everything depends on the lifecycle of your line-of-business applications (new and old). If you are upgrading, replacing, or re-implementing applications or services, chances are you will find a viable cloud solution. It’s all about timing. If you completed a version/step change a few years ago, then it’s unlikely the business case will justify a move to the cloud. Sunk costs will keep you anchored in your datacenter. This is especially relevant for off-the-shelf solutions. The mainstream vendors are starting to offer SaaS versions of CRM, ERP, HR, and so on, but it’s very difficult to lift and shift older architecture and software.

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