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This is what the new hybrid cloud looks like

Brandon Butler | July 9, 2014
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.

That creates somewhat of a schism between an enterprise's legacy IT and new ventures involving cloud and devops, says Bernard Golden, a frequent speaker on cloud issues at various conferences. He says the key to managing this environment is for customers to retain flexibility and choice to decide where those new applications are hosted — either on their own premises or in the cloud. "Customers don't want to be constrained," he says. "They want it to be their choice and not their vendor calling the shots."

Golden says there is an evolution in the hybrid cloud market right now. It's not just about companies like Microsoft, VMware and IBM, which extoll their ability to manage old and new IT, but there are a variety of companies that provide integration services amongst many clouds. Companies like Enstratius — where Golden used to work — which is now Dell Cloud Manager and RightScale do this. Golden currently serves as vice president of Strategy for ActiveState, the maker of a platform as a service (PaaS) for application development, which allows organizations to build an application and then deploy it to various end-points.

So while Leong says that few customers are pursuing a hybrid cloud "bursting" model, other cloud experts say that hybrid cloud is very much real and in the market. Joe Weinman, author of the book "Cloudonomics," says there are many other types of hybrid cloud setups that are prevalent in the market other than just bursting between public and private clouds (see graphic, above). Technology is evolving to make hybrid cloud bursting a reality over time, although there are likely limited use cases for that architecture. "In the meantime there are plenty of other types of hybrid clouds one can envision," Weinman says. "CIOs need to deal with heterogeneous environments, and that's somewhat of a challenge."

We've seen this before

Managing this new model of IT is a challenge for CIOs and IT leaders. The drastic differences between these old systems and new processes mean that there are not many great platforms for managing an organization's entire IT asset portfolio. Companies like IBM, BMC, HP and CA Technologies offer services across the spectrum of IT management, from legacy workloads all the way to cloud management. But these two environments require vastly different skills and management tools. The good news is, Leong says, over time more and more workloads will migrate from the old to the new model.

This idea of IT needing to manage heterogeneous environments really isn't a new concept either. For a long time CIOs have been managing multiple modes within an organization. There was the mainframe to client server transition; Unix to Linux. Now we're seeing a new wave of transitions: PCs to mobile devices and desktop applications to SaaS platforms. Organizations are integrating multiple hypervisor platforms and combining converged infrastructure with customized commodity hardware. While a new model of IT, focused around devops, cloud, mobile, social and big data is a big break from the old way of doing business, Leong it's part of a natural evolution of the IT industry.


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