This article was originally published on Technology.Info.
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. It’s been the word at the core of a deluge of product announcements from big IT vendors this year, but what does it mean, and how does it fit into the panoply of cloud terminology, much of which nobody really understands.
I like being an early adopter,
started delivering enterprise Hybrid Cloud systems back in 2007, and so for us hybrid is an obvious choice, because in reality it’s describing howcompaniesalready consume IT. All companies have multiple vendor relationships, and do some things in house and others with an external supplier, that’s hybrid in a nutshell.
Why is Hybrid Cloud exciting right now?
So why is it so exciting, and why have there been hybrid announcements from every major vendor over the last few months? I think it’s the promise of hybrid that is exciting, while the definition above does describe what companies do today it can also apply equally well to a future that is coming fast.
Hybrid is not a technology like Private Cloud, it’s a description of a pragmatic approach to using technology. And that for me makes it the single biggest shift in technology since the World Wide Web. You see, most technology revolutions say “It’s The Next Big Thing” and analysts feverishly suggest everyone will be doing it implausibly soon, but as with ASP, Greenwash, public cloud, etc. etc. they don’t. Hybrid says; “Keep doing what you are doing if it suits you”.
Fewer long term cloud service relationships
The future is one in which you have far fewer long term service relationships. You still have suppliers, and you may commit to spending money with them, but you don’t commit to services or spend beyond the horizon which you can actually see (and very, very often you can’t actually see accurately 12 months into the future, let alone 3 or 5 years). Technology has to be seen instead as a pure enabler, something that is used as a tool to drive business value.
Hybrid is perfect for that paradigm. Email and file stores on premise or in the cloud; compliance affected workloads in environments which minimise your own need to spend money on compliance while exceeding the requirements put upon you by regulation; transient workloads using pure public cloud on a consumption model, perhaps even following the sun if your organisation is a multi-national.
What does good hybrid look like?
So if hybrid is a Good Thing™, then what is good hybrid? It is open, flexible, easy to use computing. Everything goes. You shouldn’t need to choose to tie your organisation to using a particular hypervisor, particular OS, particular development language, instead you should use them all tactically. Remember, a good hybrid solution should enable and should let business requirements determine technology direction.
Hybrid then is a mix of services delivered in house and by suppliers, and you are already doing hybrid. Your mix could be all on premise, but I’ll bet there is a dev somewhere with some AWS or a bit of Dropbox, and I’ll bet you have some hosting, even if it’s a pizza box with a local co-lo provider.
What you need to begin to do is develop a hybrid strategy, and that is about procurement, not technology. Your strategy should control how you buy technology, and who buys it, by relating that spend directly to defined outcomes, for example: “Moving my load testing to a cloud based service will remove my long term spend commitments and drive down unit costs for each test”. Those outcomes should be delivering against a business requirement. “Our core application must be available to everyone all the time, but we want to reduce cost” and it may need to recognise contributing business challenges like “the weekly peak of users is 5 times our BAU load”. What it should never be is “I’ve seen this new load testing technology which looks pretty cool, I think we should look at it”.
Orchestration key to realising the power of a good hybrid strategy
One of the things that is going to help you to realise the power of a good hybrid strategy is orchestration, something that lets you control all your systems centrally, and adopting that will undoubtedly allow you to maximise the effectiveness of your Hybrid mix. That orchestration is at the heart of the big vendor announcements mentioned earlier. Orchestration tooling is being provided as a means of tying you to vendor stacks because it makes it easy to consume services and easy to integrate the right vendors technology. There is plenty of Open Source tooling available too.
Determining the role orchestration is going to pay in your hybrid strategy should be a key plank of the strategy itself. Get it wrong - as M&S did in close coupling their ecommerce business to Amazon - and you will be looking at a very large cost of change.
So; Hybrid is good, you are doing it already, but you need a strategy, and that strategy should replace the three-to-five year IT strategy you currently have. Effective orchestration, smart procurement and a good and well implemented strategy will mean you are no longer having to shape your business decisions around the limitations placed upon you by your IT, but instead having technology that responds, without limitations, to the business requirements your company has.
This opinion piece forms part of the Technology.Info chapter on Building the Hybrid Cloud