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Most large enterprises understand the value of the cloud. But of course, there are major challenges in making the transition because of the costs and risks of ripping out legacy systems. This is why the hybrid cloud is becoming important.
“There is a classic definition of hybrid cloud, and a few that are market evolved,” said David Linthicum, who is the Chief Cloud Strategy Officer at Deloitte Consulting LLP. “The classic definition, as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is a paired private (exists on premises) and public cloud. An organization is able to run applications on either the private or public side, or in some cases even run a single application on both private and public clouds. The market evolved definition of hybrid cloud, on the other hand, is a bit more loosely defined. Those hybrid clouds, while still leveraging a public cloud, are different types of systems that exist on premises, such as mainframes, traditional servers, etc. They function like a hybrid cloud in that they can leverage either the on-premises systems, the public cloud systems, or both in support of application and database processing. This often goes by other names, such as hybrid IT. I call it pragmatic hybrid clouds.”
Yet there are inherent problems with the hybrid cloud. The fact is that there is much heavy lifting with integration, which has its own risks. The costs are usually higher and there is less agility as well fewer functions and features when compared to the pure cloud.
Then there are the issues of having enough people with the right technical skills. “This is the biggest issue,” said Umesh Padval, who is a Venture Partner at Thomvest Ventures. “Enterprises need to use consulting services initially as well as professional services from the vendors providing hybrid solutions while developing their own expertise over time.”
Regardless, many large enterprises have little choice but to focus on building a hybrid cloud. “Hybrid landscapes are a fact of life for virtually all companies that still have their own datacenters that run critical and core-to-the-business applications,” said Dan Lahl, who is the Global Vice President for SAP Product Marketing. “They have a significant on-premises investment, but see significant advantages in new capabilities that are available in the cloud. The absolute wrong question a CEO should ask his CIO is this: ‘How fast are we moving to the cloud?’ The right question is this: ‘Are there business applications that will benefit our company and our customers with new innovations if we ran them in the cloud?’ For some applications, the answer today is yes, for some the answer today is no. Over the next few years, we see continued growth in software solutions that bridge from the private datacenter to the cloud, e.g., hybrid environments. Eventually, those datacenters will decline so that we no longer see hybrid landscapes, but even as applications move to the cloud, the need to integrate those applications in order to deliver new business value will continue to grow.”
Thus, to be successful, there will need to be some major investments in core infrastructure. That is, getting traction will take time and patience.
“The first thing to look at when running a hybrid environment is your operations,” said Avishai Sharlin, who is a Division President at Amdocs Technology. “Consider looking in to ‘lift and shift’ opportunities and where you can ‘containerize’ apps. Organizations should try and make their life simple by trying to adapt existing applications to run within containers. Next, consider how you plan to scale your apps. Are you going to use Kubernetes in a standard way, or do you need other methods and techniques? Your approach may determine the best way forward while also setting expectations for changes in development directions and tooling costs. As part of a holistic end-to-end hybrid design and architecture, there are additional aspects to look into, including security and interoperability. These topics will determine the way your organization moves forward and its speed and agility.”
Tom (@ttaulli) is an advisor/board member to startups and the author of Artificial Intelligence Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction, The Robotic Process Automation Handbook: A Guide to Implementing RPA Systems and Implementing AI Systems: Transform Your Business in 6 Steps. He also has developed various online courses, such as for the COBOL and Python programming languages.