With the benefits of cloud undeniable, enterprises are moving more aggressively toward growing cloud investments. Many startups and SMBs have had the benefit of beginning their IT journey in the cloud era, making adoption of new cloud technologies a standard part of their long-term IT strategy. However, the cloud journey for an enterprise opens up an array of issues – from re-architecting existing applications to protecting massive stores of sensitive data, while maintaining compliance and security mandates.
The cloud is a different IT model that comes with incredible opportunity along with new threats and limitations. While the benefits of public cloud have been proven for certain workloads and use cases (i.e. startups, test & development, handling burst traffic, etc), there is growing acknowledgement of its tradeoffs in areas like performance, customization and security. Therefore, it isn’t realistic to expect that the future is all-cloud, for all applications.
The fundamental problem is that organizations betting on a cloud-only strategy are starting with a specific technology as the answer for every problem. It is like the old adage ‘for someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail’. While most organizations are likely to have nails, some have screws.
Applications and workloads have different and often complex demands. Hybrid cloud is meeting the need for cloud-powered enterprise architectures that can satisfy the need for speed and performance without sacrificing security or control.
After finding success with workloads like test & development environments, websites and collaboration, enterprises are eager to adopt a service provider mentality and take advantage of the benefits of cloud across more workloads.
In the zeal to push to the cloud, some organizations are finding that not every use case is right for public cloud. The idea of becoming an all-public cloud shop, while an attractive theory, is simply unrealistic for many multi-faceted enterprise IT configurations. Adding in cloud elements may provide isolated benefits for certain apps or workloads, but can also create security issues, overly complex architectures and higher total cost for other workloads if improperly architected.
Hybrid cloud offers a more holistic approach where public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers (including virtualization) are combined, working together as one platform to minimize tradeoffs and get the maximum value and effectiveness of each component of a workload. In the hybrid paradigm, systems live where they make the most sense – on-premise or hosted, running on bare metal or virtualized, in dedicated or cloud. Enterprises have different sets of requirements for different types of applications, and hybrid cloud solutions offer the flexibility to meet these needs.
For mission-critical applications, including line-of-business and proprietary applications, governance and security requirements may point to the need for dedicated hosting. Usage associated with promotional events and campaigns, or any application that experiences highly variable traffic and usage patterns, may be better suited to scalable cloud solutions. The nature of some applications and the licensing model might also result in different benefits of vertical versus horizontal scaling.
Most applications evolve over time. The application itself evolves, the business and/or the business requirements change, the scale and complexity might change. With a hybrid cloud, businesses have the ability to switch between dedicated resources, to choose public or private cloud services, or use several simultaneously as the needs of the application change.
Technology is evolving at a pace that makes it difficult to predict the future. Most people would not have predicted the impact of cloud computing five years ago. It is impossible to predict with precision how technology platforms will evolve in the next five years. Rather than making a commitment to just one model for the long term, hybrid cloud gives businesses access to multiple platforms, and the peace of mind that these platforms can meet the business needs of tomorrow.
Hybrid enables businesses to find the right combination of cloud and existing resources to do the job. “Hybrid is the end-state. A lot of people say ‘the end state is cloud’ I don’t buy that at all... It is about creating the right architecture to support the application and the evolution of the application over time,” says James Staten, Forrester VP & Principal Analyst2. Mixing and matching infrastructure components allows enterprises to create a cloud strategy around their unique needs instead of building around the components of a single provider or platform. How does hybrid cloud computing serve enterprise IT strategy?
Rackspace, the leader in hybrid cloud and the co-founder of OpenStack, started on a journey to hybrid cloud in 2009. For years, customers have enjoyed unique technologies like RackConnect®, our unique technology that securely connects dedicated hosted IT infrastructure or hosted OpenStack private clouds to Rackspace public clouds on an internal local network centrally managed with the MyRackspace© customer portal.
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