Moving towards hybrid clouds

Are we finally ready to utilise hybrid clouds to deliver new generation business applications?

A few years back, I found that the majority of ICT spend goes into operational support and upgrades of existing systems. A small percentage of budgets was being spent on new features to give business a competitive advantage or to keep users enthused about using the systems.

Then came, the Global Financial Crisis, everyone needed to reduce operational budgets and new capital projects were put on hold. Virtualisation, was used to reduce costs through consolidation of many physical servers onto fewer later model servers. Some new features may have been delivered to business users, if the vendor applications were upgraded, during the course of the migration. In some cases, some pre-existing approved custom built applications may have been delivered.

Cloud Computing has also exploded onto the scene, with various different models and a new set of acronyms. The main provider models of different cloud computing scenarios, are defined such:
* Private Cloud – virtualised infrastructure deployed on-premise in an organisations data center;
* Public Cloud – shared infrastructure utilising off-premise datacenters with commodity servers. Significant cost savings associated with cooling, electricity, physical security and commodity CPU and storage;
* Community Cloud – a number of organisations combining together to utilise shared infrastructure but not generally available as an offering to the public; and
* Hybrid Cloud – a virtual cloud that utilises a private cloud, that is supplemented with a public cloud as required. 

Now I left the term Hybrid Cloud to the end, as many organisations are concerned about moving their workloads to a Public Cloud. The associated risks, use cases and business case is unknown for them, as for many it is unchartered territory. A Hybrid Cloud appears to be a natural stepping stone, as they can experiment and learn and move workloads both ways between public and private clouds (yes, can be done now without downtime). 

One of the key drivers in a business, for utilising a Hybrid Cloud, is to reduce operational costs:
* cost for new infrastructure;
* cost of provisioning;
* cost of infrastructure refreshes; and
* cost of business not realising potential to use new features/applications.

When the business asks you to reduce costs again, are you ready? Is a Hybrid cloud part of that strategy? If not, why not? As an internal ICT department, you will not be able to compete on costs with a Public Cloud provider. So the technology is there, the communications are there, but is the willingness there from your ICT Department? 


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