Hybrid cloud computing — the future of IT?

There’s been quite a bit of industry talk recently about the increasing adoption of cloud computing, with particular attention directed at the way in which organisations are making their move into cloud. Importantly, the talk is backed up with numbers.

One trend that has been identified and picked up by a number of commentators is the move towards a hybrid cloud model — a strategic split between on the one hand, hosting data and applications in a private (usually on-premise) environment, and on the other, procuring public cloud resources to look after other compute workloads.

The facts, the figures and the projections

Based on the input of 250 senior IT and business decision makers (responding in Q3 of 2013) a significant piece of research carried out by the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) reports that while 69% of organisations have adopted a cloud based service, the majority (86%) still operate an on-premise server room or data centre.

This high level of on-site computing could of course simply be due to the continuing use of legacy systems (which may decline over time) and while 78% of respondents sought to investigate the possibility of cloud deployment for new projects, it is telling that only 12% of organisations believed that an “exclusively cloud” deployment strategy is possible today. Indeed, at the moment, 50% of those asked said they couldn’t envisage one day moving absolutely everything to the cloud.

Cloud is now though, as Eric Schmidt of Google recently proposed in his blog piece grandly entitled “The rebirth of IT“, no longer “a questionable proposition — it’s inevitable”. He continues:

“This is good news for IT staff, who don’t need to spend time maintaining servers and installing upgrades, and also for employees, since the cloud makes it easy to collaborate and get more stuff done quickly. Sooner than almost anyone thought possible, hundreds of large-scale companies have succeeded in moving their businesses to the cloud, paving the way for millions more to follow.”

Why hybrid?

So, with momentum growing for cloud, why does the hybrid model appear to be emerging (as many predicted) as the strategy of choice?

Rebecca Merrett, writing for CIO on research conducted by Gartner sums it up well, commenting that: “instead of battling with public and private cloud trade-offs, more organisations are turning to a hybrid cloud model”. We’d agree: the hybrid model offers organisations an attractive route into cloud that allows them to get the best of both worlds.

Gradual migration — or evolution — of IT deployment

The hybrid model allows organisations to continue to benefit from investments they’ve already made in on-site infrastructure, which can be used for the most suitable workloads. Meanwhile, where deemed appropriate (for any number of reasons — political, data policy, time scales, economics) overspill or new projects can be deployed into the cloud, the benefits of which are wide ranging.

Barriers to cloud adoption still exist

As we’ve explored in the past, perceptions of cloud are holding back some organisations from taking the plunge. It is therefore understandable that some organisations may feel more comfortable keeping certain kinds of data locally. Crucially, the hybrid model still allows these organisations to take advantage of the benefits of cloud where they feel its use is appropriate.

As cloud computing becomes increasingly mainstream and barriers to adoption are overcome, it will be interesting to see where the balance eventually rests between on-site and outsourced cloud deployment.

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