Hybrid is the new Black

It is hard for enterprise to let IT go, isn’t it?

For years, we have seen the cloud computing juggernaut unrelenting in getting enterprises to put their IT into public clouds. Some of the biggest banks have put their faith into public cloud service providers. Close to home, Singapore United Overseas Bank (UOB) is one that has jumped into the bandwagon, signing up for VMware Cloud on AWS. But none will come bigger than the US government Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project, where AWS and Azure are the last 2 bidders for the USD10 billion contract.

Confidence or lack of it

Those 2 cited examples should be big enough to usher enterprises to confidently embrace public cloud services, but many enterprises have been holding back. What gives?

In the past, it was a matter of confidence and the FUDs (fears, uncertainties, doubts). News about security breaches, massive blackouts have been widely spread and amplified to sensationalize the effects and consequences of cloud services. But then again, we get the same thing in poorly managed data centers in enterprises and government agencies, often with much less fanfare. We shrug our shoulder and say “Oh well!“.

The lack of confidence factor, I think, has been overthrown. The “Cloud First” strategy in enterprises in recent years speaks volume of the growing and maturing confidence in cloud services. The poor performance and high latency reasons, which were once an Achilles heel of cloud services, are diminishing. HPC-as-a-Service is becoming real.

The confidence in cloud services is strong. Then why is on-premises IT suddenly is a cool thing again? Why is hybrid cloud getting all the attention now?

Hybrid is coming back

Even AWS wants on-premises IT. Its Outposts offering outlines its ambition. A couple of years earlier, the Azure Stack was already made beachhead on-premises in its partnership with many server vendors. VMware, is in both on-premises and the public clouds. It has strong business and technology integration with AWS and Azure. IBM Cloud, Big Blue is thinking hybrid as well. 2 months ago, Dell jumped too, announcing Dell Technologies Cloud with plenty of a razzmatazz, using all the right moves with its strong on-premises infrastructure portfolio and its crown jewel of the federation, VMware. The IT singularity, where the seamless and transparent IT services as a utility regardless of premises, is becoming real. Just like water, it has found a way to come as one.

Roads, bridges and paths. VMs, containers, and functions

To link up both premises, on-prem and the clouds, we have seen many vendors touting connectivity. The data fabric story, or call it any name you want, is a familiar one. Underneath the data fabric concept, the data plumbing is happening. Of recent encounters, NDAS was one I blogged about. Other than what I have encountered, there are plenty architectures and concepts which overlay the Internet networking and thus roads, bridges or paths linking both on-prem and the clouds.

Zipping between these data plumbing and conduits of both premises, virtual machines (VM), containers and functions carry application workloads for cloud native apps as well as the growing enterprise apps.

The pavements have been laid out, and the virtualized compute representations are there, and are factors driving the regeneration of the hybrid cloud story. Data, the big heavy element (or elephant) of the equation, is still a factor to be reckoned with in the consideration of mixing private and public clouds. But it is getting there and soon, we hope to see the lift-and-shift methods a practice of the past.

Hybrid cloud oozes

Why are enterprises repatriating back to on-premises again? The landscape is multi-cloud. The level of differentiation in offerings from the multiple cloud service providers is decreasing. The variation of infrastructure-as-a-service feels indifferent. I tried out AWS and I tried Alibaba Cloud IaaS. In the end I get a virtual private server, running my favourite OS. I install stuff in it and it runs like it should. Meh.

So, why is hybrid cloud becoming buzzy again? For one, IT isn’t a zero sum game. It is not just all on-prem and it is not all cloud. It is a mix, a combo of what works well in each side. Enterprise applications, despite the on-going development of hooking and connects to the clouds, are still what they are, and they are deeply entrenched in every enterprise’s data center. Even after a almost a decade of integrating and moving towards cloud-native, enterprise apps are still what they are. It is difficult to shift all to the clouds where so much of the enterprises businesses depend on these applications.

And from my 3 years experience running my business at Katana Logic, my customers and the opportunities I have met have not truly endeared themselves to the clouds yet. Many still want to “touch-and-feel” and want to be able to “kick-the-tyres”, whilst using the clouds in a disparaging way.

It is about Control

When the cloud first come about, the cost factor was at place. It was relatively cheap; You pay for what you use; It is elastic. I remembered the 5 tenets of Cloud Computing defined by NIST. They are:

  1. On-demand self-service
  2. Broad network access
  3. Resource pooling
  4. Rapid elasticity
  5. Measured Service

I remembered the 5 tenets well because I first picked them up in 2012 while preparing to teach a foundation class on Cloud Computing for EMC. And all the students were from Heitech-Padu, a local up-and-coming cloud service provider at the time.

From a cost perspective, the ability to manage predictable costs on a hourly, weekly and monthly has always been a strong factor in embracing cloud services. But as we think forward, all 5 tenets mentioned above can now be deployed on-premises as well. There is little differentiation anymore.

Pay-per-use? Here you go! Managed IT? No problem! Utility cloud-like computing? Here you go! HPE Greenlake is a testimony of that and more vendors are likely following suit. It is like the Gold Rush, only that the rush is coming back to on-prem.

Control is the factor that is bringing on hybrid cloud. Having IT back on-prem gives enterprise a greater degree of control, even though not all of it. And in this multicloud environment, enterprise companies have more choices now. They can pick and choose the best for their organizations, and far more control of how they want to deploy their IT services for their users.

The IT pendulum has swung back again. Hybrid cloud is IN! Hybrid cloud is the new black!

And …… it is getting expensive to run certain enterprise applications and workloads in public clouds.






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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 30 years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because those are my areas of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to know the facts and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and between 2013-2015, I was SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently employed at iXsystems as their General Manager for Asia Pacific Japan.

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