When one cloud may not be enough

The rise (and roadblocks) of the hybrid cloud.

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When it comes to the cloud, commitment isn’t always a good thing. With so much innovation happening with cloud providers today, the options may seem endless. That’s why more and more large companies are considering the shift to a hybrid cloud, which allows them to mix and match best-of-breed solutions to take advantage of the top option for every part of their business. They may use one cloud for staging, another for front-end development and keep the most sensitive information on an on-premise server.

Companies that already take a hybrid cloud approach are likely ahead of the game. But those that still store all of their data on-premise could be missing out on a key step toward greater innovation. Whether you’ve heard of it or not, here’s what you need to know about a hybrid cloud approach—including the roadblocks to implementing it.

The promise of a hybrid cloud

For many companies, the concept of a hybrid cloud is a new one, and in most cases, it’s an afterthought—not a key part of a business’ strategy. That said, it will become increasingly important for businesses to support a combination of public and private clouds for multiple business needs. Why now? An increasing number of services are offering best-of-breed cloud solutions that allow a business to run everywhere—securely. Because of this, companies don’t want to settle for a single cloud provider that does everything well. Instead, they want to choose multiple cloud providers that are the best at a single thing. They want to shop around on pricing and features to gain a competitive edge in every part of their business. 

And while an on-premise server makes sense for highly regulated information from the likes of banks or government organizations, there are many other business operations that are far more efficient in the cloud. These include event management and services, streaming technology, database and distributed file systems and load balancing. But switching to a hybrid cloud isn’t nearly as straightforward as it might seem.

Overcoming vendor lock-in

The promise here is a good one, but it isn’t in the best interest of cloud vendors to have businesses treat their services like an a la carte menu. Because of this, the promise of “write once, deploy everywhere” is tougher to achieve for companies looking for multiple cloud providers. Without a common API, it becomes challenging for each new service to take the same format, creating standardization roadblocks.

This doesn’t mean companies should give up all hope of a hybrid cloud approach, though. Containers are making it easier than ever for businesses to move data from one cloud service to the next, side stepping some of the challenges of vendor lock-in. It’s helpful to think of containers like an online order. Instead of shipping each item in the order separately, containers allow you to transfer everything from the warehouse to your door in one neat package—not seven boxes that arrive on your doorstep at different times. This level of flexibility was not available even five years ago, but now that it is, companies have far more reasons to shift to a hybrid cloud approach.

The future of the hybrid cloud

We’ve made a lot of progress when it comes to the hybrid cloud, but there’s still plenty of work left to do. Ultimately, the company that creates a hybrid environment where businesses choose best-of-breed services across private and public clouds—while ensuring orchestration amongst all of those clouds—will win. Time will tell whether this is achieved by a startup or a large, well-established company. What I do know is that, when it is achieved, companies will have even more potential for doing business in the cloud.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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