David Grimes is the Chief Technology Officer, NaviSite, which is a managed cloud service provider.
It is highly unlikely to find anyone today that doesn’t see cloud computing having an incredibly bright future given the significant cost, agility, and operational advantages it provides to organizations of almost every size and industry. But believing in the power and future of the cloud doesn’t mean IT has to turn its back on more traditional, physical solutions. The smart strategy is one that combines the most advanced products, technologies, and providers to deliver the best solution possible, whether it be physical, virtual or hybrid.
The term “hybrid” is arguably as overused today as “cloud." For many in the industry, the term is used to discuss the mix or use of both internal and external cloud solutions (public and private cloud by enterprise). However, a less common definition, but arguably a more common implementation, is to describe the use of a mixed architecture including both cloud and a traditional, single-tenant hosted infrastructure.
For a variety of reasons, not everything within an enterprise can move to the cloud immediately. In addition, some applications with performance or licensing concerns may not be fully ready to operate in an exclusively virtual world. Enter “Hybrid Applications”: hosted, physical infrastructure integrated with a cloud or virtualized platform which enables the delivery of enterprise-class managed application services.
Meeting Specific Business Needs
This approach provides companies the ability to choose the solution hardware and technology they need based on the specific requirements of their particular business challenge. Think of it as a menu where you can build your own dish – you pick what type of vegetables you want, the type of protein and the special sauce that brings it all together. Like the dish you build yourself, you choose the hardware and the technology you need for your virtual environment, ultimately creating the solution that works best for your organization. With this approach, an enterprise could couple the physical environment benefits of performance, OS requirements, and license restrictions with the cloud benefits of rapid deployment and scalable, consumption based billing for a perfect main course. An additional benefit to this approach is the ability to continue to leverage previous CapEx infrastructure investments. This model also provides a straightforward answer to software licensing challenges because many vendor licensing rules have not yet adapted and kept pace with the virtual world.
Innovation Will Continue
The rapid pace of innovation in the cloud space is unlikely to slow in the foreseeable future. Infrastructure technologies such as virtualization are continually improving and present distinct challenges that must be fully understood and addressed. It’s essential to be sure that the IT team is vigilant in understanding the similarities, differences and ultimately changes in the applications and infrastructure ecosystems. Doing so ensures the hybrid application model put in place will continue to be effective and efficient. Lifecycles are shorter and technologies are sunset faster than ever. When you have a technology decision to make or a business process to build, you want to be sure you can adapt as technology changes.
By embracing the hybrid cloud-computing model, enterprises are embracing the opportunity to move beyond the four walls. However, they are also rejecting the binary “either/or” choice of all-internal or all-external as well as all-physical and all-cloud. Instead they are looking for the ever elusive “the best of both worlds.” A hybrid solution may just be the answer.
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