Hybrid Cloud Turns IT from a Cost Center into a Revenue Center

Peer 1 Hosting

As VP of Product, Toby Owen is responsible for Peer 1’s global product strategy and oversees the complete product management lifecycle across the company’s entire portfolio; he was previously the head of international product strategy at Rackspace.

Hybrid cloud – it means many things to many people. This past year, as both a concept and a practical solution, hybrid cloud finally came into its own. We can define hybrid cloud loosely as some combination of the cloud and another technology. For example, cloud combined with bare metal servers or a combination of public and private clouds. Although hybrid cloud can be seen as a buzzword, it is the future of IT, and Gartner predicts half of enterprises will adopt a hybrid model by 2017.

As cloud buyers have become more discerning, hybrid models are becoming a de facto norm because they can tailor specifically to unique business requirements with unique offerings. We will only see this continue in the coming year as vendors rise to the occasion to make all of the varying cloud technologies in the market work better together to enable hybrid cloud. The biggest factors in this hybrid transformation will be federation, interoperability, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Building a Cohesive, Connected Hybrid Cloud

There has already been great progress in approaches to federation and interoperability, which are helping to improve hybrid cloud’s cohesion. Some recent progress in building more interoperable cloud environments include the entry of Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) into OpenStack, the leading open source cloud platform (more on the progress of this effort here). SAML enables single sign-on for Web properties, which makes B2B and B2C transactions much easier. Integrating this into OpenStack-powered clouds allows them to more easily federate with other cloud environments, ultimately giving cloud buyers more hybrid options.

Similarly, federation models like OnApp’s have been maturing, enabling service providers to resell excess capacity among each other. Workload automation is still not a fully automated proposition in the OnApp ecosystem, but the continued growth of their federation is a promising sign that different vendors and service providers can work together toward the common goal of more integrated, hybrid cloud services.

As the OnApp and OpenStack federation models evolve, and other entrants come into the field who also emphasize the interoperability of technology and services, it will be a great leap forward in giving consumers a hybrid cloud offering that is robust and can offer a wide variety of functions.

The Data-Driven Hybrid Cloud

Additional drivers for hybrid cloud’s evolution include big data and the Internet of Things (IoT). Big data was the big buzzword in 2014, but some of its shine may start to wear off as early adopters find the currently available technology amazing, but still lacking a lot in terms of integration and usability. Despite this, the coming year will see more case studies of early adopters of big data achieving impressive return on investment, which will help boost adoption. This will be helped further by a consolidation in the big data software ecosystem as the core platform providers (e.g. Hadoop distributions) start to snatch up smaller solutions to round out their capabilities for enterprise users.

Hybrid cloud is important to big data because bare metal servers tend to be more suited to big data software like Hadoop, which is about horizontal scaling, and doesn’t always require specialty technology like the cloud. That means organizations embracing big data will still need traditional servers and hosting environments, which they will need to integrate with their cloud infrastructure by using a unified hybrid cloud platform.

The Internet of Things (IoT), which is data-driven and a big contributor to the growing volume of big data, will creep more and more into the consumer space in the form of wearable technology and connected home devices. A $7.1 trillion market by 2020 according to IDC, the IOT will affect the workspace as business users bring their connected devices to the office (in similar fashion to BYOD), which means organizations will have even more data to wrangle with. Again, only hybrid cloud platforms can offer the flexibility to really mine the data from the really BIG data generated by the IoT.

Getting Prepared

In response to these trends and coming developments in hybrid cloud, business and technology leaders have some new priorities for 2015. Having a cloud strategy means something different than it did even just a few years ago. With more options in terms of hardware, software and services than ever before, organizations must understand which architecture is right for what they want to do (and get help deciding if they can’t figure it out alone).

The real benefits of the cloud are slightly different than we originally predicted; they are less about pure cost efficiency, and more about speeding up time to market (aka agility). Every CIO and IT decision maker should be thinking about how they can use cloud and hosting to accelerate time to market, which means turning IT from a cost center into a revenue center.

The tone of the cloud conversation has shifted, as we now know that legacy infrastructure can be adequate, or even preferable, for certain tasks and workloads such as big data analytics clusters. At the same time, we are seeing the real performance and reliability benefits of the cloud as it matures as a technology. The reality is that cloud is not one-size-fits-all, but rather a complex and diverse technology that can only truly reach its potential and meet all business demands through an integrated, hybrid approach.

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