Let’s put our cards on the table. Hybrid cloud computing is in your future. Maybe not next year or in three years but, by necessity, all IT infrastructures will evolve to become hybrid. What you need to think about is how to prepare, lay the ground work and test the waters in the near term so that you are not running up against brick walls later and having to back track on the road to hybrid. As an example, you could end up in a position where all your hardware reaches end of life and you have no choice but to buy new hardware or move to the cloud all at once. Neither of which is desirable
A majority of articles written today about public vs. private vs. hybrid cloud computing are shortsighted. Maybe that’s too harsh. Rather, they reflect current limitations of the application, networking and management technologies and intelligence necessary for hybrid infrastructures to function at optimal performance.
These limitations won’t last. The hybrid IT infrastructure we envision will constantly search for and evaluate options across the cloud landscape to deliver the best performance, the lowest cost, and the ideal combination of cloud-based resources or other programmed criteria available to you at that moment. At any given time your infrastructure may include different service providers, multiple storage locations, high-level compute capacity or seasonal applications, depending on the immediate tasks at hand. The infrastructure itself is intelligent.
That’s not to say that you should delay the start of your hybrid infrastructure journey until everything is in place. That’s too late, and you will be far behind your competitors – both known and upstarts from left field.
The simplistic view of hybrid cloud computing today is that you keep certain workloads protected in your data center, in both your legacy and private cloud. Other workloads are shunted off to the Internet and into a public cloud somewhere. Public plus private equal hybrid. The real point being made here is that cloud is not an either/or proposition; you can have both but that barely scratches the surface of what hybrid IT will eventually do for us.
Cisco’s Intercloud and Intercloud Fabric represent a big leap into the future of computing … hybrid cloud computing and, collectively, hundreds of potential service providers at present. How? The Intercloud is an interconnected global “cloud of clouds” and an extension of the Internet or “network of networks” on which it is based. Cisco Intercloud Fabric is a highly secure, open, and flexible solution that gives you complete freedom in workload placement, based on business needs. It applies the same network security, quality of service, and access control policies in public clouds that are enforced in the data center. And as capacity is added, there is no demarcation between internal and external clouds.
Key features include:
- Self-service consumption of hybrid resources with end-user and IT portals
- Workload provisioning and bidirectional migration
- End-to-end security with consistent policy enforcement
- A single point of management and control for physical and virtual workloads
- A choice of cloud providers and hypervisors
Other companies have embarked on similar initiatives. It’s all very real.
One of the big questions facing IT leadership today as they look to the future is whether they actually need to maintain their own data centers and bear the cost and management burden that accompanies them. The arguments for in-house operations continue to fall back to security, data protection, control, compliance and performance. Those arguments are wearing thin and getting thinner all the time.
Many are using colocation as an alternative to company-owned data centers and as a stepping stone to transition more workloads to a multi-tenant cloud, i.e. public cloud. Many also are finding that leveraging their investments in existing hardware and software in a colocation facility also provides an easier avenue to create hosted and managed private clouds dedicated to their exclusive use, without the cost or complexity of doing it all themselves. Colocation can also serve as a gateway to a hybrid cloud design that bypasses the Internet via the direct connections of the provider, at the same time it enables mixing and matching in a hybrid cloud stack. This is a benefit of utilizing a cloud provider that also offers colocation within the same data center. There are advantages to have your own hardware close to the cloud, such as the ability to achieve a hybrid environment that has even more blurred lines. In typical hybrid environment, you have to move entire workloads. When the colocation is in the same data center as the cloud, you can split the workload by putting part of it in cloud and have part on your own equipment. This level of flexibility isn’t common with most cloud providers.
Certainly, not all IT infrastructure and cloud service providers are equipped to offer such a tightly integrated and managed infrastructure. But those that do are preparing clients for a more seamless evolution into true hybrid IT. It’s closer than you think.