In conversations I have with customers, Hybrid Cloud and Multi Cloud are increasingly emerging as potential strategies for organisations. In practice, it often appears to be unclear what these two trends mean. In this blog, I will discuss these two trends in more detail and recommend what you could take into account when adopting a Hybrid Cloud strategy.
By Daniël Perrier, Innovation Strategist COMPAREX the Netherlands
Reading time: 6.10 minutes
We refer to a Hybrid Cloud solution if elements of the infrastructure run in both a Private (Cloud) environment as well as in a Public (Cloud) environment. For example, there may be situations in which an organisation has its own data centre in which the infrastructure is located and managed. But it is also possible that the infrastructure is installed at a hosting party, while the management is performed by the customer itself. In other words, the customer has a ‘private’ cloud in which the company itself, remains responsible for the infrastructure management.
In addition, many organisations have already migrated parts of their infrastructure with a Public Cloud provider such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform or IBM Bluemix. When both Private as well as Public are integrated, we refer to the infrastructure as a Hybrid Cloud.
The term Multi Cloud is used when several Public Cloud platforms are integrated. For example, an organisation that uses both Microsoft Azure as well as AWS as platforms on which the infrastructure runs.
The difference between the two strategies is therefore whether or not a Private Cloud is connected to a Public Cloud. In practice, there is often confusion about the use of the two terms Multi Cloud and Hybrid Cloud, the latter using Private Cloud connected to a Public Cloud, where Multi Cloud only uses Public Cloud(s).
Hybrid Cloud in practice
In practice, most organisations that have not started during the past five years, still have some form of an ‘own’ infrastructure. These infrastructures were often built in the days when Public Cloud was not a good alternative yet, for the issues that existed at that time. Many of these organisations are currently examining the Public Cloud, yet are all faced with the same questions and challenges when determining the right strategy:
- How do I determine which Public Cloud provider is the best for me?
- How do I ensure that I remain flexible enough to switch between platforms?
- How do I embrace all the benefits of ?
- Organisations are often afraid of (vendor) lock-in when choosing a Public Cloud Provider; in other words, is there an EXIT strategy from the Public Cloud?
- How do I migrate my existing workloads to a Cloud platform without an excessive impact on day-to-day operations?
Goal versus Means
An important aspect when determining a strategy is to establish whether Hybrid Cloud is a goal or a means. By this, I mean that some organisations do not want to go all-in to one or more Public Cloud(s). In this case, the goal is the construction of a Hybrid Cloud model, within which the organisation can determine which services run where. Some remain internal, while some run in the Cloud. Doing so, you will maintain the flexibility to upscale and downscale each workload in the Cloud. Furthermore, organisations control the possibility of determining for themselves which elements of the infrastructure are brought to the Cloud.
Hybrid Cloud can, however, also be a means with which the transition to one or more Public Clouds is achieved. The hybrid model enables organisations to move workloads to the Public Cloud in phases without too much disruption of day-to-day operations. This is especially interesting for larger organisations that are not immediately able to switch to a Public Cloud.
Private Cloud Developments
Within the Private Cloud market, we mainly see developments in the direction of Hybrid Cloud models. The major parties in the Private market (VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Openstack, etc.) all focus on platforms that facilitate the connection of Public to Private. A good example of this is VMware’s partnership with IBM Bluemix and AWS. With VMware’s technology, it is possible to easily create one logical data centre between your Private and Public Cloud.
With this strategic collaboration, both vendors try to simplify migration to the Public Cloud and minimise the thresholds for customers.
Microsoft focuses on Windows Azure stack, which is a similar product. Microsoft is also in the final phase of the delivery of this solution. The big difference between VMware Cloud and Microsoft Azure Stack is that VMware supports multiple partners, both hosters and public cloud providers. For the time being, Microsoft’s solution is only compatible with Azure and hosters with an Azure stack implementation.
The challenge of Hybrid Cloud adoption
The major players in the Public Cloud market all offer the possibility of constructing a hybrid model. The most difficult technical obstacle to be tackled is often the network layer. Private networks are usually not immediately suitable for connecting to a Public Cloud. In practice, the first step is often establishing a direct connection (also referred to as Direct Connect) between the network of the organisation and the Public Cloud provider. Its aim is to make management easier, but also to reduce costs, as data transfer costs from the Cloud to private data centres are relatively high.
In addition, a lot of thought should be given to the design of (new) management structures in the new situation. With the introduction of a Public Cloud, services, and not necessarily capacity, are often purchased. This often requires a change in responsibilities for departments and roles. Furthermore, it is of course important that there is a definite roadmap for the adoption of the Public Cloud. The set-up and reconstruction of the existing infrastructure towards a Public Cloud is not the correct strategy; the benefits of the platforms must be utilised in an optimum form. Only then does the use of a Public Cloud platform make sense.
Public Cloud in combination with Multi Cloud strategy
A Hybrid Cloud solution can also be the perfect way to embrace a Multi Cloud strategy. The adoption of one Public Cloud is often accompanied with the risk of a so-called ‘lock-in’. It consequently becomes more difficult to use other providers and this is often experienced as a major challenge,
but this no longer exists if a Hybrid Cloud model is adopted in combination with a Multi Cloud strategy. Because the services and workloads can be migrated via the Hybrid Cloud platform, complete freedom becomes an option.
Impact on license position
The adoption of a Hybrid Cloud strategy often impacts the licensing position of organisations. It is important to calculate impacts in advance and also to determine a correct strategy for this. An important question that you should evaluate is whether the licence model of the applications or services that you want to transfer to the Cloud, allows you to do this without consequences of being incompliant.
I personally believe that Hybrid Cloud (both as a goal as well as a means) will take the leap in most organisations in the coming years. The Public platforms that organisations want to (and should) participate in are currently undergoing rapid development. Simultaneously, organisations are not able to transfer fully to Public platforms because they often have legacy systems, and the possible disadvantages of a Public Cloud are rightly also critically examined.
At COMPAREX, we therefore also focus on Hybrid Cloud solutions, our consultants can provide sound and thorough advice about a digital transformation towards Hybrid or Public Cloud. This may be technical advice, but naturally also advice about the options in various Public Cloud providers and the impact on your license position when doing do.
Would you like to discuss your Cloud strategy? Then please get in touch. I would be happy to elaborate on this subject with you.