Hybrid Clouds: The Long Road Ahead

By Mike Vizard Print this article Print
Hybrid Clouds

The challenge facing IT leaders is that there are so many forms of hybrid clouds that they don’t realize how extended a journey their organization may be on.

Consider, Calix, a provider of communications services. The company makes use of an Oracle Integration Service to integrate applications in the cloud. Rave Gade, the firm's director of information technology applications, says that because all the infrastructure is hidden behind application programming interfaces (APIs), managing IT infrastructure becomes less of a challenge.

While integrating applications in the cloud might be simpler, Matthew Eastwood, an industry analyst with International Data Corp., says that “Hybrid clouds will be harder for most organizations. A lot of legacy applications have deep connections to business processes.”

In fact, Joel Taylor, vice president and corporate CIO for CarePoint Health, says maintaining application performance and managing the flow of data across cloud computing environments requires a massive amount effort. “We struggle with the interfaces,” he says. “In health care you’re dealing with a monstrous amount of data.”

Moving Application Workloads at Will

As organizations embrace multiple cloud computing platforms, IT organizations will also need to be able to move application workloads at will.

To address that specific issue, Deal Daly, vice president of information technology for Ancestery.com, says this service for researching family histories wound up using its own engineering resources to build a custom layer of abstraction that isolates application workloads from underlying IT infrastructure. That approach, he adds, means that Ancestry.com can’t get locked into any particular cloud service.

“We created a cloud-agnostic hybrid IT environment,” Daly explains. “We want to reserve the right to make choices.”

However, most IT organizations don’t have the engineering resources needed to build their own layer of abstraction. In fact, very few IT organizations will be deploying one common management framework across all instances of cloud computing any time soon.

Much like IT is managed today, there will continue to be isolated sets of stacks of IT infrastructure supporting diverse classes of application workloads. Those workloads will undoubtedly become smarter about automatically identifying what type of cloud stack they are most optimally suited to run on.

But once deployed, each cloud environment is going to have a set of management tools designed specifically for that environment. Connecting all those management frameworks together will be a set of lightweight brokering technologies that application workloads will invoke to determine what cloud resources are available.

In the meantime, IT leaders should start planning today for how they will evolve and adapt to meet the hybrid cloud computing realities of tomorrow. Most usage of the term hybrid cloud today applies to very simple use cases involving either discrete applications or, at best, common instances of the same virtual machine environment running on-premise or in the cloud.

In the future, hybrid cloud computing will become much more heterogeneous. Once that happens, what passes for hybrid cloud computing today will be remembered as being little more than child’s play.

This article was originally published on 2016-02-02
Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard, a Baseline contributor, has more than 25 years of experience covering IT issues in a career that includes serving as director of strategic content and editorial director for Ziff Davis Enterprise.

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