The Future Belongs to Hybrid Clouds

Arthur Cole

If the enterprise is transitioning over to a cloud architecture, that means there will come a time when individual organizations will one day do away with their own data centers, opting instead to outsource all their data needs.

Well, not so fast.

The fact is that cloud computing is poised have a major effect on how we create, process, share and ultimately dispose of data, but don't hold your breath waiting for the Age of the Cloud to begin.

Top thinkers in the field are in near universal agreement that the most likely scenario for the foreseeable future is that of a hybrid cloud environment. Most enterprises, save for the very small, will employ a mix of in-house and outsourced computing and networking resources, cherry-picking the ones that suit the task at hand.

Most of the major vendors are gearing their platforms to suit the hybrid model, arguing that it offers the greatest flexibility to suit the dynamic data requirements of today.

InformationWeek cornered Russ Daniels, HP's CTO of cloud computing and vice president of cloud strategy, recently and quoted him very bluntly saying "virtually every enterprise" will adopt a hybrid format before too long. His main concern is that data workloads themselves will have to be re-architected to encompass both virtualized in-house environments and the cloud.

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and EMC's Joe Tucci have the hybrid model very much on their minds as they extend their long-standing working relationship into the cloud. Both CEOs say they are in the process of re-architecting their platforms to allow users to decide what resources and applications will go on the cloud and what will stay in-house.

Some firms are already taking concrete steps toward the hybrid cloud. Google recently began offering "applets," downloadable appliances, that let users deploy the company's cloud-based offerings internally. Google Search applets have been available for some time, and the company just came out with an off-line version of its Gmail product.

IBM and Juniper are on board as well, this week showing the fruits of a collaboration aimed at managing hybrid clouds. The project uses Juniper APIs designed for Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) to enable remote management capabilities using a simple drag-and-drop interface. The setup allows applications to be easily transferred from public to private clouds and back again.

Despite all the talk about a new cloud paradigm, it seems clear that the traditional data center is not, repeat not, about to go the way of the dinosaur. In fact, cloud-enabled enterprises will find that their plain, old data centers will suddenly have an entire world of resources at their disposal.

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