Justifying the Hybrid Cloud: It’s All About the Application

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    While detractors may decry the hybrid cloud as a waste of money and resources, enterprise executives seem convinced that it provides the flexibility and stability they need to conduct data-intensive operations on a limited IT budget.

    But as with most forms of infrastructure, there are right ways of doing things and wrong ways, which is why hybrids are emerging as primary solutions for key application loads rather than general-purpose data support.

    Cloud Computing News’ Chandra Reddy took to the field recently to find out exactly how hybrids are contributing to the data workload, and it invariably comes down to a question of costs: high-volume, low-frequency applications tend to do well with hybrids, while steady, on-going functions do not. One manufacturing CIO, for instance, only needs big infrastructure to crunch sales data every so often but with rapid turnaround. A hybrid solution can deliver the right scale at a much faster pace than traditional infrastructure. Likewise, a government agency gains high-speed backup and recovery through hybrid-based object storage solutions vs. a tape-based archive, with much less management overhead to boot.

    Platform providers are starting to key in on these attributes, with the goal of making hybrids not only flexible and scalable but seamless with local cloud infrastructure as well. SwiftStack recently launched its new Cloud Sync gateway that incorporates user-defined policy management to automate the movement of data across public and private resources. Rather than use a proprietary archive, the system replicates native objects into a cloud-based “bucket,” where they can be accessed for CDN, archiving and collaboration applications while at the same time improving burst capabilities onto public clouds like Amazon S3 and Google Cloud Storage. A single namespace provides for better data syncing compared to basic API compatibility.

    Legacy IT vendors are also ramping up their hybrid capabilities by linking them directly to leading product lines. HPE is working to add a hybrid component to its composable infrastructure initiative by joining the Synergy programmable infrastructure platform and the Helion CloudSystem 10 architecture to create a fully software-defined distributed data ecosystem. The aim is to support traditional data center applications and new cloud-native services on a single IT platform, using automation and intelligent management to simplify resource provisioning, data migration and other tasks that inhibit productivity. Users will also be able to incorporate multiple third-party platforms like Chef, Docker and Puppet through HPE’s Composable Infrastructure Partner Program. (Disclosure: I provide content services for HPE.)

    When you get right down to it, says InfoWorld’s Gavin McShera, the hybrid cloud is more about management than technology. There is no such thing as a “hybrid cloud platform” but rather a layer of software that allows you to compile disparate resources across multiple clouds. The better all these components work together, the more flexible and scalable your hybrid will be. To that end, organizations should concentrate on capabilities like multi-provider integration, application lifecycle support, identity management, and a host of other factors when devising a cloud strategy. And just because IT has become expert in managing data center environments does not mean it will be able to duplicate this same level of functionality beyond the firewall.

    With the lines between public, private and hybrid infrastructure becoming increasingly masked by advanced automation and abstract data architectures, it is very likely that concerns over where and how applications and services are hosted will become moot for the enterprise before too long. Hybrid clouds are the next logical step toward full utility-style computing in which resources are consumed, not provisioned and managed.

    The immediate goal is to lift applications and data off of legacy infrastructure onto hybrid solutions, but the real prize is to stop worrying about infrastructure altogether and focus almost exclusively on core business processes.

    Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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