Are you ready to jump into hybrid cloud?

21 Mar 2016

Hybrid cloud looks set to be a big part of the future for many enterprises

Hybrid cloud is the major enterprise trend of today. But what is it, why does it matter and should you invest in it, asks John Kennedy.

What is hybrid cloud?

Many businesses today are moving services off their own servers and into cloud-based environments.

Increasingly, enterprises are taking a combined approach using on-premise, cloud and third-party servers to run their IT.

This is hybrid cloud.

So why is hybrid cloud a thing?

Hybrid cloud is emerging as the de facto state of IT today, offering firms the best of both worlds – data in the cloud but also a proprietary grasp over their data.

By allowing workloads to move between private and public clouds as computing needs and costs change, hybrid cloud gives businesses greater flexibility and more data deployment options.

Many firms spearheading digital transformation view hybrid cloud as the cornerstone of their IT strategy for the next decade.

Consider it the blending of traditional and cloud infrastructure.


Hybrid cloud is emerging as a top priority for IT leaders. Image via RightScale

Many IT leaders are using hybrid cloud to springboard their organisations to power future initiatives in the areas of internet of things (IoT) and cognitive computing.

A recent study by IDG Research on behalf of EMC based on a survey of IT managers and CIOs claims that hybrid cloud makes implementing digital business initiatives a faster, easier and less expensive process.

83pc of IT leaders said they either currently use hybrid cloud or plan to do so in the future and 20pc said they already host a significant number of workloads in a hybrid cloud environment. 96pc said that hybrid cloud initiatives are delivering measurable results and 21pc said results are exceeding expectations.

On average, surveyed executives say they reduced IT costs by 24pc thanks to hybrid cloud.

The study also revealed that the most aggressive hybrid cloud adopters are the most advanced at digital transformation.

What is the difference between hybrid cloud and ordinary cloud?

According to Gartner, the data centre is no longer the centre of the data universe and the old argument of public vs private cloud has been debunked as firms harness the flexibility of cloud while at the same time the faster computing and security of onsite IT resources

The key to making hybrid cloud work is the availability of single dashboards to manage both onsite and off-site IT.

Many see this approach to managing their IT as providing greater return on investment (ROI) than all-traditional or all-cloud IT environments.

Most use hybrid cloud as the key infrastructure for deploying new innovative products and services.

In a hybrid environment, some data can be uploaded to the cloud while local IT delivers data more quickly.

In most scenarios, firms can elect to keep highly-sensitive data in-house for security and compliance reasons.

How pervasive is hybrid cloud?

How long is a piece of string? There are varying accounts of how pervasive hybrid cloud actually is.

According to Gartner, between 10pc and 15pc of enterprises have adopted a hybrid IT strategy with a blend of on-premise (private) and off-premise (public) cloud services.

Research from RightScale suggests that hybrid cloud adoption could be even higher, with 82pc of 1,000 surveyed customers having a hybrid cloud strategy.


Cloud strategy predictions for 2016 from Rightscale. Image via RightScale

The key driver for hybrid is resources and expertise, with resources/expertise supplanting security as the top cloud challenge of CIOs.

IBM’s Growing Up Hybrid report indicates that improving productivity is the No 1 goal as companies hope to offload some of their IT resources and management complexity to the cloud. A close second is improved security and risk reduction—using the flexibility of hybrid to judiciously choose which workloads and data to move to the cloud and which to maintain in-house. Rounding out the top four motivations for hybrid adoption are cost reduction — shifting costs from fixed IT to as-needed cloud services — and scalability to handle dynamic workloads.

Other trends pushing the rise of hybrid cloud are rapid product development involving DevOps teams that can sandbox and test new apps within the company’s private IT infrastructure.

Another hybrid cloud use case is big data processing. For example, a company can use hybrid cloud storage to retain vital business data such as sales databases, but then run analytical queries in the cloud and scale accordingly using services like S3.

Who provides hybrid cloud?

The Clutch survey found that 23pc of respondents are using Microsoft’s cloud services, 22pc are utilising AWS, 21pc Google and 17pc IBM. Only 6pc said they are using Oracle and 5pc have indicated that they are using Citrix.


The most-used hybrid cloud services in the enterprise market, according to Clutch

Cisco has revealed it is buying CliQr for $260m for its hybrid cloud management solutions.

The main providers of hybrid cloud technologies are: IBM; HP; Microsoft; Dell; Google Compute Engine; Amazon S3; VMware; OpenStack; Citrix; Fujitsu; Joyent Compute, Eucalyptus and Expedient.

Who uses it?

According to research from IBM, seven out of 10 IT organisations have implemented some form of hybrid cloud or blended IT environment.

Some examples of how different companies are using the hybrid cloud model include:


Who is achieving what with hybrid cloud? Graph via IBM study

  • In Ireland, An Post embarked on a hybrid cloud strategy with Oracle that has seen it reduce its on-premises storage by 12 terabytes to date
  • Norwegian data infrastructure provider Cxense ASA serves more than 6,000 media, financial and consumer sites around the world
  • Finnish airline Finnair uses hybrid cloud technology as part of its digital transformation to boost employee capability by enabling agents to respond faster to customer queries
  • Medical CIOs are flocking to hybrid cloud because, in the US, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) regulations stipulate they must prevent the sharing of private data in the public cloud
  • Manulife, a financial services and insurance company headquartered in Toronto, built a global integration platform with IBM as part of its move to a hybrid cloud model.

What are the challenges of hybrid cloud?

According to a study from IBM’s Centre for Applied Insights, 75pc of enterprises leading the way with hybrid cloud agree it’s not easy and agree that it adds greater IT management complexity into their environment.


According to IBM’s Growing Up Hybrid report, forerunners who apply hybrid management capabilities are better at alleviating security concerns

Also, because of this complexity associated with storing data in the cloud, many firms cite security fears.

What is the future of hybrid cloud?


Source: Wall Street Journal, October 2015

70pc of IT organisations, according to IBM, believe they will always have a blend of traditional IT and cloud, growing their use of private and public cloud infrastructure.

According to Gartner, 50pc of enterprises will have deployed hybrid cloud by 2017 and by that stage the genre will be mainstream.

According to Comtrade’s predictions, 2016 will be the year of hybrid cloud as increased complexity of IT requires more automated, smarter solutions.

Skydiving image via Shutterstock


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years