IDC says that by 2022, more than 90 percent of enterprises worldwide will rely on a mix of on-premises or dedicated private clouds, multiple public clouds, and legacy platforms to meet their infrastructure needs. The report also predicts that a rising desire by companies to mitigate future disruptions by being more flexible, agile, and resilient could make 2021 “the year of multicloud.”
Most people are familiar with the term hybrid cloud (which is part of an overall multicloud approach, using multiple clouds), the combination of a private cloud (usually operating in an on-premises data center) and one or more public cloud services. These public clouds could be in AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and other public cloud providers.
Hybrid and muticloud cloud enables businesses to meld on-premise, private and public cloud capabilities and allows them to share data and migrate apps between on-prem and cloud and between different cloud vendors. By taking a hybrid and multicloud cloud approach, IT teams are becoming more agile and efficient as they manage through continuously changing business needs.
Many organizations choose a hybrid cloud strategy because it provides them the flexibility to maintain certain workloads on-premises but also to take advantage of the benefits of public clouds for other workloads that are characterized by high-volumes, dynamic application needs, and are based on non-sensitive or regulated data. In other words, hybrid on-premise-cloud environments help organizations have the best of both worlds.
Hybrid Cloud by the Numbers
U.K. researcher Vanson Bourne surveyed 3,400 IT decision-makers around the world about where they’re running their business applications today, where they plan to run them in the future, what their cloud challenges are, and how their cloud initiatives stack up against other IT projects and priorities.
- Most enterprises have embarked on a journey to reach their IT operating model of choice: hybrid cloud infrastructure. Global respondents report taking the initial key steps to successfully run a hybrid cloud environment, which 86% consider their ideal operating model.
- Respondents reported running a mixed model of private cloud, public cloud, and traditional datacenter more often than any other (26%), likely a stepping stone toward a fully integrated hybrid cloud environment.
- Global IT teams are planning substantial infrastructure changes. They foresee hybrid cloud deployments increasing by more than 37% over the next five years.
- Strategic business outcomes are driving change more so than economics. Respondents said their primary motives for modifying their IT infrastructures are to get greater control of their IT resources (58%), and gain the flexibility to meet dynamic business requirements (55%). Just 27% mentioned cutting costs as a driver.
- Businesses increasingly rely on multiple public clouds for greater flexibility. 63% of respondents use two or more public clouds and are expecting this number to jump to 71% in the next 12 months.
The Impact of Covid-19 on Running Hybrid Clouds
While the migration from on-premise to the cloud has been decades in the making, the global pandemic has fueled the acceleration of cloud adoption. If enterprises were not already headed that way before 2020, many IT departments are now finding it necessary to ramp their migration to cloud architectures.
More than three-fourths (76% of organizations ) of respondents of the said COVID-19 has caused IT to be viewed more strategically in their organizations. In addition, 46% of respondents said they increased their hybrid investments as a direct result of the pandemic. Companies running hybrid cloud environments are more likely to be agile and seek out ways to become more competitive compared to organizations using other deployment models.
Furthermore, becoming more resilient—adapting better to any crisis to easily scale or shift and continue to deliver services is of utmost importance. Companies also want to avoid risk which is driving IT organizations to more diversified options, including hybrid cloud and multicloud.
Challenges Hybrid Cloud & Multicloud Deployments Face
Hybrid and multicloud approaches bring some much-needed flexibility to companies’ data management strategies. However, despite all its benefits, creating and executing a cloud strategy has become a multidimensional challenge.
Organizations may be grappling with the following concern:
Lack of Data Locality and Consistency
Time- and data-intensive applications and services require data locality, in which data is stored as close to the computation as possible. This can be challenging, especially when replicating data across multiple environments and cloud vendors while ensuring consistency and high concurrency.
Data Replication Overhead & Network Costs
Most cloud providers include the cost of data ingress as part of the service itself but charge a separate data transfer fee to move data out of the cloud. Costs range between 5 and 20 cents per GB every time data is moved and can contribute up to 30% of total fees. With enterprises moving terabytes of data every day that can add up to an unexpectedly monstrous bill.
Data Security & Privacy Issues
In some cases, data may not be suitable for storage on the cloud at all. While hybrid cloud deployments typically let you mask and filter sensitive data and store it off of the public cloud while still letting you leverage the cloud for “low risk” operations, different regional regulations may require the implementation of separate workflows in various areas.
Service Levels and Availability Concerns
Ensuring service levels and high availability is a challenge that is not dependent on the deployment environment, however a multicloud environment can complicate this. At peak periods with heavy data transfer volume or a large number of concurrent users—such as Black Friday, Covid-19 pandemic surges, and the U.S. Presidential elections—response time can be degraded and servers can crash altogether. Cloud environments need to be able to automatically scale up and out to meet CPU and RAM requirements in order to avoid these issues and ensure customers are not dissatisfied.
So What is a Successful Hybrid Strategy?
At this stage, the question isn’t, “Should I move to a hybrid cloud?” Most enterprises have deployed a flavor of hybrid cloud for a while now. Rather, the better question to ask is, “So how can I optimize your cloud strategy in the most optimal manner?
While a functional purpose of a hybrid cloud strategy is to determine which applications remain on-site and which move to the cloud, the overall goal is to improve the value and delivery of the company’s business services and processes.
Additional questions to ask are;
- Which function, applications and requirements are strategic to the business?
- Which operations are core to the organizations and must remain in-house due to security, regulatory or governance issues?
As the world continues to become more digital, enterprises’ legacy infrastructure and even cloud services are strained to support the speed, scale and data locality that is required.
Ultimately, developing a hybrid cloud strategy is first a business decision. When that decision is made well, its hybrid cloud strategy represents the best possible combination of all options–XaaS partners, private cloud, public cloud, hosted providers, captive resources and edge computing.
Cloud computing is often seen as the engine behind digital transformation; the sweeping effort across companies of all sizes and geographies to digitize operations in ways that provide the agility needed to enter new markets, serve customers better, offer employees new working models, and overall become more competitive.
That being said, adopting a hybrid cloud approach is not as easy as a click of a button. How can organizations be sure they are moving the “right” applications and data to the cloud versus what remains on-premises? Are they using the right tools and methodologies to communicate between on-premises, private and public clouds? How can organizations address here and needs (such as those accelerated by Covid-19) versus long term hybrid cloud strategy?