Hybrid Clouds: Here to Stay or Stopgap Technology?

By: Morpheus Data

When something is labeled a “hybrid,” the natural inclination is to consider it temporary, a stopgap between what was and what will be. A gas-electric hybrid car, for example, combines old and new technologies. This may be a good choice for drivers today, but as most analysts will tell you, in the automobile industry of the future, gas powered engines will be dinosaurs.

Will hybrid cloud networks meet the same fate as their four-wheel counterparts? Nearly every cloud forecast paints a rosy picture for hybrid clouds, which combine the efficiency and scalability of public cloud services with the security and control of in-house IT systems. Yet history tells us the hybrid cloud phenomenon is transitory.

Some analysts will tell you this is one of those rare occasions when history is wrong. They claim hybrid cloud’s unique combination of performance, affordability, reliability, and security means the technology is here to stay. Other experts believe hybrid cloud promoters overlook many of the approach’s built-in shortcomings, especially hybrid cloud’s cost premium and its more complicated management.

Today’s best cloud approach may not be tomorrow’s

There’s no denying the growing popularity of the hybrid cloud approach. Research firm ReportsWeb forecasts that 82 percent of enterprises will have a hybrid cloud strategy in place in 2017. The overall hybrid cloud market is projected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 34.2 percent from 2016 through 2022. By 2020, hybrid cloud will be the most popular category of cloud computing, as forecast by research firm Gartner.

Another result of the ReportsWeb survey may be more telling: The percentage of enterprises having established cloud governance policies in place will increase from fewer than 30 percent at the start of 2017 to more than 50 percent by the beginning of 2018. As Datamation’s Cynthia Harvey writes in a March 28, 2017, article, changing perceptions about security have played a big role in the growing popularity of public cloud services.

The popularity of hybrid clouds continues to grow, making the hybrid approach the most popular among IT executives by 2019, according to a survey by Saugatuck Technology. Source: Datamation

In the early days of cloud computing, IT managers believed their internal systems were more secure than the cloud. Now, security expertise is a selling point for leading cloud providers: few companies can compete with the talent and experience that Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Google, and other cloud giants benefit from. In fact, the difficulty in attracting the best developers, security specialists, and other IT pros is a primary reason companies cite for going all in with the public cloud.

The CIO’s take on the business case for hybrid cloud

The larger the organization, the more care that must be taken when pinning your company’s fortunes to the cloud. Any enterprise CIO knows the board will want a full accounting of where the cost savings will come from — and when the savings will arrive. Ensono Europe COO Paul Morris writes in a March 30, 2017, article on The Stack that a common reason for adopting hybrid cloud is to mitigate migration costs.

In fact, the feasibility of migrating apps and systems to the cloud often determines which apps stay in-house and which are good candidates for migration to the cloud. You maximize the value of existing systems while avoiding migration costs until current apps start showing their age. Then you’re better able to justify the cost of reimagining the systems in cloud-native form.

Increases in revenue and margin, and a reduction in total cost of ownership are the top two key performance indicators used by organizations to gauge the success of their cloud migration projects. Source: IBM

An obstacle to hybrid cloud adoption is the problem of having to monitor and provide access to systems in two distinct environments: the legacy systems running in-house, and the apps you’ve migrated to the public cloud. The best way to manage the added complexity of managing both aspects of hybrid networks is by using a cloud management console backed up by fast and accurate performance logs.

The Morpheus cloud application management platform delivers the efficiency, reliability, and affordability the cloud is famous for, combined with a world-class interface that puts powerful reporting, logging, and troubleshooting features in users’ hands. Morpheus delivers the unified, comprehensive management interface hybrid cloud users are clamoring for.

Cloud value starts and ends with application performance

Observable Networks CEO Bryan writes in a March 27, 2017, article on Data Center Knowledge that most concerns of CIOs about cloud security have been addressed sufficiently to show cloud benefits far outweigh security risks. Now the gravest concern of many IT operations is the fear that their key apps and data systems will underperform on the cloud. Complicating the matter is the difficulty in assessing the app performance you can expect prior to migrating the assets to the cloud.

Ensuring adequate application performance is a key aspect of your cloud migration plan, but as TechTarget’s Jeff Byrne explains in a March 2017 article, assessing app performance is more subjective than confirming that security and compliance requirements have been met. The cloud infrastructure configuration, network bandwidth, and traffic volumes are unique and variable. There is no way to anticipate how well a latency sensitive application will run without testing it in a real-world environment under production loads.

One solution is to use an on-premises cloud storage gateway, such as AWS Storage Gateway or Azure StorSimple, to cache frequently accessed data and resources locally. Another alternative is to pay for a premium cloud storage service combined with instances that are optimized for I/O-intensive workloads, or with others that are susceptible to latency, such as CRM, messaging, and transaction databases. The obvious downside is the added expense of such services, but for some apps, the extra cost may lead to savings in support, maintenance, and other areas.