Is it better to be ‘Cloud-first’, ‘Cloud-only’, or ‘Cloud-ready’

By: Morpheus Data

Is “private cloud” an endangered species? After all, the conventional way of running a private cloud is to buy and manage the servers and other hardware infrastructure used to store and operate your apps and data. A principal benefit of cloud computing is not having to deal with hardware (much) because so much of your IT infrastructure is virtualized. While private cloud services will fill an important niche in the future, hybrid clouds will continue to be the cornerstone of companies’ cloud strategies for many years to come.

Why build private clouds? In a word, security. But there are two other good reason enterprises, in particular, retain in-house data operations: First, they haven’t yet squeezed every penny of amortization out of the hardware and software they own outright — or lease via a long-term agreement. CIOs may talk about security and governance concerns related to the public cloud, but what’s holding back much of their cloud adoption is legacy equipment and process.

The second reason some IT functionality remains on premises is prudence: Growing familiarity with managing cloud infrastructure shows the wisdom of not putting all your eggs in one basket. Organizations want to take advantage of the benefits of new technologies at a pace that ensures their valuable data assets will not be put at risk by relying too much on a single third-party cloud service. This explains the growing popularity of multi-cloud strategies, as Computer Business Review’s April Slattery explains in a September 19, 2017, article.

How Hybrid Clouds Smooth the Journey

The consensus of the industry experts is that eventually, organizations of all types and sizes will rely on cloud services for a majority of operations but the nature and mix of those services will vary. The “cloud only” approach can be seen as a logical end-game but as InfoWorld’s David Linthicum writes, the first cloud-only companies are usually those that are very small, or very new, and often both.

At the same time, the clear trend is toward increased reliance on hybrid clouds by companies of all sizes. Research conducted by MarketsandMarkets concludes that the global hybrid-cloud market will grow to $91.74 billion by 2021, representing a compound annual growth rate of 22.5 percent. The popularity of hybrid clouds shows no signs of waning: A survey conducted by McAfee found that the percentage of companies adopting a hybrid-cloud strategy increased from 19 percent in 2015 to 57 percent in 2016, as reported by Associations Now’s Ernie Smith in a September 19, 2017, article. Numbers compiled by Statistica forecast growth in the global hybrid-cloud market from $40.8 billion in 2017 to $91.74 billion by 2021.

Source: Statistica

InfoWorld’s Linthicum cites a recent survey of “IT leaders” conducted by Commvault that found two-thirds of the executives fear missing out on the latest innovations being offered by cloud services. While only 24 percent of the survey respondents report being “cloud only,” another 32 percent describe themselves as “cloud first” with plans to become cloud only. Linthicum likens today’s cloud-adoption trend to IT’s reaction to the rise of the web two decades ago: first, a “go away” mentality, followed by a slow and reluctant (and piecemeal) adoption, and finally comes a rush to seize an opportunity before the competition does. That rush is where critical mistakes can be made, which is one of the many good reasons for adopting a hybrid-cloud approach that maximizes internal resources and gives organizations a range of cloud options to choose from.

Private cloud finds it’s place and pace

What prevents companies from committing to cloud only is the need to safeguard sensitive data, trade secrets, and intellectual property. In particular, highly regulated industries such as government, financial services, and healthcare must ensure compliance and proper governance of sensitive information.

Research conducted by Gartner forecasts growth in private cloud services as an important component of the multi-cloud approaches that are becoming the norm in organizations of all types. In a September 8, 2017, article on Silicon Angle, Michael Wheatley points to a Gartner analysis that found “rapid growth” in the use of third-party private cloud services. Still, the reticence CIOs harbor about trusting their data to a cloud-only approach applies equally to the firms offering to host their companies’ private clouds.

According to Gartner’s most recent Hype Cycle for Cloud Security Products, private clouds have reached the “trough of disillusionment,” which means that in terms of value to users, the technology has failed to live up to its hype.

Source: Gartner, via Silicon Angle

The long-term outlook for private clouds shows promise, however: Technologies that are able to survive the disillusionment period enter the “slope of enlightenment,” which leads to the “plateau of productivity” — if they are able to earn their customers’ trust, that is. Low storage costs, instant scale, high availability, and the elimination of in-house infrastructure top the list of public cloud benefits. However, any company that has adopted a cloud-first or cloud-only strategy knows well the other side of the coin: spotty or nonexistent internet connections, the added risk to data as a result of multi-tenant cloud services, bandwidth limitations, and untrustworthy cloud service providers.

Your cloud plans don’t have to be binary or one size fits all and they shouldn’t be dictated by a single hypervisor, platform choice, or cloud provider.

Getting from now to next and always being ready for anything

There are a number of issues that we see customers encounter when engaging in cloud transformation projects. While there is a desire to stand-up internal private clouds for all of the reasons called out above the truth is these deployments are often more complex than expected, hardware costs are displaced by people and tool costs, and it can be difficult for those internal clouds to keep up with the pace of innovation found in the public domain.

Many of our most successful clients have had false starts along the way, have tried their own automation projects, have worked with a number of IaaS and PaaS platforms, and are constantly re-evaluating their tool choices. The truth is there is nothing wrong with that description and in fact, failing fast and reducing the mean time between experiments is part of both cloud and DevOps maturity. There is no way your internal IT teams can keep up with the pace of change across multiple hybrid IT stacks, developer toolchains, and deployment platforms.

The trick is to create an environment that provides control without chaos and agility without anarchy. You should be able to:

  • Span platforms: bare metal, hypervisors, native containers, PaaS, serverless,etc..
  • Span destinations: OpenStack, VMware, PCF, K8s, AzureStack, AWS, Azure, Alibaba, etc…
  • Provide I&O teams the guardrails and role-based access to meet the desire for control
  • Provide Dev teams the ability to bring their own tools and treat infrastructure as code
  • Cover end-to-end deployment needs from build servers to day-2 monitoring, logging, and scaling

To learn about how Morpheus could help your teams deploy applications in less time independent of cloud implementation strategy setup time for a demo with one of our solution architects. Our next-generation cloud management platform can unify orchestration across the tools you already have and the ones you’ve yet to discover.