Overcoming the hybrid/public cloud compromise


By Carlo Nizeti, Senior Manager, Systems Engineering, Nutanix ANZ
Wednesday, 03 August, 2016

Overcoming the hybrid/public cloud compromise

Amid the buzz around cloud, hybrid strategies continue to dominate conversations as Australian government agencies and enterprises alike search for a way to balance that which needs to be kept on-premises versus what can be beamed into a data centre. The perception is that hybrid will make IT easy and keep costs down, but in reality, it isn’t delivering on its promises.

Indeed, hybrid promises a lot — it’s perceived as a flexible way to accommodate the diverse requirements of evolving organisations.

In a perfect hybrid environment, organisations can easily segment workloads, applications and so on, based on what suits their requirements in order to maximise availability and performance — and employee productivity — to achieve the return on investment that traditional storage and server arrays struggle(d) to deliver.

Although these concepts are sound, the truth is that hybrid cloud is more a bridging mechanism for organisations to move from on-premises infrastructure to public cloud, rather than a true cloud platform on which to build and expand business.

While it segues certain apps into a modern environment, much stays the same, with workloads running on old in-house data centres that are too rigid to respond to new demands, and therefore slow the entire business.

Hybrid’s not alone — going ‘all-in’ with a single public cloud provider also comes with a series of unexpected compromises.

Many of the organisations that have migrated the bulk of their data centres into a public cloud provider’s facilities have found that predictable workloads, for example, generate significant management costs. What starts as a means of eliminating infrastructure spend becomes an unexpectedly high operational expenditure.

Additionally, organisations that are all-in with public cloud find that getting applications and data out is a feat of its own. Lock-in scenarios are very typical. In 2014, it took 20 Facebook engineers one year to move one billion Instagram photos from Amazon Web Services’ data centre to its own without impacting users.

Facebook is fortunate — it has the personnel and budget to manage such a major project. Many other enterprises, and particularly government agencies that work to strict budgets, aren’t so lucky.

Then there’s the problem of unexpected costs. Multiplatform magazine publisher Bauer Media was recently said to have experienced severe bill shock after moving to public cloud. The cause was a complicated user experience which led to them paying for servers that were running even when unused. Bauer Media was able to remedy the issue through third-party integration tool GorillaStack.

Gaps in hybrid and public cloud have granted passage to the emergence of enterprise cloud platforms. Enterprise cloud leverages hyper-converged infrastructure to provide the simplicity, flexibility and scalability to deliver today’s apps and data in a predominately on-premises private (or hosted private) environment, while also balancing appropriate workloads — such as backup — in the public cloud.

In its Q1 2016 Cloud Computing report, 451 Research indicated the on-premises and hosted private cloud market will see strong adoption in the next two years; today, about 23% of all workloads are running in these environments — in 2018, this figure will have jumped to 31%.

In the last two years alone a number of niche players have entered the fast-growing enterprise cloud space hoping to grab some market share as organisations continue to transform their businesses through IT.

At the same time, more than 21% of the enterprises surveyed by 451 Research said they had moved apps or data from primarily a public cloud to a private cloud environment.

While security is the outright main driver for the move — particularly within heavily regulated sectors such as government — enterprises also cited better control, availability, IT centralisation and lower costs as key reasons.

Today’s organisations need a faster way to adapt to changing demands while maintaining a high level of control over apps and data — this is the focal point of enterprise cloud platforms: they are designed to deliver the level of control needed to respond to business challenges at the user’s rate.

According to ESG Research, this ‘elasticity’ is the most important component of private cloud for 35% of companies.

Over the next few years, Australian organisations will continue to experiment with public and hybrid cloud environments. There will be success stories aplenty, but many will face unexpected challenges on the back of promises that will fall short as businesses demand change.

While enterprise cloud may not be a panacea — there’s rarely a technology that solves everyone’s problems — this approach has been designed to better manage modern demands while ensuring the simplicity that organisations need.

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