Balancing Public and Private with a Hybrid Cloud Strategy

Brett Goodwin IT Operations, Skytap Product

In a new article, Network World has named 2013 the year of the hybrid cloud. The article also includes 10 predictions by industry analysts, and two in particular caught my eye.

Prediction #1: Hybrid clouds will take off.

That is, in fact, exactly what we are seeing happen on the front lines here at Skytap. In Q3 2012, a record number of new enterprise customers deployed a hybrid cloud architecture using Skytap Cloud, since we first introduced the service in 2008. By establishing multiple secure VPN connections back to their corporate networks, data centers, and geographic locations—customers are able to quickly and easily create a secure extension to their existing on-premise infrastructure. This gives enterprise IT the security, flexibility, and control they require—coupled with the benefits of self-service, elasticity, agility, speed, and collaboration that the downstream internal customer groups of IT desire. And, IT can choose to run some resources on premise, such as a data store with sensitive information, and some resources in the cloud. The choice is completely in their full control. As things stand, some IT workloads are the best candidates to move from internal on-premise infrastructure and into the hybrid cloud first. On that front, we see enterprise customers moving software development and testing, virtual technical training (instructor led and self paced), and field software demonstrations and proof of concepts. Although that isn’t the totality of what’s being done in Skytap Cloud today, there is a clear pattern among savvy enterprise customers.

Prediction #2: Hybrid cloud management becomes key.

To me, this represents the collective realization by enterprises that basic infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is not enough. It’s not just about basic compute, storage, networking, and virtual machines. Sure, those are the core baseline cloud infrastructure components required, but enterprise customers need management tools and capabilities that go well beyond this. They need the ability to easily create and manage complete, whole environments—not just individual VMs, number of CPUs, and the amount of individual machine memory and storage. They want to be able to suspend and save these complete environments when they are not in use. They want more advanced management capabilities like assigning specific roles and privileges to users, assigning users to different groups, creating different projects, and giving users different quota allocations for cloud resource usage. They want automated notifications and alerts when defined usage thresholds are reached, full reporting and visibility into usage, as well as a clear understanding of what their monthly costs are going to be. The good news is that these are capabilities that all exist today. In November, we added some exciting new capabilities to CloudControl™—cloud resource management, automated control, and administration features that are integrated into Skytap Cloud.

As Christine Burns puts it: “The time for dabbling in cloud computing is over … 2013 is the year that companies need to implement a hybrid cloud strategy that puts select workloads in the public cloud and keeps others in-house.”