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Considering Hybrid Cloud? Four Top Questions, Answered.

Tom Christensen Tom Christensen
Global Technology Advisor & Executive Analyst, Hitachi Vantara

March 10, 2021

2021 is set to be the year of hybrid cloud. In fact, Forbes has even listed it as one of the top 10 digital transformation trends of the year, declaring it the “winning enterprise architecture.” A multiple cloud approach does provide greater choice and greater flexibility – two major benefits at a time when agility and adaptability have never been more important. But this approach comes with greater operational complexity.

So if your business is on the fence about hybrid cloud, here are answers to some of the top questions many IT decision-makers will be asking this year.

Why Choose Hybrid Cloud?

The application landscape is moving on from a monolithic architecture towards next-gen applications running on microservices. It’s all about fast delivery of applications and services to stay competitive in the market. This change will give businesses the agility and flexibility to quickly launch innovative new digital services.

Let me give you a good example to illustrate why faster application development is more important than ever.

Last year, the U.K. government announced it would be launching a Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) to help out small businesses during the pandemic. The banking sector was put under immense pressure to turn around this offering in an incredibly short amount of time. In a scenario like that, having a legacy monolithic application architecture is your worst nightmare. As some banks discovered, operating in a hybrid-cloud environment would have made this a lot easier.

A hybrid-cloud platform enables your in-house development team to create microservices that can be used to roll out next-gen applications and services, as well as combine applications with microservices from public cloud providers. Microservices act like LEGO blocks, enabling greater agility and flexibility when developing new products or services.

How Is the Hybrid-Cloud Market Developing?

For many companies, the last five years have been all about testing containerized applications and running proofs of concept. But now, hybrid-cloud solutions are starting to become more mainstream and are being adopted in enterprise data centers around the world. In fact, industry analysts have predicted that within the next year, a growing number of global organizations will be running containerized applications in production.

However, there remains some concern about operational complexity in areas, such as security, monitoring, data management and networking. This issue must be addressed before public cloud services can be used with next-gen applications created by internal development teams.

How Can Public Cloud Be Used To Add Value?

If your business is peaking for a couple of hours, it can be expanded by replicating or spinning-up new microservices, on premises or off premises. On top of that, you can create an application that incorporates a public cloud service of your choice.

For example, imagine you have a voice recording file that you need to turn into data for a compliance officer. You could use a transcription service from a public cloud provider to translate that recording into cleartext, which can then be added to the metadata of the file, enabling an internal search function. That saves you from having to spend time developing a similar service yourself.

Many companies are already adopting this approach, combining private and public cloud services to accelerate the development of new applications and services. As a result, these companies have an edge over competitors.

How Can Containers Be Used With Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud is playing an increasingly important role for companies looking to modernize their applications. This modernization involves taking existing, monolithic legacy applications and breaking them up or rewriting them to run on different independent microservices.

Each of these microservices can run in their own container environment, which is beneficial because containers are highly portable and have less dependency on the operating system and underlying hardware platform. This approach incurs less overhead than traditional bare-metal hardware or virtual hardware.

Eventually, you’ll get more out of your hardware investments and be able to move your microservices workload in and out of public cloud as you choose. Hybrid cloud will also help bring your operations team closer to your development team, enabling new services to be updated and implemented faster in a practice called DevOps.

Why Are Workloads Repatriated and Do They End Up in Private Hybrid Cloud?

It’s worth noting that moving workloads in and out of cloud does come at a price, and not all workloads should be moved into a public cloud provider. Thirty-eight percent of virtual machine (VM) and storage workloads are repatriation ready as they’re often too costly, lack reliability, exhibit performance issues, or have limited flexibility. As an example, public cloud providers have frozen Moore’s Law and kept the storage prices at 2015 levels, whereas the infrastructure vendors have continued to lower prices every year. If you’re interested in finding out more about where to run your workloads, read my previous blog on the topic here.

Many companies undergoing application modernization projects right now are unsure about which hybrid-cloud platform to host their applications on and how to securely orchestrate containers in a hybrid IT environment. Kubernetes has become the de facto platform for container orchestration, providing increased speed from development to deployment and increased efficiency. The vendor you’re using for your hybrid-cloud software will usually offer a solution themselves, but it’s important to consider what other solutions are out there on the market to help you to better manage costs, security and portability. You must make the right choice for your business.

Final Thoughts

A private hybrid cloud can undoubtedly support businesses in driving digital innovation at a high speed. But it’s important to optimize both IT operations and IT costs, while balancing governance and security risk. Your choice of vendor will be absolutely critical: A poor decision could lead to increased costs and wasted time.

Tom Christensen is CTO and Customer Advocacy for Northern EMEA at Hitachi Vantara.

Tom Christensen

Tom Christensen

Tom has +30 years' experience in data center modernization, from compute and data infrastructure to hybrid and multicloud, applications, DataOps and big data analytics. He writes extensively about technology and advocates for sustainability and social innovation.