Hybrid IT vs Hybrid Cloud – a changing landscape

I recently had the opportunity to speak at a CxO peer to peer networking event, run by Gartner.  I was on stage with a leading Finance Sector CTO, who described how he is deploying new systems into Azure and he’s enjoying the flexibility that brings. However he has legacy (auto corrected himself to “traditional”) workloads that due to the nature of the application will always reside within the data centre.  He also said without prompting that if you think the cloud is cheaper then you’re in for a surprise.

That story resonated with anecdotes from other customers.  The appeal of the hyperscale public cloud is it’s flexibility and speed to market.  However with most things in life, anything you rent is always going to end up being more expensive than anything you buy.  In addition, at the inception of the public cloud paradigm there were some assumptions around only running applications when you need them and therefore not paying for unused resources.  Which is fine in a research paper, a lab or a startup with only 1,000 customers.  But start adding real people (especially non-IT folk) to that mix, and overlay existing business processes into that mix – most decent sized enterprises experience is that switching things on and off isn’t realistic for a good proportion of the applications they use.

In context, I think the landscape is maturing somewhat.  There used to be a narrative that everything is agile and due to a variety of factors (security, latency, etc.) you want the public cloud agility but those factors constrain you.  So why not use OpenStack / Docker / Stackato / Vmware to have a private cloud for the best of both worlds???  Let your applications magically float between clouds. That has been the common hybrid cloud story for the past few years.

Right now I’m hearing more people talk about not everything needing to be Netflix.  Some new workloads are public cloud native and need the agility and flexibility it provides (along with associating it to a specific P&L).  But some things just don’t need that flexibility (and specifically those things are commonly running the majority of the business’ revenue driving workloads).  In addition newer workloads such as AI where the maths is so compute intensive that dedicated on-prem GPU accelerated infrastructure is the preferred platform once things get past R&D.

Today’s story is becoming less Hybrid Cloud where apps move between different environments, and more Hybrid IT where different platforms have different benefits and those are the decision points around where to host them

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