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What Does Hybrid Cloud Mean?

Posted by Anuj Tuli on Nov 24, 2017 12:00:00 PM

There is a lot of confusion around, “hybrid cloud.” The term “hybrid cloud” is used broadly and often misused. Wouldn’t IT be hybrid by nature? Doesn’t cloud involve different systems, personnel, technologies and processes, all merged under the same umbrella, and therefore innately classified as hybrid? Probably, yes. But there must be a specific meaning in every context when we see the term in use.  

To clarify what hybrid cloud means, we have pulled together some common questions and answers to help you better understand this cloud solution. 

Does hybrid mean on‐premise and off‐premise infrastructure?

When end customers or partners talk about a hybrid cloud set up, they’re referring to an infrastructure architecture that spans on-premise and off‐premise (or public) data centers. Public cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, CenturyLink and others provide hosting as well as management of infrastructure (off‐premise), while vendors like VMware offer virtualization capabilities that leverage on‐premise data center infrastructure to enable a cloud solution that’s hosted by the customer.

One thing that would make hybrid IT efficient in this scenario is if we had a common infrastructure platform that spanned across both the on-premise and off‐premise data centers. And although virtualization as a strategy helps bridge that gap, it’s not as simple to implement and architect. Various vendors are working on developing extensions of their solutions that span the two realms. Take the conversation up a level at the application layer, and the use cases become a little fuzzy—because now we’re talking about the possibility of apps residing off‐premise while data on‐premise, or apps and data residing on-premise, while only using public cloud offerings for horizontal scaling and bursting capabilities. 

Does hybrid mean multi‐cloud vendor infrastructure stacks?

Some end customers choose to deploy a best‐of‐breed model in their environments. Customers may be leveraging Amazon AWS for their public cloud consumption while using VMware for their on‐premise cloud infrastructure. And they may also be using ServiceNow for their cloud‐based IT Service Management applications. In this scenario, the customer wants to make sure that all offerings in their environment are tied into approved organizational processes, and the offerings can integrate tightly with each other. Or maybe they want to allow data to flow cross‐platforms, cross‐vendors so that the various siloes of the organization and multiple teams have the same view of this data.

Does hybrid mean multi‐vendor hardware that powers the cloud?

Customers that are data center-centric have typically invested heavily in converged and hyperconverged platforms. Hyperconverged platforms are combinations of multiple vendor products – for example, storage from one vendor, compute from another vendor and virtualization from a third vendor. These are hybrid hardware solutions, although the entire stack lives on‐premise (or in a co‐location). On‐premise here means that the ownership of hardware maintenance and hardware refresh lies with the end user and not with a third party.

Does hybrid mean multi‐financial models?

Most public cloud components are priced in an OpEx model, while private cloud components are measured in a CapEx model. Is the customer’s impetus to adopt hybrid cloud because of the way the spend budget is being allocated? Or is it the other way around, and they have to change their internal billing models to accommodate the different pricing models? Does hybrid mean different things to the accounting and billing teams vs. the technical infrastructure teams?

Does hybrid mean support of multi‐vendor container technologies for running business-critical applications?

As apps are becoming more business‐centric, and as businesses are becoming more app‐centric, the need for decoupling the app layer from the infrastructure layer is paramount. For enterprise customers that live and breathe applications, a hybrid model could mean supporting multi‐vendor container offerings simultaneously and building new generation apps that are platform independent. Whether the apps reside in a homogeneous or a heterogeneous infrastructure environment, or whether they’re migrated from on‐premise to off‐premise infrastructures, the functionality, availability, and integrity of these business‐critical apps and their data need to be preserved in such a hybrid model.

All of the above?

In most cases, hybrid cloud and hybrid IT have all the above components, or at least some variations of it. Hybrid cloud spans multiple siloes in an organization including hardware and software technology vendor stacks, multiple applications, numerous personnel, different billing mechanisms and various processes. A solutions provider, a service provider, a systems integrator, a consulting firm and a distributor—all want to achieve the goal of being vendor agnostic. They all want to provide and recommend the best solution for their customers, regardless of the underlying vendor technology. You certainly want to concentrate on a best‐of‐breed methodology and have skills and intellectual property around market leaders in those domains.

Tech Data has created IP specifically to assist in integrating multi‐vendor, multi‐cloud processes and data. Tech Data also provides services that help our customers build out hybrid cloud solutions, which deliver mission‐critical business applications. The diagram above demonstrates an example scenario where the customer has a hyperconverged solution with VMware in their on‐premise data centers, and they would like to connect to either public cloud offerings or their internal processes—and Tech Data’s IP plugins and services allow them to automate such use cases.

Please contact your Tech Data representative or it‐solutions‐eims@techdata.com for more information about hybrid cloud.

Tags: Cloud, Hybrid Cloud

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