A global survey of 1,000 C-level executives conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Avanade, a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture, finds that 75 percent say they believe hybrid cloud computing will be an area of focus for their organizations in 2015.
The first is relatively simple. IT organizations are trying to connect instances of, for example– VMware or Microsoft Windows Server– with another instance of the same environment running in an external cloud. Where things start to get complicated is when hybrid cloud computing becomes heterogeneous. More often than not an IT organization will be running VMware internally, but the cloud service provider is running a variant of the open source Kernel-based virtual machine (KVM).
And as the amount of data in the cloud continues to increase, the definition of hybrid cloud computing will soon have to include cloud-to-cloud integration. After all, not all clouds are created equal so it stands to reason that a class of application workloads will run better on one cloud than another. It’s only a matter of time before IT organizations have to integrate those two external cloud services.
The complexity doesn’t stop there. Containers are gaining momentum all across the cloud, so the definition of hybrid cloud computing will soon expand to include workloads running on containers that need to be integrated with workloads running on virtual machines.
One of the major issues facing IT organizations in 2015, noted Judith Hurwitz, President and CEO of the IT consulting firm Hurwitz & Associates, is that most IT organizations don’t have the processes in place to manage hybrid cloud computing. The business clearly wants to bring various silos of computing together in order to be more competitive. But the internal IT organization too often falls afoul to both the technical and political challenges associated with bringing all those different data silos in the cloud together in a way that makes the organization more competitive.
In fact, the Avanade study makes it clear that most organizations today are simply using the cloud to run existing applications elsewhere. A full 71 percent of the executive surveyed say they are using cloud infrastructure to run existing applications.
Hybrid cloud computing clearly has a lot of potential, especially for IT services providers that will invariably be asked to help make that vision a reality. The challenge, of course, will come from getting customers to first define what it is they actually want to accomplish. As noted this week by Jack Sepple, senior managing director of cloud infrastructure and services for Accenture, most of hybrid cloud computing implementations in place today are accidental rather than planned.
But as organizations get more comfortable with the cloud, hybrid computing is going to become more of a clear cut strategy for companies of all sizes. Moreover, it will be the IT services companies that have the skills needed to execute those IT strategies that stand to profit most.