By now just about everyone agrees that public cloud computing platforms are playing a major role in the enterprise. What's less clear is the debate about whether all application workloads will move to the cloud or if hybrid cloud computing is the new natural state of IT affairs.
A new survey of 212 IT decision makers conducted by Peak 10 and Microsoft suggests that the latter perception is starting to win out. A full 61 percent of the respondents said they would intentionally choose a hybrid cloud computing strategy if they were starting from scratch today. Only 16 percent said they are employing hybrid clouds as part of a goal to achieve an all-cloud end.
That doesn’t mean more application workloads won’t be moving into the cloud. A total of 70 percent of the respondents said they plan to increase cloud usage over the next two to four years. Only 26 percent said cloud usage would remain the same, and 5 percent said it would decrease. A total of 44 percent said they would decrease usage of on-premises IT infrastructure, while 32 percent said it would remain the same. But, 25 percent said usage of on-premises IT would increase. When asked about usage of co-location facilities, only 15 percent said they would decrease usage. Nearly half (49 percent) said it would remain the same, and 37 percent said they would increase usage.
The top reasons cited for opting to employ a hybrid cloud computing strategy are cost control (21 percent), resilience/reliability (19 percent), security/compliance (17 percent), and scalability/flexibility (17 percent). The primary reasons cited for running workloads on premises are the need to be able to access data quickly and security/control issues. In effect, the study concludes that most IT organizations want the best of both public cloud and on-premises computing.
Opportunities for MSPs
As a rule, the more complex IT environments become the more reliance there is on managed service providers. The challenge MSPs face is that in a hybrid cloud computing world they need to master multiple management frameworks spanning both virtual machines and bare metal servers. Making matters more complicated will be the rise of new computing architectures based on containers and serverless computing frameworks as well as increased usage of cloud services based on graphical processor units (GPUs) and field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).
In an ideal world, MSPs would be able to standardize on one extensible management framework to address all these scenarios. Alas, most MSPs are going to have IT staffs swiveling between various types of consoles for years to come. The challenge will be keeping the number of management frameworks that need to be mastered to the barest minimum possible because each additional management framework requires specialists that are trained how to operate it. Each additional specialist, of course, increases IT labor costs incurred by the MSP.
Naturally, one day that management of IT will become much more automated than it is today. But until then MSPs need to craft hybrid cloud computing strategies that will need to be significantly more extensible than most currently realize or appreciate.