There is big money forming behind the idea of the hybrid cloud, the notion of having workloads in a private data center and a public cloud service like Amazon Web Services. In fact, some say it's the driving motivation behind this week's massive $67 billion deal between Dell and EMC.
It's part of an overall strategy at IBM to endorse a hybrid approach. If you want to go to the public cloud, IBM has you covered. And if you're uncomfortable there, it has you covered too — and it wants to help you bridge the gap between the two.
AWS sees that gap, too, and it released a bunch of products last week at its annual re:invent conference to help make it easier to move to the cloud, while acknowledging there will be customers living in both places. In a Fortune article, AWS made it clear it wants to help companies bridge the gap, at least temporarily, but it sees a time when most companies won't have a data center anymore.
"'We’ve had a strong belief … that over the fullness of time — ten to 20 years — relatively few companies will have their own data centers, and those that do will have much smaller footprints,' Andy Jassy, senior vice president of Amazon said at AWS re:Invent last week. But, he added, for regulatory reasons or the fact that they have old workloads that still work but are difficult to move: 'they’ll definitely be running in hybrid mode for a while,'" Jassy was quoted in the Fortune article.
Cloud agility and the legacy data center
That 10-to-20-year timeframe sounds a bit slow to me. Consider that GE has already announced plans to close 90 percent of its worldwide data centers over the next several years. GE sees moving to the cloud as a strategic advantage, and it doesn't want to be in the data center business anymore.
As we've seen, there are multiple problems with running your own data centers. First of all, companies have to invest time and money in securing them — and judging by the number of high-profile breaches we've been reading about over the past several years, they're not doing a very good job.
As Box CEO Aaron Levie put it in an interview with The Wrap recently, if Sony had had its content in the cloud, it could have mitigated the severity of its breach.
"Sony has what Levie describes as a 'legacy IT environment,' housed within the corporation, which made the hack difficult to control and to get the system back up and running amid fear that more data could be exposed to hackers," according to the Wrap article.
But it's more than a security issue. It's also about buying, configuring, and maintaining equipment — and an inability to keep up with a technology landscape that is constantly in flux.
The cloud gives you flexibility and agility, and if you're still running your own data center and putting some workloads in the cloud, you can't possibly gain those advantages because you are still saddled with that legacy IT equipment Levie referred to.
The hybrid cloud will surely be with us for some time to come — we've learned just how slowly big IT shops change — but the fact is hybrid won't be the norm forever. It's a bridge to a cloud future where labels will cease to matter and computing will simply be computing and mostly in the cloud.
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