In the last few years we must have heard every way there is to describe an IT cloud: private, public, federated, hybrid, government, open source etc. etc.. Although there are several cloud delivery models (public, private, hybrid) and several cloud service models (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS), ultimately clouds are a concept, a style, or perhaps even a design pattern.
Public + On-premises = Hybrid
Right now, we’re starting to see the vendors and analysts are planning for most of us to be using public cloud services in the near future. We’ve heard that story for a few years but what’s changed is that we are about to start transparently integrating them with what we do in our own data centres, and think nothing of it.
A Gartner survey for example has recently found that 70% of the companies asked will be adopting a hybrid cloud strategy by 2015, while both Oracle and Microsoft are making their on-premises products seamlessly integrate with public cloud services. In fact, this week Microsoft have put their foot down really hard on the “hybrid cloud” pedal. (“New Hybrid Cloud Capabilities and Enhancements” from http://blogs.technet.com/b/dataplatforminsider/archive/2013/10/17/sql-server-2014-ctp-2-now-available.aspx)
Did we ever realise we now have private clouds?
We heard a lot about private clouds, especially how they could extend the value of a virtualisation platform to provide self-service and on-demand application services etc. However, this is one example where I think the technology has overtaken the marketing messaging. Increasingly, today’s enterprise virtualisation infrastructures are very close to what were described as private clouds only a year ago ago, we’ve just never fully adopted the term.
What will we use hybrid clouds for?
What I see happening though is the borderlines between on-premises and public cloud services blurring for most people in the next 18 months.
My expectation is it’s going to become normal for most to have some disaster recovery, offline storage, complex logic computation or burst capabilities for on-premises systems using public IaaS or PaaS services. (I’ve ignored the fact that most people are already using SaaS today, even if its just for email etc.)
I think it’ll also become normal to have our development platforms for our mission critical on-premises systems on a low cost public cloud platform. The two platforms might be used in different parts of our infrastructures or application lifecycles, but I suspect the names private and public cloud will feel too technical and disappear from general use. We may replace them with the terms internal and external but they’ll all be part of our hybrid cloud. (http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/hybrid-cloud-computing)
My guess is we’ll even drop the word hybrid and just have “a cloud”
I suspect we’ll never adopt the word hybrid en-masse. As always, we’ll use the right tool for each task regardless of whether it comes from our public or private clouds, but in the same way we use virtual and physical services today without thinking twice about how they’re delivered, the same will happen with cloud services. We’ll just have “a cloud”, our cloud.