Don’t waste your time with a hybrid cloud

The Achilles heel of the hybrid cloud is the private cloud, a technology platform that just isn’t up to the job

Don’t waste your time with a hybrid cloud
Angelo Tsirekas (CC BY 3.0)

I’m often asked about paired private and public clouds, aka hybrid clouds. What are they? How do you use them? Should you use them?

I’m not talking about hybrid clouds that are defined as traditional systems paired with public clouds or as multicloud architectures composed of more than one public cloud, but hybrid clouds as defined by NIST in 2011. The definition is important because I’m finding that people use the “hybrid cloud” term very sloppily still.

The problem with hybrid clouds is that they are typically defined to be paired private and public clouds, which is the correct definition. The problem with this architecture is that they have the concept of “private cloud” in the architecture, and that dog does not seem to hunt anymore. 

The feature gap between public and private clouds has grown so wide that the private cloud demos that I attend are laughable considering the subsystems that enterprises need, such as security, governance, databases, IoT, and management, versus what private clouds actually deliver. 

Moreover, you’re on the hook for installing the software on typically new on-premises systems, hooking everything up, testing it, and making that private cloud work and play well with a public cloud provider that may do a poor job in providing the integration. At the end of the project, you’ll feel like an abused spouse.   

Of course Microsoft has recently come out with its version of a private cloud, Azure Stack. I suspect that may have some play within enterprises already drunk on the Microsoft tools and platform Kool-Aid. Still, although this new private cloud push has not yet played out in the marketplace, I suspect that having the same company own both sides of a hybrid cloud may be the only way to make a paired public and private cloud work.

My advice: Unless you have a direct requirement for a private cloud, or for a private cloud as part of a hybrid cloud, don’t go there. It won’t bring much value. Indeed, it’ll likely cost you more than it pays back. Private clouds require too much in terms of resources, are too complex, and are very far behind in the functionality delivered.