Why the hybrid cloud model is the best approach

Although some cloud providers look at the hybrid model as blasphemy, there are strong reasons for them to adopt it

When the industry first began discussing the hybrid cloud computing model back in 2008, cloud computing purists pushed back hard. After all, they already thought private clouds were silly and a new, wannabe-hip name for the data center. To them, the idea of hybrid clouds that used private clouds or traditional computing platforms was just as ridiculous.

Over time, it became clear that hybrid cloud computing approaches have valid roles within enterprises as IT tries to mix and match public clouds and local IT assets to get the best bang for the buck. Now it's the cloud computing providers who are pushing back on hybrid cloud computing, as they instead try to promote a pure public cloud computing model.

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However, these providers are hurting the adoption of cloud computing. Although public cloud computing has valid applications, the path to public cloud computing is not all that clear to rank-and-file enterprises. For many, it's downright scary.

Leveraging a hybrid model accomplishes several goals:

  1. It provides a clear use case for public cloud computing. Specific aspects of existing IT infrastructure (say, storage and compute) occur in public cloud environments, and the remainder of the IT infrastructure stays on premise. Take the case of business intelligence in the cloud -- although some people promote the migration of gigabytes of operational data to the cloud, many others find the hybrid approach of keeping the data local and the analytical processing in the cloud to be much more practical.
  2. Using a hybrid model is a valuable approach to architecture, considering you can mix and match the resources between local infrastructure, which is typically a sunk cost but difficult to scale, with infrastructure that's scalable and provisioned on demand. You place the applications and data on the best platforms, then span the processing between them.
  3. The use of hybrid computing acknowledges and validates the fact that not all IT resources should exist in public clouds today -- and some may never exist in public clouds. Considering compliance issues, performance requirements, and security restrictions, the need for local is a fact of life. This experience with the hybrid model helps us all get better at understanding what compute cycles and data have to be kept local and what can be process remotely.

Of course there are cloud providers that already have their eye on leveraging a hybrid model. These new kids on the block even provide management and operating systems layers specifically built for hybrid clouds. However, the majority of public cloud providers are religious about pushing everything outside of the firewall (after all, that's where they are). They need to be careful that their zealotry doesn't turn off potential cloud converts. 

This article, "Why the hybrid cloud model is the best approach," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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