Hybrid clouds: A new twist on an old trick

Asking whether hybrid clouds are real or not ignores a simple truth: They've been around in some form for years

Information Week's John Soat had an interesting post entitled "Cloud computing: What's a hybrid cloud and where can I get one?" As John puts it: "Hybrid clouds are the Big Foot of cloud computing: tantalizing but difficult to conceive of and frustratingly elusive to the point of arousing deep skepticism on the part of potentially interested parties. Are they real or a myth?"

This kind of stuff drives me crazy. We've been using architectures like this for some time, including when I was in college. Back then compute resources, such as supercomputers, were both expensive and in short supply. Thus, many of us building solutions would use hybrid architectures to leverage remotely hosted supercomputers only when needed. For the most part we processed locally, but when supercomputing MIPS were required, we'd send jobs to some supercomputer thousands of miles away. This included virtualization and multitenancy, albeit old-school stuff.

[ Get the no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in the InfoWorld editors' 21-page Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report, featuring an exclusive excerpt from David Linthicum's new book on cloud architecture. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

Hybrid clouds, as we're defining them today, are really nothing different. There are two major components of the architecture: the on-premise systems, or the private cloud, and the off-premise systems, or the public cloud.

In IT, we consider the on-premise or private cloud systems to be the most desirable place for our processing because we've already invested in the hardware and software. Then, if we near the saturation point in our private clouds, we move processing to the public cloud until the need for additional capacity has ended. In other words, we're "cloudbursting."

Of course it's not that easy to create a private cloud these days. You have to deal with the interfaces used by both clouds, as well as with heuristics and security. It's a systems development and systems integration challenge. To solve this problem, up-and-coming companies such as Nimbula are looking at creating operating systems that span public and private clouds, and standards are being created around interface compatibility between private and public clouds as well. However, to say that the technology and standards are mature would not be true currently.

Hybrid clouds? Nothing scary and new here. This is a very old architectural trick that has some new cloudy potential.

This article, "Hybrid clouds: A new twist on an old trick," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and follow the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

How to choose a low-code development platform