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5 hybrid cloud trends proving key in 2017
Key hybrid cloud trends and what they mean for your organization
By 2020, Gartner predicts, corporate “no-cloud” policies will be about as common as “no-internet” policies are today – in other words, you’re about as likely to see Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster in your office as you will be to encounter a no-cloud rule. Further, Gartner predicts hybrid cloud will become the most common form of cloud consumption as the final barriers give way to the new normal in enterprise IT.
If Gartner’s call is likely to be correct, 2017 represents an especially important year in the continued evolution of hybrid cloud. That's proving true in many IT departments.
[ What is multi-cloud and what it do for you? See our related article, Multi-cloud vs. hybrid cloud: What's the difference? ]
“In working with our clients on various projects and strategies, we are seeing the majority focused on their hybrid-cloud strategy – either creating a strategy or executing one,” says Nathan A. Ulery, managing director, performance services at IT consulting firm West Monroe Partners. “IT leaders either recognize that the agility requirements of their business partners require a cloud component to their overall infrastructure strategy and are preparing for those efforts, or they are already well on their way to executing their strategy.”
Let’s explore five key hybrid cloud trends shaping that focus as we approach the middle of 2017.
1. Not all workloads are created equal
In Gartner’s press release touting its predictions of the decline of “no-cloud” policies and corresponding growth of hybrid cloud, the research firm notes: “This does not mean that everything will be cloud-based, and concern will remain valid in some cases.”
Indeed, the growth of hybrid cloud is an acknowledgement that a zero-cloud approach is increasingly untenable. It’s also an indicator that CIOs and their teams need to retain control over their data. Some workloads are simply better suited for one type of environment than another; flexibility is key.
When determining your own approach, Ulery advises: “In deciding on hybrid cloud strategies, IT leaders should make strong business decisions based on cloud fit and financial modeling to decide what applications should go to the cloud, which should remain in a data center, and which applications can be retired from the portfolio. (For more advice on this topic, see our related story, Hybrid cloud: 8 questions to ask first.)
2. Modern technologies, old IT problem: Lock-In
The rise of cloud computing revolutionized how some organizations do business. But for IT departments, cloud has re-raised a longstanding issue: Vendor lock-in. That’s a particular concern for CIOs who need the flexibility and control necessary to make good decisions about where certain systems and data should reside – a difficult proposition if they’re locked into a single environment or platform. Ulery describes a client that is currently developing a hybrid cloud strategy to avoid just this scenario.
“They believe a hybrid model with multiple vendors gives them the ability to provide the best solution for each workload – and a better negotiating position with each vendor,” he says.
3. Containers, containers, containers
Containers continue to gain importance as a part of enterprise IT cloud strategy. In fact, this year’s cloud story is containers, says Don MacVittie, founder at Ingrained Technology (and he’s most certainly not alone here.) IT's search for flexibility and agility drives the interest, as does a timeless enterprise IT headache.
“Enterprise users, worried about public cloud vendor lock-in, are looking to containers to give them portability,” MacVittie says.
4. Using legacy infrastructure to drive cloud adoption, not hinder it
Legacy systems can sometimes hamper cloud projects. But Ulery offers a scenario where traditional infrastructure can actually help fuel a hybrid cloud strategy in 2017 and beyond: “We have a few clients who have aging data centers, significant managed services, or co-location contracts expiring in the next 12 to 18 months. They are using the impending expiration date as a catalyst to completely re-think how they deliver core infrastructure services,” he explains. “While the TCO for a normal enterprise workload is often only marginally better, IT leaders are acknowledging the speed of deployment and agility creates enough benefit that they are choosing to use cloud infrastructure whenever feasible.”
5. The money is talking
In the recently released 2017 edition of her always-anticipated “Internet Trends” presentation, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers venture capitalist Mary Meeker devotes a section of slides to cloud, aptly subtitled: “Accelerating Change Across Enterprises.” Meeker notes a shift, one that underpins several others on our trends list: The initially predominant cloud barriers – security concerns and cost uncertainties – have ebbed in recent years. Meanwhile, concerns around compliance/governance and around vendor lock-in have grown.
But money might be the hardest trend to ignore. Slide 181 of Meeker’s presentation, for example, visualizes recent changes to how the budget pie is split between traditional data centers, public cloud, and private cloud – with the latter two growing, as the traditional slice slims down – further evidence for the growth of hybrid strategies. Moreover, Meeker notes that combined spending on private and public cloud accounted for 37 percent of total IT infrastructure spending in 2016, up from 23 percent in 2014, and is on pace to soon equal traditional data center spending.