CIOs Need to Expand their Hybrid Cloud Strategy in 2016 and Beyond
For many years now, CIOs have stated that “Hybrid Cloud” is at or near the top of their strategic priorities. While the definition of Hybrid Cloud varies from company to company, the number of options to build an environment that balances agility and stability has never been greater.
Looking out at the Cloud Computing marketplace in 2016, CIO can now shape their Hybrid Cloud strategy with the follow key elements:
- IaaS, SaaS and PaaS are all viable options – Whether your business is trying to lower IT costs (IaaS), improve developer agility (PaaS) or simplify application usage (SaaS), the market is now full of viable options to help solve each of these problems.
- The market is beginning to reach relative parity for baseline Public Cloud services and pricing between the top 5 providers. While each cloud has a set of unique, differentiated features, the market has reached a level of parity or 70-80% of cloud services. The leading cloud providers are actively competing for business, consistently driving down the cost of compute, storage and data services.
- The interoperability focus should be at the API level, not the underlying technology level (e.g. hypervisor). While not all cloud services utilize the same underlying technology, they are all exposing their services via open APIs. So instead of becoming frustrated with a lack of “cloud standards”, focus your efforts on building or utilizing management frameworks that interact with a variety of open APIs. This will allow you to build business logic around specific functions, and the APIs can help abstract the specific underlying cloud provider’s service.
- Data locality will be one of the biggest factors for any cloud decision. The greatest myth in cloud computing is called “cloud bursting”, or the idea that it will be easy to move an application between clouds. While it may be relative easy to move the portion that runs the application software, moving the application data is difficult. This is called “data gravity”, and in the simplest terms, it means that data is
“heavy” and difficult to move because you’re always going to be constrained by Internet bandwidth. It’s critical to keep your data as close to the applications that process the most data in your applications. Keep this in mind as you’re thinking about where a given application will run, and how it needs to interact with other applications and data sources. As the old saying goes, “Follow the data…”.
- Operational “offload” will be another one of the critical factors for any cloud decision. One of the most costly areas for all IT groups is Operations. The costs of people, electricity, heating and cooling the data center, on-going maintenance of hardware and software, and the list goes on and on. Focusing on modern automation technologies can significantly reduce these costs. But finding the people with the skills needed to deploy these can be complicated. This is where it’s important to look for assistance in offloading some of the operational costs to a vendor or cloud provider, or bringing in outside assistance to ramp up the skills of existing Operations teams.
As the cloud market place has evolved, CIOs now have new options to consider in building their Hybrid Cloud strategy and implementation. With new maturity in the available services, it’s important for CIOs to focus on the areas that will balance the greatest amount of agility with the flexibility to address new business opportunities.