In my last two posts, I covered the public IaaS cloud and suggested that a hybrid solution that takes the best from cloud and other IT Infrastructure platforms like managed hosting and colocation is the way to go. I explained there are two key benefits for hybrid — improved economics and improved agility, and then detailed the cost benefits. Next, let’s consider agility, a word that is much used by IaaS vendors. It is where the cloud truly shines — in just about every situation. So what’s not to love? While agility is closely related to accessibility, it’s diametrically opposite to security and control. This is yet another reason why a hybrid approach is often the right one for enterprises.
A CIO friend of mine recently confided how upset he was when he found out that employees within most of the company’s business units were leveraging public cloud services — without his knowledge. It was especially infuriating given that he’d just spent millions of dollars on two new corporate data centers that were only half full. In his mind, something had gone horribly wrong. A major contributing factor to the surprising popularity of public IaaS cloud was the inefficiency of internal IT. It took them months to add new servers in their own data centers. In fairness, the blame didn’t rest squarely with IT. They had to get budgetary approval, place orders, get various sign-offs, install the servers and finally release the infrastructure to the appropriate business unit, many weeks later. So, instead of addressing what they felt was a sub-optimal solution, employees had started side-stepping IT altogether. They were going straight to third-party public IaaS cloud providers – corporate credit cards in hand. The promise of agility was pulling the business units towards the public cloud.
All of this was quite annoying to my CIO friend. Cost wasn’t even his biggest grievance. The bigger concerns related to security and liability issues. When users go to the public cloud, they bypass many important processes and controls that the enterprise had spent years putting into place. The public IaaS cloud doesn’t offer the same level of control or oversight that internal IT does. Unlike their own internal data centers or even a colocation environment, with a public cloud, enterprises have no insight into the servers, switches and storage environment.
Since everything in the public cloud is shared as multi-tenanted resources, enterprises have to place their faith in the integrity of the cloud service provider and the underlying software. Additionally, in the public cloud, there is almost no flexibility in network topology or hardware configuration. Want to use the latest fast SSD drives for your Oracle server? Too bad. Have a penchant for the latest firewalls from Cisco? Sorry.
Therefore, while agility is clearly a big win for the public cloud, security and control issues complicate matters. Again, a hybrid, workload-centric, approach makes sense. Use the public cloud for workloads that aren’t high security, and consider the economics of the workload in your decision too. Some hybrid cloud solutions even allow enterprises to reap the agility benefits of the public IaaS cloud in their own data center — essentially creating an on-premise private cloud.
In conclusion, it’s important that enterprises keep their head ABOVE the clouds by putting their business needs foremost. Take a workload-centric approach, and pick the right IT Infrastructure tool for the job — whether that is public or private cloud, managed hosting or colocation. The best hybrid solutions will be greater than the sum of their parts and will allow enterprises to create a flexible infrastructure that can be centrally managed and that will evolve with their business.
Looking for a variety of platforms to achieve your own hybrid solution? See how Distil Networks created a hybrid environment with colocation, managed hosting, bare metal and IP service from Internap. Read the case study.