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Hybrid Cloud Planning

April 21, 2014

This article was originally written for Forbes Custom Media and shared here with permission from author.

Taking a few lessons from cloud's first wave can smooth the path to hybrid deployment.

Most IT executives think of hybrid clouds as an integration of private and public clouds. That’s true of most current deployments, but hybrids can be more than that. A hybrid cloud can be any combination of two or more public, private or community clouds. Below this fundamental concept is a broad spectrum of technologies and architectures.

Keeping the Cart Behind the Horse

The key to successful cloud planning and deployment is ensuring your business requirements drive the planning. Public and private cloud services have disappointed some organizations simply because the technology choices were put in front of the business requirements.

“It’s a very different operating model for the IT organizations,” says Josh Kahn, EMC’s Senior Vice President of Global Solutions Marketing. “To work in this hybrid cloud environment, they have to think about IT services rather than IT projects. And they have to design into their hybrid cloud the services that their application developers are going to need—and then behind the scenes figure out the right place to source those services, whether it’s the private cloud or the public cloud.”

Thomas Bittman, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, says that: “Too often, private cloud services are started by choosing a technology, but technology itself does not solve the transformational people and process issues. It is much better to focus first on an approach to make transformative changes. In many cases, that means creating a separate organization outside of traditional IT processes…and focusing first on a simple project that has buy-in between IT and IT’s customers.”

It's Not Just About Cost

Hybrid clouds are also driven by on-demand, pay-as you-go pricing; the agility to shift workloads when and where they make the most sense; the flexibility for competitive innovation; and the ability to “burst” beyond a single cloud service to meet resource demands.

“Public cloud is particularly good for low cost of entry and immediate spin-up of resources,” Kahn explains. “But in terms of an ongoing operating model, it gets extremely expensive. We’ve talked to a lot of people who found sporadic performance because there are typically pretty minimal guarantees around performance and availability. So you contrast the high long-term operating cost of the public cloud with the relatively small incremental chunks that you can invest. What you find is that the best way to get the most out of your cost and the best agility is to be able to mix public and private. Use your private cloud as your core IT environment and use the public cloud as needed when there is an opportunity to execute more quickly or reduce cost for a period of time.”

Successful hybrid cloud services have tremendous potential, if they are planned correctly. Lessons learned with both public and private clouds are the foundation for planning the hybrid architecture and selecting the supporting technologies that are right for your business.

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