Hybrid IT infrastructure seems to be the deployment mode du jour, but some theorize that hybrid is just a stopover on the way to a 100% public cloud environment. With cloud adoption as a whole moving slower than many anticipated, it may be too early to definitively say whether hybrid is here to stay, but in our opinion, hybrid will remain a valuable model for many years to come.
Surveys from McAfee and RightScale both show hybrid cloud and multicloud adoption increasing, with McAfee finding a jump from 19% of organizations using hybrid cloud in 2015 to 57% using hybrid cloud in 2016, and RightScale showing an increase from 58% to 71% over the same period.
But are these increases just because hybrid cloud is the easiest deployment model? Often times a company will add cloud resources alongside their current infrastructure, which is considered a form of hybrid cloud. Or is it because the definition of hybrid cloud itself is shifting?
Hybrid cloud can now mean:
Not everyone will agree that all of these fall under hybrid cloud. There remains some confusion over the terminology that could lead to high levels of reported adoption.
The increased popularity of microservices and DevOps methodology means that many enterprises are pursuing cloud-first for new applications, but require them to operate alongside and integrate with legacy infrastructure. Those server rooms are considered a sunk cost and once they have reached maturity, it is possible that enterprises will abandon them for a cloud-only approach.
However, for the time being, security and control concerns persist. The McAfee survey found that only 23% trust public cloud security (an increase from 13% in the prior year, but still under a quarter of IT professionals displaying confidence in cloud provider security). Meanwhile, many CIOs are still struggling with cloud cost containment, as cloud sprawl and efficient use of cloud resources continue to cause growing pains.
For long-term applications, this means that colocation and on-premise infrastructure comes with a more accurate cost assessment, as many still attempt to manage their cloud waste with experiments and one-off applications. Security and compliance concerns continue to feed private and hybrid cloud deployments as well.
A colocated solution can often bring the same uptime and security confidence as on-premise or private cloud, while also enabling interconnection opportunities to a variety of content providers, public cloud services, and other telco and media companies. Many enterprises are continuing to invest in colo for this reason, maintaining the status quo while preparing for a hybrid rollout and easy cloud integration, with unbeatable connectivity.
It is very possible that hybrid turns into a stepping stone for public cloud, but likely not for another decade or longer, as enterprises age out of their existing infrastructure and gain more experience with cloud hosting providers, reducing security concerns and improving cost forecasting and efficient use of cloud environments to reduce wasted spend.
In the meantime, hybrid cloud — whether or not you consider “multicloud” to fall under its umbrella — will continue to be the dominant mode of adoption, for both enterprise and midmarket companies. Smaller organizations may have an easier time going all-in on public cloud resources, but may still require engineering and technical support assistance. Compliance sensitive workloads are often still best suited for private cloud or on-premise deployments, as well as applications that require very high performance or very low latency.
We foresee hybrid maintaining dominance well into the future, perhaps until another paradigm shift in service delivery occurs. Whether that comes from the much hyped edge computing, distributed computing, or somewhere else remains to be seen. One thing is for certain: cloud resources, whether public or hybrid, will continue to gain steam for enterprises and SMBs alike as they look to modernize and add resiliency and scalability to their IT environment.