While it may not be a great idea to eat hybrid vegetables or fruit for health reasons, hybrid solutions certainly make technical and commercial sense for IT infrastructures.
In the yester years, a popular model involved engaging with a limited set of vendors for solutioning and procurement. This was essentially to reduce the “complexity” of dealing with multiple vendors and the challenge of integrating solutions from different OEMs.
In our own experience of serving enterprise customers, we have heard of “single vendor” as being a primary requirement during solution discovery and purchase.
Today however, most solutions are available in consumption ready forms (XaaS) and are more open to connect easily with other solutions via API and web services, making the job of building a composite solution with best of breed components well within reach of any IT Team.
Also considering the pace of technology progress, and the deep level of digitization in most businesses, it’s near impossible for a single vendor to provide a complete solution to an organisation’s wide digital needs. Some of the best solutions come from focused companies specializing in a certain area and providing a “deep” offering.
Hence hybrids are NOT just interim solutions to facilitate a migration or a cooling in period. Instead, hybrids are here to stay as the preferred solution model, allowing you to use best fit solutions for the problem at hand and still have an integrated feel of your business IT landscape.
Let’s explore some examples of hybrid setups, which are quite popular today:
Cloud + In premise – Best of both worlds
In this model a portion of your workload runs on resources placed in the cloud, or via SaaS solutions on the cloud. The remaining portion runs on an in-premise setup, with orchestration between the two platforms.
Major uses of this model include:
Migration Facilitation: To maintain business continuity in the interim period, while migrating specific workloads to the cloud in phases.
Private Infrastructure: Depending on company policy, you may need to maintain specific portions of your workload and data pieces private and in premise, while the rest of the resources and data can be hoisted into the cloud.
Disaster Recovery: The cloud can serve as a disaster recovery site for a fully in premise setup. Cloud-based storage and computing resources are elastic, meaning you only pay for what you use. This allows organizations to replicate applications and infrastructure and store recovery data for a fraction of the cost of on-prem disaster recovery solutions.
Bursting performance: Clouds offer a superior, flexible and scalable IaaS platform, which can be leveraged for workloads needing intermittent or consistent burst performance (ecommerce, content distribution, etc), large contiguous storage, etc and allows you to pay per use to optimize your bill. So, in a hybrid, you can look at migrating such workloads to the cloud.
Multi – cloud = More Flexibility
Multi cloud is an IT strategy to gain flexibility while designing and deploying a solution and allows you to leverage the best capabilities & strengths of each cloud.
Essentially you split your IT workload across the chosen multiple cloud platforms so that each deployment leverages that cloud’s strengths. E.g. you may choose AWS for the durable, scalable and high-performance cloud storage, or you may choose IBM Watson for its strength in AI, etc.
IDC predicted in its IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Cloud 2017 Predictions that more than 85% of enterprise IT organizations will commit to multi-cloud architectures by 2018.
Some of the major drivers for this move are:
Preventing Vendor Lock-in: The primary apps would run on one of the cloud platforms, but the copy/backup of all the data would be stored on another cloud. This not just provides a level of redundancy, but it also reduces chances of vendor lockin and facilitates migration from one primary cloud platform to another, without worrying about migrating data.
Getting the Best of each platform: A multi-cloud strategy gives you choice and flexibility. Each cloud platform and application have a unique set of strengths, which can be collectively leveraged to achieve your organisational goals.
A multi-cloud strategy enables you to mix and match these different features and services based on the outcomes expected.
Adhering to Policies, and Regulations: You will need to choose the location of your workloads depending on the constraints imposed by your business policies, the application vendor and government regulations. E.g. your policy may dictate that all MS workloads to be run on Azure or all AI related workloads to be run on IBM Watson, or all auto scaling front end workloads to run off AWS, etc. You may need to host region specific workloads to comply with government regulations regarding PII, etc.
Co-existence of applications – Split your end users
In a multi-cloud strategy explained above, you may opt to use one complete application/workload from one cloud and another application from the other cloud. However, with a co-existence model you are splitting one workload across 2 or more providers.
You would choose to do this to leverage the different strengths of 2 service providers for sets of users with differing requirements.
The basic premise of this model of deployment is that not all users in an organisation are equal and therefore each needs a different level of service. One size does not fit all.
E.g. one of the most popular deployment from our world , is for 2 email solutions to co-exist, which optimizes costs, derives flexibility and aggregates the strengths of both players. In a 1000 user organisation, it may suffice to have 100 users on a rich email platform like o365/gsuite. While the rest of the 900 users are placed on a basic email platform, while sharing the same smtp address space, contact list and authentication.
Conclusion: The Future ready enterprise
It’s the era of specialisation and vendors of clouds, business solutions, and technology are narrowing their focus to provide a “best of breed” deep offering in their choice of domain (platforms, security, productivity, collaboration, etc)
Each of these deep offerings now become available as building blocks for customers to create reliable and enduring business solutions for their complex and growing needs in the hyper digitized world.
Thus, enterprises who want to be future ready, have no option but to embrace the “discomfort” of dealing with multiple vendors, multiple technologies and multiple solutions to integrate these into their IT landscape and gain from choice, cost optimisation, superior postures, improved resilience and freedom from vendor lockin.
The Future belongs to Hybrids.