Cloud computing has been on the IT agenda of most enterprises for the past few years. However, as you might expect of an emerging technology, it’s evolving fast and, as a result, what some businesses might have understood about public, private and hybrid cloud may no longer be true. It’s clear organisations and IT departments are struggling to understand what a true hybrid cloud is so we’re debunking the top five myths:
Myth One: I have public cloud services. I have private cloud infrastructure. Therefore I have hybrid cloud…
Owning or investing in private and public infrastructures without having a joined-up plan can land you with the benefits of neither but the risks of both. For example, local or industry data protection regulations may require that data be encrypted according to certain protocols or stored within a specific geography. Additionally, the ‘agility’ benefits of public cloud may be negated by the costs required to migrate an app from a public cloud test environment to a private cloud ‘production’ environment.
Furthermore, a well-built hybrid cloud solution should be a blending of public and private cloud environments that share a common orchestration layer. This means that data is managed and distributed in a way that optimises workloads, storage and network resources whilst, at the same time, limits organisational risk, increases productivity and delivers agility. Simply deploying isolated public and private cloud solutions isn’t really the same thing.
In short, you must have a plan, and the proper tools in place, to ensure your private and public clouds can work together.
Myth Two: It’s impossible to have a secure public cloud
There’s a myth that only data within the corporate firewall is secure. False. Today, some public cloud service providers offer encryption and security that’s equal to, or might even exceed, that which you get in typical private cloud infrastructures.
Security in the public cloud is about more than encryption though. Shared resources, international hosting and access also have their parts to play. What’s critical is that the right data is treated in the right way. Certain types of data should always go to a private cloud, other data needs to go to very specific types of public cloud, and a third category of data can be stored more flexibly.
When partnering with public-cloud providers, business should be asking: “Am I covered by relevant data sovereignty regulation?”, “Who has access to my data?” And, “Can I move the data if I need to?”
Not all data is suitable for the public cloud and not all public clouds are created equal. This, again, underscores the requirement for an intelligent orchestration layer and a clearly architected strategy to map data to the cloud.
Myth Three: You can use the public cloud for everything, so who needs hybrid?
Let’s be clear: putting some data or workloads into public resources, unless they are very carefully controlled public resources, could land you in violation of local or industry specific data protection regulations, and at huge risk. The laws around this are different in every market and are constantly under review as a range of breaches, consumer rights issues and surveillance methods are constantly changing our perceptions on how data can best be protected.
Conversely, that doesn’t mean every bit of data has to reside in the private cloud; rather an intelligent approach is required to match data to the type of storage that best meets its needs.
The success of many of the world’s most innovative organisations is built upon well-designed hybrid clouds. Many of our favourite social networks, which juggle millions of users whilst delivering updates and new services, are utilizing hybrid cloud infrastructures.
Myth Four: You lose all control of data in the cloud:
Whilst adoption of cloud services continues to increase each year, concerns persist; fear of loss of control and lack of compliance from some of the largest providers outweighs the significant benefits that businesses could see. In some cases, these concerns are well founded: some cloud players can make it hard to extract or migrate your data, deliberately or incidentally, by virtue of the mobility of the data or application in question.
Yet it’s possible to retain control in the cloud, as part of a properly orchestrated hybrid cloud environment. A well-run hybrid cloud has the ability to efficiently deliver resources, empowering IT to be a broker of cloud services, providing the control and visibility the IT department needs, and the on-demand self-service that developers and application users expect. Users can easily provision standardised services directly from an application marketplace portal, delivered from private and public clouds, set by the demands each workload requires, but built on policies set by IT.
Myth Five: The hybrid cloud isn’t for my industry:
It’s easy to think that some industries deal exclusively in data that’s too sensitive to have anything stored in the public cloud – healthcare and finance spring to mind. But, often, what we mean is that some industries will never be able to put all their information in the public cloud. And these then become the sort of organisations that benefit most from a hybrid approach.
Sure, hospitals need to exercise the most extreme levels of caution with patient records, but what about catering information? What about data on their laundry? How sensitive is the stationery order? You don’t want to bear the increased costs of protecting non-sensitive data in state-of-the-art facilities. This is where strategic planning of the hybrid cloud becomes so important.
Many enterprises have already embarked on a journey to the hybrid cloud. This will continue throughout 2015 as businesses look to the cloud for burst resources, data protection, archive, storage tiering and more.
This growth is being driven by factors including greater bandwidth, lower storage costs and enhanced security, combined with the need for greater scale. An increasing number of third-platform businesses like Netflix have become adopters of hybrid cloud, driven by the need to scale at a moment’s notice, but who also understand the growing complexities around securing data across international boundaries.
The competitive advantages in adopting a hybrid cloud strategy are hard to argue. Forward looking enterprises that are able to see through the myths have the opportunity to completely transform the economics of IT service delivery… and their entire business in the process.
* Servaas Venter, Country Manager, EMC Southern Africa
* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA