2013 will be The Year of the Hybrid Cloud. Hybrid cloud is the trend that unlocks public cloud adoption for the really big IT spenders: enterprise IT. Specifically, the big iron organizations are combining the flexibility and power of public cloud platforms for customer facing front-end systems while relying on the enterprise class transaction processing of their existing data centers. They are exploiting the best of both worlds – positioning hybrid cloud for significant growth in 2013.
The challenge for enterprise-scale companies is in making hybrid cloud as reliable and as manageable as their time-tested data center systems. To achieve the increased flexibility and cost savings that cloud deployments offer, application management and cloud service vendors are stepping up to provide increased visibility into cloud-based application performance. As IT operations teams realize this shift in management capabilities, they will quickly move to deploy applications in hybrid cloud environments.
Cloud adoption is growing rapidly. As one example, Amazon Web Services (News - Alert) (AWS) is projected to produce revenues of $3.8 billion in 2013, and many other large vendors now offer similar services. Much of that growth has been driven by small and mid-sized businesses, while enterprise participation has been limited to test environments and small “rogue deployments” not managed by the IT operations team. Officially sanctioned movement toward the use of public application services at large companies has been slower.
A recent BlueStripe survey showed that enterprise companies are considering hybrid and public cloud options, but aren’t rushing in. Only a small fraction have moved mission-critical applications to cloud-based environments. The survey showed that while 65 percent of companies are considering cloud deployments for critical applications, only 3 percent have completed cloud application deployments, and just 7 percent have committed to cloud deployments in 2013.
Data security and application performance visibility are two key concerns driving this hesitation. Fortunately, hybrid cloud can now provide significant benefits in those areas while providing a flexible cost effective environment. That’s why this is the breakout year for hybrid cloud deployments.
Maximizing Strengths While Minimizing Risks
Hybrid cloud environments leverage the strengths of cloud deployments, while minimizing the risks by retaining control of back-end systems in the data center. Concerns with applications in the cloud focus on three things: attaining flexible scalability, securing back-end data, and managing application performance. A properly architected hybrid cloud deployment makes it possible to achieve all three.
With hybrid cloud, IT teams can deploy applications faster, adjust capacity in real time, and consolidate servers for significant cost savings – all while keeping control over secure proprietary data. The remaining issue is the potential loss of application and transaction management visibility.
Complete Transaction Visibility
To properly deal with any performance or availability issue, IT operations teams need complete transaction visibility, both in and out of the cloud environment. Conventional wisdom says that the requirement for visibility is dependent on the deployment. Public cloud demands less visibility. Managed systems in the data center require more. Hybrid clouds, though, turn that notion on its head, requiring complete visibility across all pieces of the application environment.
The visibility gap created by the separation of application functionality from platform specification must be crossed to properly manage applications in a cloud environment. This can only be achieved by monitoring end-to-end transaction performance across the entire application – both in the data center and in the cloud:
Application performance management (APM (News - Alert)) tools are evolving to provide this complete visibility for end-to-end transaction visibility in hybrid cloud environments. Now that the third cloud deployment issue can be met, enterprise companies can now take advantage of the benefits that small and mid-sized companies already enjoy with cloud deployments.
What Does that Mean for IT Operations?
First of all, IT operations teams will now be able to confidently say “yes” when thinking about using public cloud services to deploy a new application. Using (now) established best practices, they can design systems that provide highly scalable front-end delivery with the control and security of the data center.
The feeder of this confidence is the newfound ability to monitor transactions end-to-end across the entire hybrid environment – the data center and the public application services. Ultimately, that means fewer problems, faster problem resolution, and happier customers. After all, that’s what this all supposed to deliver anyway. So “cheers” to 2013 – The Year of the Hybrid Cloud.
Vic Nyman is the co-founder and COO of BlueStripe Software.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi