Many companies are looking at the hybrid cloud as the ideal way to improve agility, shift or reduce costs, or drive greater innovation. But, what they don’t consider is that today’s enterprise IT environment is not inherently designed to support the move to the hybrid cloud. On-premises systems and public clouds each have their own management tools, driven by the particular product vendors or service providers. This dichotomy results in no single way to control, manage or secure shared compute resources across the entire enterprise IT environment. In fact, it could actually increase costs and complexity, and require more employees, which would negate any benefits a company expects to derive from a hybrid cloud strategy.
To ensure success of the hybrid cloud, enterprises must properly prepare for this transition. In this article, we’ll look the approaches an enterprise should consider and the components needed to ensure a seamless transition to a hybrid cloud. And we’ll explain the importance of implementing a hybrid cloud operating system (HCOS) to deliver integrated management, security and trust across the all the disparate pieces.
Impact of the Hybrid Cloud
The hybrid cloud offers enterprises the ability to leverage computing resources both on-premises in their own data centers, or off-premises in the cloud. The underlying compute, storage and network resources, and where they’re located, are transparent to users. But, with the hybrid cloud, enterprises have greater flexibility to select the resources that meet their ever-changing needs.
While many enterprises started first with private clouds, they now realize that there are greater benefits from a hybrid solution, including the ability to place workloads where they best fit, either on-premises or off; share workloads on multiple public clouds; and scale up or down as needed. As a result, hybrid cloud is expected to be a $1.85 trillion market by 2017, accounting for half of all IT spend, according to research firm Gartner (News - Alert).
Despite the promise that hybrid cloud offers and the anticipated growth, there are a number of pain points and limitations that are giving early adopters pause. Security still remains one of the biggest concerns. Security and integration are among the top concerns for enterprises when implementing a cloud strategy, according to the 2015 IDG Enterprise Cloud Computing Study. Security – including the risk of unauthorized access, data integrity and protection – was cited by 61 percent of survey respondents as a barrier. And integration – such as making information available to applications outside the cloud, and preserving a uniform set of access privileges – was mentioned by 41 percent.
While public clouds are undeniably more secure today, we believe the concern about security and privacy revolve more around the lack of visibility and control enterprises feel they have when they leverage a hybrid cloud model. Each cloud vendor and equipment manufacturer has its own tools and processes, and very often they are not designed to communicate well, or apply policy and business logic consistently across platforms. Because they cannot seamlessly manage their on-premises and public cloud resources, enterprises find that, instead of simplifying their IT, they’re actually adding new levels of complexity and management costs.
Cost of cloud resources is another potential pitfall. Even though the cloud promises to reduce costs, enterprises can get caught off guard with higher bills than they expected, particularly if they’ve moved a large amount of workloads to the cloud or if they don’t have the right governance in place. If they are using a lot of cloud resources, over time, the overall cost may, in fact, be higher than running the same workloads in their own on-premises data centers.
To address some of these problems, enterprises are taking piecemeal approaches, such as writing homegrown scripts that attempt to patch together the various vendor-specific management tools into something more cohesive for overall management. They also have to physically segment their network, using firewalls or buying niche products to deal with application and network security. The problem with these fixes is there is still a lot of manual labor involved, which often negates the automation and agility enterprises desire as an end goal of the hybrid cloud.
HCOS: The Key to a Successful Hybrid Cloud
To eliminate these pain points, enterprises need a solution that enables them to access and manage both on-premises and public cloud resources the same way from a centralized place. A solution should be software-driven and not require any additional expertise to deploy. With this type of solution, enterprises should be able to consistently apply policy and maintain security as they run a diverse set of workloads, operations and services in the most appropriate locations.
Essentially, what enterprises need is an operating system for the hybrid cloud. Much like an operating system on a computer enables users to seamlessly work with a variety of compute resources, an HCOS is software that would manage an application’s access to the compute resources it needs, and not just on one computer, but across a cluster of them both on-premises and in public clouds. The HCOS would give enterprises greater control over resources, automate the execution of programs and turning up of resources, provide more visibility into how the resources interact and support the application of security and policy consistently across the entire environment.
An HCOS will effectively eliminate the challenges of security, control and complexity with which enterprises are currently struggling. More importantly, an HCOS will simplify deployment and management of resources, within policy and governance constraints, enabling enterprises to achieve the return on investment that they expect from a hybrid cloud strategy.
About Apcera: Based in San Francisco, Calif., Apcera has deployed the first policy-driven platform for global 2000 companies. Continuum, Apcera’s flagship product is a PaaS++ that deploys, orchestrates and governs a diverse set of workloads, on premise and in the cloud. In September 2014, Ericsson (News - Alert) purchased a majority interest in Apcera, though Apcera remains an independent company. For more information, visit www.apcera.com.
Edited by Dominick Sorrentino