Hybrid Cloud Strategy in a Hybrid Cloud World

I think we can all agree that the technology world we live in has been in a form of transition—or even a multiple metamorphosis, if you will—from the physical world to the virtual world and from the private to the public cloud and everywhere in between. Now, if you were paying attention over the transformative years, there was one thing, in my opinion, that was abundantly clear: no one single vendor or provider would completely control the industry. Think about that for a moment. As hard as Microsoft tried, there was no way the industry would accept having Microsoft Windows Servers as the only option available in the data center. An old saying comes to mind: if you can’t beat them, join them. Microsoft has done just that when it comes to its rivalry and competition with the Linux community. It has not only embraced the diversity of, but also has been working diligently to develop and enhance the functionality of the products for both Linux- and Windows-based servers.

The same could be said about VMware and its virtualization technology. VMware was clearly the pioneer in virtualization, and for a time, it was the only virtualization option available—that is, until other companies jumped on board the virtualization train and started to develop and present competition and options to VMware. Of all the different hypervisors that have been developed during and since this time, only a few have really shined. Amazon AWS is using Xen, Google is using KVM, Azure is using Hyper-V, and VMware is using ESXi. There can never be only one, and that is something that is good for all. Microsoft made the decision to develop its own virtualization solution, Hyper-V, as a direct competitor to VMware ESXi. All of a sudden, the in-house rivalry between the Microsoft and Linux teams seemed to dwindle as the rivalry between ESXi and Hyper-V grew.

Now we have reached a point where the Microsoft juggernaut has demonstrated what it is really capable of achieving when it truly points its heart, soul, and money into something. Microsoft was no longer just happy with being a competitor of VMware and continued its quest to be the most dominant cloud provider on the planet by setting its sights on Amazon. When all is said and done, 2017 could be the year Microsoft is able to achieve that goal. In the meantime, Microsoft and VMware appear to understand that it is much more lucrative to work together in areas of opportunity. Whatever plans VMware had for public cloud dominance have been refocused to partnerships with companies that were previously direct competitors. VMware Cloud on AWS is one of those partnerships.

I believe we have reached a point in time when collaboration and cooperation are the new future and the reality of the direction in which cloud computing is heading. The industry no longer has to make a choice between different technologies, but rather is expected to provide solutions for a wide variety of cloud computing endpoints. That is the hybrid world we live in.

This hybrid cloud world needs a hybrid cloud strategy. If fact, I believe you will find that most companies are starting to make the decision to go for at least two public clouds and, at the same time, multiple private clouds, if for no other reason than the need for placement variety based on the applications or solutions they are responsible for. Managing all these different endpoints on all the different clouds brings a new tool to the mix in the form of cloud management platforms (CMPs). The CMP will be the tool used to help define the corporate hybrid strategy—a strategy to help manage Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Backup as a Service (BaaS), just to name a few. I believe there will be a point at which the dividing lines between, say, PaaS and IaaS will become blurred as the industry consolidates the focus to Everything as a Service (XaaS), or how about just plain cloud services?

The hybrid cloud has become commonplace, but this strategy has its own new set of pitfalls with regard to the management and skill sets needed to make it work. The CMP will become one of the most important tools helping achieve this strategy. It will bring about a common platform to work and develop solutions so that there will not be a hodgepodge collection of different tools, scripts, and workflows all developed by different people and teams. This approach will help ensure that an organization can operate with minimal skill gaps that can be very difficult to manage and to staff over time. This will also help to define the hybrid cloud strategy in a hybrid world.

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