Gartner: Hybrid cloud is today where private cloud was three years ago

By 2017, half of enterprises will have a hybrid cloud

Pretty much anyone you talk to in the cloud market today will tell you that the hottest buzzword in the industry is hybrid.

VMware just launched a Hybrid Service; as did CloudSigma. I recently met with HP executives today who emphasis their hybrid cloud offering. Rackspace, IBM and dozens of other vendors each have a hybrid cloud strategy too.

Well, research firm Gartner says it's not just hype - customers are deploying hybrid clouds. By 2017, the research firm predicts that half of enterprises will have a hybrid cloud deployment.

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"In the past three years, private cloud computing has moved from an aspiration to a tentative reality for nearly half of large enterprises," a Gartner press release reads. "Hybrid cloud computing is at the same place today that private cloud was three years ago; as actual deployments are low, but aspirations are high."

It's not easy to get to a hybrid world though, says Gartner VP Thomas Bittman. Private cloud technologies are "relatively immature and evolving," but that's not even the biggest hindrance. The biggest challenge is the change in process and mentality that using a cloud service comes with. Instead of having an IT shop that provisions resources for the business, cloud is a self-service model. "An ingrained IT culture focused on technical expertise doesn't fit a fully automated, self-service model that requires a service-oriented, team approach," Gartner says.

To get beyond that, Gartner recommends starting a cloud project with a small group pilot, getting comfortable with the model, then rolling it out further. As customers do that, they should consider how they can eventually roll public cloud computing services into that model, to create a hybrid cloud.  

Customers are already forging down this path. And the reason is because of the agility it provides organizations. "Virtualization reduces capital expenses, and standards and automation reduce operational expenses," says Bittman. "However, taking the next step of adding usage metrics, self-service offerings and automated provisioning requires investment in technologies without a significant reduction in operational cost. With this in mind, the driving factor for going that next step should primarily be agility."

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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