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Experts recommend buying a hybrid
The analysts and practitioners interviewed for this article all predict that the majority of public cloud IaaS usage in the enterprise will encompass hybrid installations that also pull together on-premise machines, traditional hosting services and private cloud virtualized services.
The good news is the growing number of cloud service providers gives enterprise customers a wide range of choices on how they want to implement a hybrid cloud, says IDC analyst Melanie Posey. "They can go with a single provider to get all the services needed or they can pick best of breed hosting and best of breed virtualized services."
However, there are competing notions of what a hybrid deployment comprises. In one scenario, hybrid cloud means splitting a single application's workloads between public cloud computing power and a highly protected premise resource, such as a large database. The second involves an organization selecting different IaaS products for different workloads and requires that they all be managed uniformly.
It's the management of either flavor of these hybrid environments that is going to be a point upon which vendors - both IaaS providers themselves and third-party cloud management and orchestration software vendors -- can differentiate themselves, says Kacy Clarke, principal architect with the consultancy Cloud Technology Partners.
Currently the usability of exposed APIs that let IT build its own automation tools to spin up servers in the cloud, for example, or the quality of customer management portals varies greatly, contends Amy Larsen DeCarlo, principal analyst for Ssecurity and data center services at Current Analysis. Going forward, these APIs and management portals are going to need to do role-based management, set up virtual LANs and allow for pre-assessment planning and post assessment analysis.
Another differentiator for IaaS providers will be how well they can pick up IT business while making their underlying service as open as possible so customers don't feel like they are locked into their particular IaaS scheme, Clarke says.
"Enterprises want portability. They want to be able to move workloads in and out of the cloud and their own networks at different times in the application life cycle,'' Clarke says. And they want to be able to pull their workloads off the cloud if either technical or economic issues arise, Clarke adds.
Burns is a freelance writer and editor who has over 15 years experience covering the networking industry. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about cloud computing in Network World's Cloud Computing section.