What does hybrid cloud mean in practice?

Cloud providers and the big players in enterprise IT are pairing up to tempt organizations seeking a route to a hybrid future

Cisco and Google have announced a partnership aimed at delivering hybrid-cloud solutions for enterprise customers, just one of the more notable of a series of developments that highlight how important bridging the divide between on-premises systems and public clouds has now become to corporate IT strategy.

Cloud services as we now understand them have been around for at least a decade, with Amazon’s launch of its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and S3 object storage offerings. Adoption has increased gradually since then, as organizations figured out how to make best use of cloud services and where these fit into their overall IT strategy.

Initially, this consisted of using the cloud for development work and deployment of public-facing applications and services with other enterprise use cases such as backup and disaster recovery following. Some organizations have also experimented with shifting workloads to the cloud, with varying degrees of success.

“What’s happened is that the move to the cloud started off as being pretty chaotic, and it was pretty much business-productivity type of workloads that were the first to get moved there,” said Roy Illsley, lead analyst for cloud and virtualization at Ovum.

Now, organizations are looking at moving core business workloads into the cloud, but they are finding that just taking multitier applications and dumping them onto a public cloud in a so-called lift-and-shift operation does not always give satisfactory results.

The trend now emerging, according to Illsley, is a consensus that migrating core business systems to the cloud will involve a multistage process. Building a private cloud can be seen as the first step, so that core workloads can be moved there in order to gain understanding of how things operate in a cloud environment before proceeding further.

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