Gimme Shelter: Working with Hybrid Clouds

(This is the final article in a six-part series that looks at the primary considerations as well as the process of self-discovery that is required in the definition, development and implementation of private cloud computing. The articles were prepared by cloud experts at Logicalis, an international provider of integrated information and communications technology solutions and services.)

by Mike Martin vice president, Cloud Solutions Group, Logicalis

A reluctance to make a commitment to a public cloud is one of the reasons that many organizations decide to develop a private cloud in the reassuringly familiar surroundings of their own data centers. Ironically, the winding path that leads to the development of a robust private cloud environment inevitably leads right back to public clouds.

The many benefits of private cloud

There are tremendous benefits to building a private cloud — many of which we have discussed in previous articles in this series. Some of the benefits of cloud computing, however, are simply not available to you without leaving home. The most obvious one is that you don’t have to pay for capacity in a public cloud out of your own capital expense budget. It’s there whenever you want it, and you pay for it only when you use it.

But you don’t have to choose either a private cloud or a public cloud. That’s old thinking. The good news is that those organizations that focused on systematically developing a private cloud have completed all the steps they need to leverage all the benefits of public cloud computing, as well.

The IT service management (ITSM) protocols based on IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices that you put in place (service catalog, incident and change management and a comprehensive configuration management database, etc.) as well as the lessons you learn setting up and using your private cloud give you the skills and confidence to expand your IT universe beyond your data center. The future role of your private cloud may very well be to act as the broker that controls how you interact with and control other cloud environments.

Point of proof: You are using public cloud now

Many organizations have been using public cloud capacity in some form for years. Payroll was one of the first applications to be allowed out of the data center. Email and other utilities that are not core competencies of the organization have accelerated the trend. has been like a universal proof of concept for software as a service (SaaS). An almost instant availability and pay-as-you-go cost structure for SaaS has since opened the floodgates.

The availability and appeal of SaaS has also dramatized the need to implement a comprehensive cloud strategy. Many IT departments are finding that business units are getting away with a little ad hoc self provisioning by signing up for SaaS outside of the purview of the IT department.

The hybrid cloud model promises to provide the coordinated monitoring and management that will make it possible for the IT department to realize a high level of scalability and operational flexibility by tapping a variety of cloud resources on demand without losing control of corporate data or breaching security or compliance regulations.

Compelling but not ready to fly

It’s a very compelling model, which, frankly, doesn’t actually fly just yet. All the various devils in all the details of an expanded cloud environment have to be addressed, defined, tamed and systematized before the hybrid cloud can live up to its potential.

The concept of the hybrid cloud as controlled environment that can be monitored and managed behind a single pane of glass does point the way for the evolution of cloud computing. You obviously don’t need to have a hybrid cloud to begin taking advantage of the benefits of both private and public cloud computing. As IT departments begin the long journey into cloud computing, however, they need to know enough about hybrid clouds to not inadvertently make it more difficult to implement one when the time comes … because the time will come.