best of both: why enterprises are adopting hybrid clouds #OBL13

More and more enterprises are adopting Cloud computing.  And the debate about public-versus-private Clouds, as if they were incompatible dogmas, seems to be loosing some of its bite.  A more pragmatic approach – the hybrid approach – appears to winning.

public & private Clouds: their advantages

A recent international study by venture capitalists North Bridge Venture Partners and IT analysts GigaOM research found that hybrid Cloud infrastructure will be used by 43% of businesses in five years, compared to public-only adopters (32%) and private-only (25%).

There are a range of different drivers and barriers to Cloud computing. The top inhibitors to Cloud adoption – reliability of bandwidth and servers, and the regulatory/compliance – are driving many users to implement the Cloud in private or virtual private environments where they retain more control than they may have in a public realm.

However businesses want the flexibility provided by Cloud. This is shown by the fact that software-as-a-service (SaaS) remains the most common use of Cloud computing with 70% of Cloud adopting companies (and this is typically “public Cloud”). In addition, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) has seen the most growth, up 29% in 2012 to 66% of Cloud users (which can be public, private or virtual private).

So the reason that the hybrid approach to Cloud computing is leading the way is that neither private nor public can deliver all of the needs of an enterprise. IT departments are trying to improve the services they offer line-of-business by cherry picking where to run their workloads.

which one to choose depending on your needs

This phenomenon was discussed during the Flexible Computing session at Orange Business Live in Prague. In summary, the question of whether data or processing resides in an enterprise’s own data center, a virtual private data center managed by a service provider, and public Cloud, boils down to what you want to do with Cloud services.

The top seven scenarios, according to Orange Business are:

  1. Confidentiality: Apps that utilize highly confidential data may be better off in a private Cloud, while the low-cost, low-confidentiality applications – such as desktop productivity – could be procured from a public Cloud service.
  2. Scalability: An enterprise may depend on a private Cloud for the majority of its processing power but spill over to a public Cloud to manage peak loads of processing.
  3. Separating apps from data: An enterprise could enjoy the wide range of applications available from public Cloud services but house the backend database with a secure private Cloud.
  4. Data synchronisation: An enterprise may want to ensure data is synchronized across all sites such as in-house data centers in their established markets and use private Clouds in emerging markets where they lack IT infrastructure.
  5. Backup: A traditional approach is to host applications within a private Cloud but back-up the data on an external public Cloud or disaster recovery site.
  6. Testing: Trying out new apps on a public Cloud before deploying more widely from a private Cloud.
  7. Mobility: using a public Cloud service to mobile-enable in-house resources.

so what would be the uber Cloud?

These chime with the different types of adopters identified by Bain & Company in The Five Faces of the Cloud. Bain’s study of enterprise Cloud adoption characterized users in five ways: “the transformational”, “the heterogeneous”, “the safety conscious”, “ the price conscious” and “the slow and steady”.

Bain believed that early adopters were looking for IT to change the way they worked and so looked outside of their organization to give them flexibility and agility, hence their attraction to public Cloud services.

But as the many middle and late adopters also turn on to the benefits of Cloud computing, more companies are implanting private (and virtual private Clouds) and a mixture of public/private.  Together, the “safety conscious” and “slow & steady” comprise 2/3 of all Cloud users.

In Prague, Orange presented its vision for helping enterprises move to Cloud computing. The argument goes that if you can bundle together an MPLS IPVN, a secure Cloud infrastructure and a catalogue of software and infrastructure management services under one framework agreement, enterprises have a one stop shop for migrating, at their own pace, to whatever flavor of Cloud services they want. This way, the "five faces of the Cloud" would be able to have the network, Cloud and application SLAs for all activities within their control and still be able to broker with external Cloud providers for specific uses.


photo credit: © rufar -

Stewart Baines
Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.