Large Enterprises Float Toward Hybrid Clouds
October 7, 2013 Jenny Thomas
Whether you are part of a large enterprise or a small business, it is inconceivable to think your company is not aware of the explosion in cloud computing in recent years. Even if a cloud deployment isn’t in your organization’s immediate future, keeping an eye on the trends can help you make a better decision about going cloud should the time ever come.
The analysts at Gartner make it their business to follow what’s happening in IT, and there has been some movement in the cloud market that has caught their attention. In a recent report, Gartner says nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017. Which means there must be some serious cloud action happening when you consider 2017 is really right around the corner at less than four years away.
Gartner analysts have seen private cloud computing move from an aspiration to a tentative reality for nearly half of large enterprises in recent years. Now those analysts believe hybrid cloud computing, in which some resources are managed internally and some are managed by external suppliers, is at the same place today that private cloud was three years ago; as actual deployments are low, but aspirations are high.
The reason for the predicted popularity of hybrid clouds and away from private cloud computing is, surprisingly, not about the money. Gartner says when it comes to drivers of private cloud computing, while cost is always an important consideration, a business case for private cloud cannot rely on lower costs as the primary justification. The hybrid cloud represents a shift away from IT control toward IT coordination.
While a move to a cloud environment can reduce capital and operational expenses, the next step of adding usage metrics, self-service offerings, and automated provisioning requires investment in technologies. So the Gartner analysts believe the new driving factor when considering clouds should primarily be agility.
When going to a cloud environment, Thomas Bittman, vice president at Gartner, advises organizations that “it is much better to focus first on an approach to make transformative changes. In many cases, that means creating a separate organization outside of traditional IT processes–at least to incubate these projects–and focusing first on a simple project that has buy-in between IT and IT’s customers.”
Progress made with private cloud environments varies enormously, according to Gartner. Most deployments start small with a limited scope of functionality. As private cloud portfolios grow, the resulting cloud infrastructures will likely be based on the technologies chosen for pilot projects. Organizations that are well on their way with private cloud projects rarely consider technology the major issue. Many enterprises find that custom work is required to meet their needs, but the much more difficult task are the transformational adjustments needed in-house to use the technology. Cloud services require operational processes that are designed for speed and customized for the services offered. An ingrained IT culture focused on technical expertise may not fit a fully automated, self-service model that requires a service-oriented, team approach.
In addition, the Gartner report describes a cloudy market with a lot of vendors vying for market share, where the winners and losers will be determined very quickly with smaller players likely getting acquired or going out of business within the next few years.
“Vendors are promoting private cloud computing as ‘the next thing’ for infrastructure and operations–and it is, but only for the right services,” Bittman says. “Virtualization is a horizontal, very broad trend, impacting a high percentage of IT infrastructure. Private cloud is a specific style of computing that will leverage virtualization, but is not appropriate for all services. While the majority of midsize and large enterprises will build and deploy private cloud services over the next few years, private cloud will only be used for specific, appropriate services.”
Which brings us back to the hybrid. Gartner says when organizations do decide to deploy cloud services, the technology they choose matters tremendously. While pilot projects will tend to start small with limited functionality, it’s important to choose a technology foundation that offers room for expansion, both in terms of functionality, and of hybrid cloud interoperability for the future. The alternative is to choose a technology that provides a rapid return on investment, with the possibility of changing technologies in again within a few years.
Gartner isn’t the only research group making bold forecasts for a cloudy future. Last week, we told you about a report from IDC that predicted spending on public cloud computing will grow from $47.3 billion this year to $107 billion by 2017. Again, the folks at IDC believe the big growth driver will shift cutting IT department costs to enabling startups to do new, interesting, and highly profitable things with cutting-edge clouds.
Additional information is available in the Gartner report Private Cloud Matures, Hybrid Cloud Is Next. The report costs $195 and is available here on the Gartner website.
The Gartner special report, Hybrid Cloud: The Shift from IT Control to IT Coordination, can be viewed here on the Gartner website and includes links to reports and video commentary that examine the impact of hybrid cloud on enterprises.