Hybrid cloud is the future, even if executives don't quite know what to make of it

Survey reveals full embrace of the hybrid cloud model, tempered by low understanding.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

A recent survey of IT leaders finds most acknowledge that hybrid cloud computing is the way to go. However, most are also still trying to understand what it all means.

Photo: Joe McKendrick

Such is the result of a study of 1,050 IT executives by The Hybrid Hive, a news site sponsored by Fujitsu and several other partners. Hybrid is already commonplace -- two-fifths of respondents report they already have a hybrid IT environment in place, while 51% are open to it. Companies are spending almost a third of their total IT budgets on cloud, with 14% spending more than half of their budgets on this technology.

Four-fifths (79%) of IT executives believe it is "inevitable" that the future of corporate IT infrastructure is hybrid, while 81% agree they will have to deploy a hybrid IT environment to meet the needs of their organizations.

However, there is still a learning curve that needs to be climbed. Close to two-thirds, 62%, admit they need more help to understand hybrid IT and its implications. Plus, 37% admit they don't know what a "good" hybrid IT model looks like, while only 33% say they do.

So, what exactly is hybrid cloud? The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines "hybrid cloud" (see page 7 of the guide) as composed of "two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities, but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds)."

The ideal hybrid cloud will make everything -- off-premises, on-premises -- look like one single system. As explained Dave Cartwright in a recent post in The Register: "There's one word in that definition that's utterly crucial to a hybrid cloud setup: orchestration. The most important thing with hybrid cloud is that it acts, to the greatest possible extent, as a single entity that just happens to be spread between locations, providers and technologies."

There are some risks to IT executives not quite up to speed with hybrid cloud, the Hybrid Hive report's authors warn. "If there are more IT decision-makers who do not understand what 'good' looks like compared to those that do, there is a risk the approach won't be implemented in a way that best reflects business needs. This could potentially be costly and damaging in the long run."

Plus, concern about security, coupled with lack of knowledge, will cause executives to hesitate about moving forward. Executives also tend to take too much of a short-term view on hybrid cloud, focusing on cost-cutting, bit not considering long-term advantages such as business agility.

"A knowledge gap clearly exists," the study's authors state. That "puts us at a kind of crossroads: will we let that gap persist, failing to properly capitalize on the potential value of Hybrid in the long run, orwill we work together as an industry to close it?"

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