Hybrid IT will lead the next generation of cloud solutions
By Jonathan Kaiser, Solutions Architect, Tech Data
The use of cloud in IT has long been on an upward trajectory. While the prevalence of this technology will continue to grow over the next 12 to 18 months, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing a wholesale move towards to cloud-only operations anytime soon. Instead, organisations who have not already acquired some form of external services for their business will begin adopting hybrid IT solutions.
This is because hybrid IT offers similar usability to cloud-only solutions at a price point that is reasonable for small- and medium-sized businesses. The option of purchasing a whole stack of agile services from Microsoft, for example, to replace all on-premise solutions is worthy of consideration, though the cost of doing so makes it seem less attractive compared to retaining certain services on-site.
However, as certain applications function much more efficiently as cloud services, more organisations will be drawn to the “best of both worlds” approach that hybrid IT provides. Payroll applications or expense management tools, for example, function far better as a service operated by a third-party than they otherwise would when run locally, as these third-party companies will keep these services fully updated and continue adding additional features and functionality to them within the cloud.
Customised business applications, on the other hand, can be tremendously expensive to run on the cloud and therefore are better run locally, from a cost and performance perspective. Utilising a single virtual machine will typically cost anywhere between £500 and £1,000 per month. Therefore, running up to three virtual machines could cost as much as £3,000 per month. When budgeted over three to five years – the typical lifecycle of this equipment – costs soon become exorbitantly high especially when you take into account all the necessary hardware and software that must be acquired.
The downside of the cloud is that you must pay for everything you use, whereas having the equipment on-site provides the option of always being able to run more on it – you can always spin up that extra virtual machine – and that’s where we get into the world of hybrid IT.
Hybrid IT allows users to manage local platforms similarly to how the cloud platforms are managed, along with intuitive user-interfaces. Much like a self-service portal, users can easily select the services they need and launch whatever is required.
We are currently at the cusp of change in regards to how organisations view and utilise cloud technology. Most businesses are currently on their second or third generation of virtualised infrastructure and as they plan to move away from this current generation they will be evaluating what fits on premise and what is better suited to the cloud, as well as what systems and solutions are available that enable them to have a seamless transition between the two. This isn’t just the case for large corporations and enterprises but also for an increasing number of mid-sized companies.
Historically, storage devices have operated similarly to appliances, with codes burned into them at the factory and built to serve only one function. Though some may be able to receive firmware updates, they are typically limited by the design parameters dictated during the design process.
Software-designed storage represents a paradigm shift; because it fits on the hardware and has API links into different areas, in terms of operating system and virtualisations stack, it can do lots of clever stuff. It allows us to make our networks far more intelligent and without it, a hyper-converged virtualisation solution for a mid-sized company simply wouldn’t be possible.
As we’re moving data between, not just inside local area networks, we’re having to talk outside that network into cloud-based services. We want to feel like our security has reached outside of the boundaries of our normal network. We need software-defined networking solutions that make that happen.
The popularity of hybrid IT, enabled by software-defined storage, will be accelerating through next year. Having your own private/hybrid cloud, the resource pools and everything else that cloud-type solutions work from only works when everything is virtualised, including the storage and the networking, and that is what your software-defined storage and network solutions do.