Wednesday 3 January 2018

There's no such thing as hybrid cloud

One advantage in running a tech blog is that you can use it to sound off. It’s like therapy, only cheaper.

So let’s get one thing straight - whatever the marketing hype would like you to believe there is no such thing as hybrid cloud. As defined below, it's a meaningless concept.

Hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment which uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud and third-party, public cloud services with orchestration between the two platforms.

The thing is, to have a hybrid cloud you first have to have a public cloud and a private cloud and while everybody has the first bit, nobody has the second bit.

The public cloud is a very special thing.  The scale at which it operates and the way it’s designed and managed is light years away from the virtual machine based infrastructure that today passes for a local private cloud. They couldn’t be more different.

To pretend that an on-premise cluster running virtualized servers is a private cloud is a bit like comparing a nuclear power plant to a pack of AA batteries and believing they must be the same because they can both be used to light a room; they’re not. Unfortunately, because you need a private cloud before you can have a hybrid cloud, it follows that hybrid cloud doesn't exist.

At best what you have is Hybrid IT, an arrangement in which on-premises infrastructure makes use of the public cloud and may even exhibit a degree of integration but simply linking your VMWare cluster to AWS, GCP or the Microsoft Azure cloud doesn’t result in a hybrid cloud.

So if hybrid cloud is a myth why am I reading so much about it?

I think it’s attempt by some vendors to hitch their  wagons to public cloud before it rolls out of town. To appear current and relevant they have to have a story and hybrid cloud (plus a sprinkling of digital transformation) is that story.

The elevator pitch is that to stay competitive you should be using public cloud but to use it effectively you need to buy more proprietary hardware and install it in your datacenter. I’m not sure that's really true but it sounds plausible and it certainly sells kit, so good luck to them.

In the future will businesses be running processes in local datacenters and shifting workloads to the cloud? It’s possible but not without moving away from the Virtual Machine (VM)  being the unit of compute. They are too big and unwieldy, carry an unnecessary amount of overhead and new technologies are set to replace them.

So when that happy day arrives will we all be running a hybrid cloud?

Maybe but it’s more likely that somebody in marketing would have come up with a better buzzword and the world would have have moved on.

So there you go.  I may be wrong, I may be right - all I know for sure is that I feel better already.

Happy 2018!