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Enterprise hybrid cloud adoption gains momentum, part one

by Lauren Horwitz

Managing Editor, Cisco

Enterprise hybrid cloud adoption is gaining steam. The technology has matured, and enterprise attitudes have changed. But in fact, companies are really on a journey to a mix of cloud strategies. 

For a decade, enterprises have undergone some handwringing if they haven’t successfully adopted public cloud strategies. While they want to be forward-looking, their existing infrastructure hasn’t always allowed for migrations to the cloud. 

As a result, companies have been caught between the hype on hybrid cloud architecture and the messier reality of their legacy data center infrastructure. While proponents of the cloud have admonished them to go there or risk irrelevance, many companies historically have had too much legacy infrastructure, too many data regulatory requirements, or too little in-house expertise to migrate without getting hurt along the way. But even over the past couple of years, hybrid cloud infrastructure has become easier to adopt. 

Open architecture part of enterprise hybrid cloud adoption story

So what’s changed? Is enterprise hybrid cloud adoption easier? The short answer is yes. In part, technology has made it somewhat easier to integrate environments. Open application programming interfaces and middleware help companies to better bridge the gap between on-premises data centers and public clouds. In addition to gaining the efficiencies of on-demand cloud infrastructure, enterprises are able to use public cloud resources more strategically.

“Previously customers were turning to hybrid to drive scalability and workload bursting. That’s still the case today,” said Krista Macomber, director of market intelligence at TechTarget, in Newton, Mass., in a video conversation on accelerating enterprise hybrid cloud adoption. “But the agenda is beginning to shift. IT is focusing on more business-impactful drivers, like simplified management, agile application development and using data more effectively that have more strategic implications for the business.”

Multicloud, hybrid cloud and flexible architecture

At the same time, Macomber said, one cloud does not fit all. “It’s where we see these concepts of multicloud and hybrid cloud begin to play in.” One in three cloud services buyers uses a multicloud approach, and some companies may use up to seven, Macomber said. That creates complexity in customers’ environments.

“Business today are pressuring IT to move faster, really adjust their infrastructure resources on a dime,” she said. “At the same time, we’re seeing that IT departments are getting pressure to move away from being that legacy cost center they have been historically. So, for IT departments, hybrid cloud represents a path to keep pace with business: driving agility and automation while reducing infrastructure investment requirements.”

“We’re on a journey to the mix,” said Thomas Bittman, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Research, at the recent Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations Management and Data Center Conference. “Our job is to enable good management and capability for a variety of apps. IT is becoming the broker for heterogeneous styles of computing,” he said.

That’s borne out by companies that are building cloud infrastructure. “We have software developers that play around in Azure,” said Lee Gilbertson, IT infrastructure manager at San Manuel Mission Band of Indians, a casino on Native American tribal land in the Los Angeles area. The casino has most of its IT systems on premises – at least for now. “I can see the day coming where we are building out federation to the likes of an Azure to give ourselves a test environment without spending a lot of money on hardware.”

Still, Gilbertson noted, moving to a public cloud would be balanced against the casino’s current investment in its private cloud architecture. “The question is: How long will it take us to get there? It ends up being a hybrid model. At some point in the future, a certain amount of stuff will remain on premises and a large amount of stuff will be off premises . . . because of a lack of space.”

We sat down with Macomber to find out why enterprise hybrid cloud adoption may gain steam in 2018. Check out our video conversation above.

For more on this topic, check out our hybrid cloud strategy guide.

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Lauren Horwitz

Lauren Horwitz is the managing editor of Cisco.com, where she covers the IT infrastructure market and develops content strategy. Previously, Horwitz was a senior executive editor in the Business Applications and Architecture group at TechTarget;, a senior editor at Cutter Consortium, an IT research firm; and an editor at the American Prospect, a political journal. She has received awards from American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), a min Best of the Web award and the Kimmerling Prize for best graduate paper for her editing work on the journal article "The Fluid Jurisprudence of Israel's Emergency Powers.”