“Hybrid cloud is too much to manage; it’s a mammoth task to integrate multiple platforms. The success of such a management depends on how effectively a subscriber orchestrates the vendor relations and technology integration.”
“Positively, no hybrid cloud! We’re not yet ready to bite that thing.” a senior executive from one of the top three retailers in the ANZ region expressed his point of view about hybrid cloud when I got him talking during a tea break in one of the industry technology symposiums in Sydney, a couple of months back. In fact, what he said was right as long as we ignore the real value of the hybrid-cloud-ecosystem and focus on the additional tasks of integrating two or more cloud service providers (CSP) to deliver the required cloud-landscape for our business. But it’s like losing sight of the forest for the trees. I look at the hybrid cloud through a pragmatic lens as a way for enterprises to mitigate unimaginable and unforeseen impact on their business when they are stuck with one preferred CSP. Following three points should be enough to convey my message.
Too big to fail
This is more of a commercial dimension that every enterprise must consider before embracing the single-cloud-adoption strategy. Today’s leading cloud providers have massive financial backing and impressive business-growth track records but that doesn’t provide them with the immunity from financial disasters. It’s a similar scenario like that of those big banks which were considered too big to fail but then they eventually failed miserably and everyone paid the price for their overconfidence. Yes, it doesn’t happen often though. However, it can happen to any big company and no industry is immune to the financial failure. Enterprises must take a bit of pessimistic approach while embracing the cloud computing. Distributing business critical enterprise workloads between (at least) two distinct cloud environments which are managed by different companies would be a better and safer approach to minimize the impact of the unforeseen financial disasters on their businesses.
The approach would also be advantageous to get better pricing and support from the competing CSPs. A right-sized and well-designed hybrid cloud is seamlessly unified and integrated system that is made of two or more techno-commercially distinct environments for delivering a wide range and massive scale of cloud based services for the business, which would be next to impossible to deliver by a single CSP. The hybrid combination can be private-private, a public-private or a public-public cloud environments which are managed and supported by independent service providers. Due to aggressive cloud adoption approaches and ‘cloud-first’ policies of the enterprises, it has become quite difficult these days to estimate a realistic financial impact on a business because of the unavailability (of one or more) cloud services even if it is for short period of time. So, now imagine the magnitude of the impact on an enterprise due to collapse of their preferred cloud service provider which is hosting all of their business critical workloads.
Is your cloud service provider immune to a financial failure?
A pessimistic answer to this question would encourage devising a realistic hybrid cloud strategy and a pragmatic cloud adoption pace in large enterprises. Do not put all your eggs in one basket.
Not at the mercy of one CSP
The CSPs don’t hesitate going any lengths for retaining their customers by offering free service tiers, placebo service credits, sales-oriented free consulting services and high-level migration assistance. This is more like try-before-you-buy approach and it works well in almost every industry. Many-a-times, the technology, platforms, tools and the governing policies are designed by the CSPs so as to lock the cloud subscribers. Vendor lock-in is the obvious result of such policies even though it may not be sensed by the subscribers while they celebrate their migration to their preferred cloud. Moreover, we are all well aware of the complex PAYG pricing model of the cloud computing services, such as free ‘data-in’ and expensive ‘data-out’. Here the bottom line is to make the subscribers aware that they should not be deprived of better services and competitive pricing options offered by other CSPs when they are stuck with a single preferred CSP. The subscribers should be able to choose and use the best of the services from multiple CSPs at a justified price. I am sure no one will answer with an “affirmative” if I ask –
Does your cloud service provider offer the best of the services in the market at a competitive price?
Do they deliver all the use cases to meet your business needs?
This is a tough cookie. Therefore, a 'balanced cum mix and match' is always better than having just one option. You should always have option B at your disposal when your primary CSP dominates the next pricing review discussion.
Don’t miss–calculate the take-off
On-demand, ubiquitous and massive computing capacity without long term commitment is practically possible only in the ‘cloud-era’. It’s not only liberating large enterprises from their mind-numbing annual capacity planning rituals and a hardware refresh CapEx overheads, but giving ‘wings’ to start-ups without locking their critical funding into IT plumbing. When you devise your IT migration strategy and execute it through transition and transformation phases, ensure you consider more options and work with more than one cloud vendor. If you miss it or underestimate the importance of doing it right for first time, you will find your IT organization in a miserable situation and that will have ripple effects on your overall business health.
Certainly, by no means, a large enterprise could afford to abort and redo everything at that stage, but forced to move forward and take a complete circle to start a fresh again to do it right second time. And redoing everything from scratch is not at all justifiable, no matter how miserable their IT is.
Do it right first time
Have more than one preferred CSPs and engage them as early as possible. Let them have their skin in the game so that you get best of the services at a justified price and devise a ‘fit for business’ hybrid-cloud strategy for your business to avoid circling back to the square one.