How to Find Hybrid Harmony in the Data Center
Our digital infrastructure is heading full speed toward a cloud-enabled future, and we may be approaching it faster than we first thought. Gartner projects that by 2018, enterprise IT spending will surpass $3.2 trillion, up from $2.7 trillion in 2013. Cloud spending will make up a significant portion of this new spend.
Many enterprises already have chosen to consolidate their infrastructure and migrate toward cloud platforms in order to reduce their IT operating costs. The so-called ‘hybrid cloud’ is becoming a reality, as organizations converge legacy and cloud apps with in-house and outsourced IT.
In theory, the hybrid cloud is a perfect harmony. But in practice it is not a cloud in itself. What that term really refers to is a new approach to networking that combines public and/or private clouds with the enterprise’s legacy IT infrastructure that may exist on and/or off premises.
The more enterprises seek this multi-cloud environment, the more they rely on service providers to bridge public and private infrastructure. This makes hybrid cloud a network strategy, and one that ideally can be built and supported by service providers on behalf of enterprises.
The multi-cloud landscape has created a significant opportunity for service providers and connectivity providers to mature their offerings and offer value-added services to enterprise customers. In doing so, these providers must navigate the complexities of forging these hybrid IT environments, which is why they’re increasingly looking for reliable platforms – and finding them in connectivity-rich data centers.
Laying a Hybrid Foundation
So, what makes a hybrid approach to the cloud so appealing in the first place? While service providers continue to work with their preferred public cloud providers’ private connect solutions (eg Microsoft ExpressRoute or AWS Direct Connect), they still need to build services for their customers’ unique needs. After all, not all applications are built for the cloud, and some customers may be reluctant to abandon hardware entirely.
To facilitate this transition, some data centers are maturing their offerings with specific networking solutions that support service providers’ transition to hybrid IT. By operating switching infrastructure and supporting the necessary network capacity, these data centers enable private access to the private connect nodes to the major cloud service providers via a virtual VLAN. By supporting hybrid IT in this way, forward-looking data centers have enabled service providers to become the frontrunners of hybrid environments.
Ultimately, the value of aggregating customer demand is that several virtual connections can be made over just one physical connection, making it easier for service providers to manage those connections, generating greater cost efficiency and helping provide service guarantees on these connections.
Creating the Best of Both Worlds for Customers
By providing direct access as part of a hybrid infrastructure offering, cloud providers take away one of the biggest concerns enterprises have with the public cloud – that it isn’t as secure or reliable as private connections, which are known for improving network performance, availability, security, service guarantees and bandwidth.
Additionally, in a hybrid environment, a service provider could connect multiple customers to their preferred public cloud offering or connect a single customer to multiple clouds. For example, multiple customers could be connected to Amazon or a single customer could be connected to Amazon and Microsoft, depending on their needs.
This ability to offer both options – public and private connections – makes cloud providers a magnet for more customers. Choice is important: customers should be able to use the private connect solution of their preferred cloud provider. The flexibility that enterprises gain from these connections – the ability to shift business critical workloads – will generate customer loyalty.
A Multi-Cloud Future
When it comes to public and private cloud solutions working in conjunction with each other, ‘hybrid harmony’ isn’t really that far away. At the moment, service providers generally opt for one cloud vendor – they choose a “mother cloud”. But eventually service providers will serve multiple clouds and vendors for each enterprise.
The challenge of the hybrid infrastructure, however, is that enterprises expect service providers to meet their capacity demands, without sacrificing the real-time performance. The problem for service providers is one of expectations – enterprises are accustomed to private cloud services, which offer a reliable, low latency, high throughput connection.
For this reason, some specific networking solutions are needed to future-proof this service delivery model. Collaboration and cross-connections are what fuel the hybrid infrastructure. Enterprises and service providers want access to complex hybrid IT infrastructure, and data centers make it all possible. In addition to providing direct access to a ready pool of potential enterprise customers that co-locate with them, data centers house communities of interest – clusters of cloud providers, systems integrators, carriers and other service providers – that facilitate transactions and interactions.
New technology offered by data centers enables enterprises to embrace the hybrid IT landscape and, finally, realize the full potential of the cloud.
This post was originally published on WIRED Innovation Insights.