Cirba VP: Brexit clears the skies for hybrid cloud

This is a guest post for the Computer Weekly Developer Network blog written by Ayman Gabarin is his capacity as senior vice president for EMEA at cloud infrastructure control software company Cirba.

Gabarin writes as follows…

To say that Brexit is causing confusion is an understatement. One day we’re told that businesses will suffer enormously when the UK leaves the European Union, the next that Brexit can only be good for both the country and its European neighbours.

Despite all the argument and speculation, however, nobody can say with any certainty what the consequences might be and, if there’s one thing business leaders hate, it’s any kind of uncertainty. Especially when it comes to IT and the burgeoning use of public cloud services which despite or, possibly, because they span geopolitical boundaries, will inevitably be affected by the UK’s exit from the EU.

Wrong time, wrong place

In many respects Brexit couldn’t have come at a worse time, as growing numbers of companies look to migrate workloads out of the data centre and onto public cloud platforms, many for the first time. Already grappling with concerns over data security, compliance and availability, many of those companies will have felt they were getting to grips with the issues, only to now be faced with even muddier waters that, because Brexit has yet to happen, are much harder to chart.

Where UK companies, for example, might have felt obliged to use services hosted within the EU in order to meet regulatory requirements, post-Brexit they could be emboldened to look further afield or retreat entirely and host applications only in the UK.

Likewise, European businesses may not want to continue using providers or work with partners based in the UK after the break, with widely differing opinions as to exactly what compliance standards will apply. Added to which, we’re already seeing currency fluctuations with yet more upheaval on its way as other European countries go the polls. So much so that some businesses could find it all too stressful and react by bringing already migrated workloads back in-house, where they at least have full control over their destiny.

The most likely scenario, however, will be for companies to take a more pragmatic approach to their use of the cloud. Instant scalability and pay-as-you-go services offered by Amazon, Microsoft and others are big incentives. Therefore, most will adopt a hybrid strategy, mixing public platforms with on-premise infrastructure, to not just provide a safe harbour from which to navigate choppy Brexit waters, but better equip the business to cope with future storms.

A growing trend already, Brexit and the uncertainty that comes with it, can only serve to focus minds and encourage greater commitment to the hybrid cloud model. More importantly, it will also motivate businesses to look more closely at where they host and how they manage application workloads in a hybrid world.

Simple cloud application choices, once upon a time ago

Before the word Brexit even entered the language, organisations were mostly challenged with binary decisions, such as what application workloads to migrate to the cloud closely followed by how best to monitor and manage workloads once they left the data centre. Post-Brexit, those issues are becoming a lot more pressing, further complicated by the desire to adopt a multi-cloud hosting strategy and migrate workloads in, out and between services within the cloud.

The cloud marketplace is also becoming a lot more diverse, increasingly dominated by a handful of major providers but, between them, offering a bewildering array of services. As a result of all this, the IT department is having to shift away from provisioning and operating infrastructure, to acting as a service broker, with a holistic understanding dynamic application requirements and the ever changing characteristics of all corporate infrastructure, both internally hosted and public cloud such as cost models, technical capabilities, and security options.

Application requirements vs. infrastructure options

Fortunately much of the information needed to make these decisions is available in the applications and platforms involved, waiting to be unlocked using predictive analytic models designed to evaluate detailed application requirements against the capabilities, availability and cost profiles of the different infrastructure options. Indeed it is only through deep analysis of all these variables that the best hosting environment can be chosen. Spreadsheet models and public cloud costing tools are a poor substitute and companies that fail to invest in the ability to perform this due diligence are taking a huge risk, and not just when it comes to dealing with the fallout of Brexit.

Change is one of the few constants faced by business IT teams and the best defence is a complete understanding of the hybrid environment in which modern IT systems need to operate backed up by investment in data-driven analytic tools, to not just react to change, but mitigate against the uncertainty that comes with it.

Editorial comment

Gabarin’s comments are wide ranging and (arguably) grounded in a sense of reality having worked with firms facing real cloud application workload data challenges. He makes these points, obviously, because Cirba’s Densify product is looking to address some of the operational issues here. It uses predictive analytics and an understanding of cloud platforms to do what the company claims is more than just monitoring and checking against Service Level Agreements (SLAs). The proposition from Cirba is that this technology can enable IT teams to become service brokers in their own right, whether affected by the imminent fallout of Brexit or simply looking to survive and grow in the wider global economy.