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Hybrid cloud mainstream, but seamless operations hard to achieve

Survey by 451 Research finds most organisations use a mix of on-premise and cloud locations, but truly seamless hybrid cloud operations are very difficult to achieve

Hybrid cloud is mainstream. Most organisations operate across public, private and hybrid locations, but with varying degrees of interoperability. Meanwhile, most have a strategy for, or plan to deliver, seamless operations across hybrid cloud environments.

Those are the findings of a survey by analyst 451 Research, which questioned more than 1,500 IT professionals across Europe.

The survey found that most (84%) of those questioned operate in private locations and public cloud service environments, while only 16% said they focus on a single location.

Of those that operate in hybrid cloud fashion – in their own datacentres and public cloud services – most (38%) migrate data between the different environments, 22% achieve little or no interoperability between them, and 24% said they have seamless operations across public and private locations.

451 Research defines hybrid cloud as the existence of seamless operations between private and public cloud locations. Of the professionals it questioned who intend to try to achieve this, the largest proportion (38%) have a formal strategy in place, while 37% are in the planning stage and 25% have begun pilot projects.

The researchers found that organisations vary in how they are deploying services to the cloud and hybrid cloud operations.

The biggest proportion (37%) are taking a “cloud first” approach, in which new applications are the ones deployed to the cloud.

Meanwhile, equal numbers (22%) are simply taking existing applications and running them in the cloud or reworking them to some extent for cloud/hosted operations.

A minority of 16% said they do not currently deploy off-premise at all.

The top three reasons for cloud and hybrid cloud deployment are – not surprisingly – to improve speed of deployment of apps and services (51.5%), to reduce costs through competitive cloud pricing (37%), and to enhance business agility (35%).

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But the report also talked about the challenges to hybrid cloud working, especially in the sense meant by 451, as seamless operations.

Without giving figures for respondents’ perceptions of these, it highlighted difficulties in managing cloud security and monitoring different workloads in different states, in transit and at rest and across potentially several locations.

It also pointed to the operational complexity of managing multiple cloud platforms. “Moving to a truly hybrid environment – where clouds interoperate seamlessly as part of a single business function – is easier to describe than to implement,” it said. “The single pane of glass that provides an operational perspective is often more theoretical than practical.”

And although many respondents said they are going towards cloud operations with new apps and service, the reality is that many cannot do that every time. “Enterprise firms are not startups,” said the report. “They have established infrastructure that needs to be replicated. If applications, databases, directories and line-of-business functions cannot be migrated, there is inherent cost in redevelopment and delay in implementation.”

Although the survey found that the majority of those questioned plan to retain most applications on-site, there are clear favourites for migration to cloud/hybrid cloud.

Chief among these are: virtual desktop and mobility management (30%), storage (30%), analytics and business intelligence (27.5%), databases/data warehousing (26%) and applications development (25.5%).

Finally, 451 asked about “most important” suppliers – now and in two years’ time – and found Microsoft way out in front (33%/35%) with a projected increase in use, while Dell EMC (10%/7%), VMware and Cisco (both 8%/6%), IBM (7%/4%) and HPE (7%/5%) all looked like their influence would wane in a hybrid cloud world.

Meanwhile, AWS appeared set for a big leap in importance, with 7% of those questioned saying they use it now and 17% expecting to do so in two years’ time.

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