Hybrid Cloud Needs Thought Leadership


I read this Microsoft white paper (The Economics of the Cloud) at the end of last year and wrote an internal email. I and read it again recently and thought I should publish my thoughts. Microsoft is going to work with its 600,000+ partner network to consult with customers and determine their roadmap of consumption and orchestration of both private and public cloud technologies. Microsoft and its partners will begin to help customers architect a roadmap, with appropriate decision points and metrics so customers can measure, manage, and make decisions about how to leverage IaaS, PaaS (Azure), and SaaS (Live, Office 365) both publicly and privately over time.

The industry tends to think about a customer’s journey to cloud computing as a straight line: consuming appropriate virtualization, management, security technologies, etc to increase internal efficiencies,  improve SLAs and agility, and accelerate time to market. Along this journey customers will access more and more public resources…culminating in a “hybrid cloud” scenario. I believe that future private / hybrid cloud computing models will be very fluid and dynamic, with 2 important implications:

  1. A customer’s cloud is their cloud, not Amazon's or Microsoft’s or VMware's or ATT's. Regardless of where or how the computing gets done, it’s still the customer’s cloud.
  2. The customer’s ability to change the mix of consumption of  private and public resources will become a competitive differentiator. I believe hybrid clouds are more about the capability to change how computing gets done via orchestration and consumption of private and public resources. For example – where as the customer’s business needs change so does the mix of private and public orchestration and consumption of public resources. The mix will ebb and flow.  

There are also implications for customers on the journey to a cloud computing model. The “destination” for customers will be higher levels of flexibility and fluidity to consume computing from private and public platforms. The key factor will be the customer’s ability to shift mix and transition the source of their resources. In order to shift mix and orchestrate, customer’s will need to understand how their services come together, what metrics to pay attention to (cost, utilization, SLA, responsiveness), and what triggers indicate that a mix shift is required.

There is an opportunity for cloud technology vendors and system integrators to provide thought leadership in this area, offering to partner with customers to help them “instrument” their IT operations for correct utilization of private and public computing services and resources. Technology and services vendors should establish a baseline of what services are being consumed at all layers (Infrastructure, App Platform, End User) and help customers understand what triggers exist that would indicate a change from a private to public (or vice versa) shift in resource mix.

Though leading vendors should help customers develop a model to orchestrate the array of private and public services in order accelerate a customer to a higher level of operational excellence, fundamentally improving the customer's ability to change mix, and deliver on the needs of the business.

Let me know your thoughts.

- PG