10 May 2021 — News

Hybrid or multi? What’s the future of the cloud?

Cloud computing is the single biggest opportunity for enterprises. While cloud is not new, it still presents a massive opportunity for enterprises when used appropriately. To be clear, not all roads end with cloud. Put a different way, cloud computing is not the right solution for every use case and application. 

Yet cloud provides the opportunity for enterprises to catapult their standing while addressing the ever-changing business requirements. The way customers engage with companies and how they operate their businesses is evolving at an increasingly rapid pace. Cloud presents an opportunity to address those challenges.

Moving up the stack

At the same time, enterprises are overwhelmed with the complexity of technology while trying to do everything themselves. Attempting to be an expert at everything is a losing strategy. Enterprises need leverage. This is where cloud computing comes in.

Cloud creates leverage for the enterprise by providing mature alternatives for enterprises. No longer do enterprises need to do everything themselves. Cloud-based solutions delivered through software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) are common ways that enterprises leverage the cloud.

 According to the State of Application Strategy report49% of respondents, nearly half, are accelerating public cloud deployments. 46% are accelerating SaaS-based deployments. 

Where do hybrid and multi-cloud fit in?

Within cloud architectures, enterprises often leverage both hybrid and multi-cloud solutions. They are related but different. Enterprises engage multi-cloud through the use of similar services from multiple cloud providers, commonly IaaS. Typically, there is one provider that serves as the primary provider that the enterprise builds expertise with and leverages buying power. The enterprise would then engage secondary cloud providers for their expertise with specific functions.

Hybrid cloud is the use of both public and private cloud-based services. Today, 80 percent of organizations have a hybrid cloud strategy. Enterprises often use public cloud for those use-cases that fit best. However, there may be constraints that prevent an application, data set or company from operating their production workload in the public cloud. Most commonly this is due to regulatory, compliance or privacy reasons. In those cases, the enterprise sets up a private cloud that operates like the public cloud but is physically in a location that specific to the needs. One downside to private cloud is that resources are not shared with other companies and therefore, the enterprise cannot benefit from shared cost advantages. Beyond regulatory, compliance and privacy requirements, one upside to private cloud is that it is dedicated for the enterprise’s use. And due to physically being geo-located near consumers of the services, latency is often no longer an issue.

Looking further afield

Enterprises need to evaluate where best to leverage hybrid, multi-cloud and cloud in general. As applications are modernized to meet the changing business demands, IT organizations look at moving further away from managing the underlying infrastructure and toward more valuable functions that are core to their business.

48% of organizations list cloud or cloud migration as one of their top-3 initiatives, up from 40% the prior year.

Two additional ways that enterprises are looking at modern architectures are containers and serverless. Containerized workloads provide a degree of portability for the application across various resources as needed. Serverless takes this a step further by focusing on the platform or function versus having to manage the underlying infrastructure resources. For example, a serverless database allows the enterprise to develop applications against a database without having to worry about the underlying compute, storage and process requirements to support the database server itself.

As companies look to transform their business and modernize their IT investments, cloud provides flexibility that is often needed for modern applications. The combination of SaaS, IaaS, hybrid and multi-cloud provide a bevy of options to meet the unique demands of any given application workload.

Author: Tim Crawford

Tim is an internationally renowned CIO thought leader in the areas of IT transformation, Cloud Computing and Data Analytics. He has a broad experience that takes a pragmatic approach to the section of business and technology. Tim has served as CIO and other senior IT leadership roles with global organizations and is also the host of the "CIO In The Know” Podcast.