Hybrid cloud solutions: Hype or Holy Grail?
By Taylor Man, executive vice president, new business division, NTT Com Asia 07-Mar-2012
We have all heard of cloud computing -- shared computing resources available over the "cloud," or the Internet -- but the concept of the hybrid cloud is relatively popular among enterprises as it provides an optimal mix of flexibility and security. Hybrid cloud provides the much needed flexibility to deploy both public and private cloud resources for respective applications, while giving the elasticity of cloud computing along with the security of dedicated infrastructure.
When it comes to shortlisting and deciding which cloud service provider (CSP) to deploy or manage their IT functions in the cloud however, the task becomes more complex. Many enterprises and companies focus primarily on the cloud services while neglecting the supporting infrastructure and resources which are fundamental elements that affect the qualities of any cloud solution.
Closing the public and private gap
From a more holistic viewpoint, a complete one-stop cloud solution should be viewed as one which includes global data center support and low-latency network connectivity, in addition to compute resources such as memory and CPU, along with value-added services such as managed services. The definitions and benefits of both public and private cloud technologies are well known -- resources are provided in matter of minutes and can theoretically scale infinitely, etc. -- but there needs to be an optimal mix to address both security and reliability concerns.
While the trend toward cloud computing seems inevitable, enterprises still harbor concerns. NTT has observed that enterprise customers list scalability, security, privacy, availability, and regulatory compliance as their key considerations and concerns on the cloud. Security is an especially important factor as enterprises are entrusting their most confidential and private data to a third-party vendor, which is a primary reason why many enterprises do not consider public cloud for their usage.
Here is a common scenario: An enterprise might use a public cloud service to provide additional resources on demand to the marketing department for events, for example, but continue to maintain an in-house physical server for operational or to house confidential customer data. In this way, the hybrid approach provides the scalability and cost-effectiveness that a public cloud computing environment offers without exposing mission-critical applications and data to third-party vulnerabilities.
The issue of trust
It is no surprise that with their business at stake, enterprises are looking for trusted cloud partners that have higher standards and are able to provide the assurance of end-to-end SLAs that other service providers may not be able to share for various reasons. The capability to deliver a one-stop solution is another element highly valued by enterprises, which often includes telco expertise and a suite of comprehensive value-added serviced such as managed service.
Costs are obviously critical to all businesses, which is where cloud technologies shine. Features such as pay-as-you-go pricing and online management tools allow all enterprise cloud users to provision and deploy servers and virtual machines to support business applications flexibly, while controlling their costs very effectively.