Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Where is the Hybrid Cloud Adoption?

Since the early days of the enterprise cloud adoption discussion the concept of Hybrid Cloud, combining the control and security of the private cloud with the breadth and economics of the public cloud, has been a topic.  Cloudbursting emerged as one of the early, highly touted use cases for cloud, and I was one of those consultants adding to the hype.  Yet today with valid reasons for adopting Hybrid Cloud, where are the adopters?

I believe there are several reasons Hybrid Cloud has yet to take off including:
  • Offerings - the offerings in the market fall well short of what companies need because none provide any orchestration, policy management or governance tools.  Buyers need a way to specify the environment blueprint to automate the provisioning at the provider.  The environment needs to be  configured precisely as needed in an automated fashion and this must include the ability to specify the location based on the location of other virtual machines and storage.  Policy management across providers, applications and data are necessary to ensure data is protected, business rules are enforced, and costs are effectively managed.  And without governance tools in place administration and change management become ad-hoc to a large degree.  There are tools available to help, but without strong provider integration the tools are merely best efforts.
  • Critical Mass - there are companies who are using Hybrid Cloud successfully today, but they rarely talk about it.  Whether its to maintain a low profile to the public and shareholders in case the bet doesn't pay off, to protect competitive advantage, or simply because they don't feel others should benefit from their investment we have very few stories to learn from and retell.  Most of IT progress is predicated on following the leaders.  CRM, SFA, ERP, MDM, eCommerce, Web 2.0, Mobility, M2M, Analytics.  All of these technologies are pioneered by visionaries and derided by the status quo until a tipping point is reached after which the critical mass of thinking drives widespread adoption.  However in Hybrid Cloud the benefits of sharing the stories in the form of larger, more robust Public Clouds at lower costs points will benefit the early adopters.  Telling the stories will yield dividends.  There is very little competitive threat of the followers suddenly catching on and accelerating into a pioneer.
  • Risk vs Reward - we know many CIO's have no interest in doing cloud let alone leveraging public clouds because they don't see the reward for taking the risk. Risk is nothing more than a euphemism for fear: fear of failure, fear of losing control, and fear of personal risk. Although all the experts say it's the only way to go and a fundamental part of transforming IT into a business services organization, cloud isn't easy.  And anything that isn't easy is rife with risk.  Therefore it remains easier to follow along at a snails pace talking up the desire to leverage Public Cloud resources in a hybrid model than actually take any steps.  Often these organizations are characterized by having a less than robust private cloud and have done no organized research into making a Hybrid Cloud reality. 
  • Learning Curve - learning anything new takes time, and with an expansive domain such as cloud becoming an expert seems impossible.  Focusing on private cloud enables organizations to build skills related to cloud and move up the learning curve at reduced risk because there is no threat of losing control.  However Private Clouds provide a false sense of accomplishment because the end of their road is rarely much further than mass virtualization, well short of the value propositions of cloud.
  • Business Value - the concept of cheaper, better, faster has made inroads at the virtual machine level, but few in the business understand how Hybrid Cloud can drive real business value and thus are allowing IT more leeway than necessary.  The last thing many IT leaders want is a business to expect the deployment of entire environments within minutes, scale up and scale down within minutes, and frankly deployment of entire new capabilities in minutes.  It makes IT look slow and incapable.  Slowly but surely IT executives are getting their arms wrapped around the idea that Hybrid Cloud is an enabler, but at the same time they have to gain comfort with giving up control.  
Just as cloud isn't easy, neither is transforming IT or being an IT executive at this point in time.  Control has been the hallmark risk mitigation technique of IT for 40+ years and is unlikely to change soon.  And why is this the case?  Because the business wanted it that way.  Consider it the unintended consequence.


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