How to combine your clouds

How can a hybrid cloud be created, and do Middle Eastern enterprises have the skills to do it?

Tags: Cloud computingEquinix (www.equinix.com/en_US/)Gartner Inc. (www.gartner.com/technology/home.jsp)Huawei Technologies CompanyIBM (www.ibm.com)Red Hat Incorporation
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How to combine your clouds
By  Tom Paye Published  July 23, 2014

However, the hybrid cloud can get a lot more complicated than that, according to Mohamed Sayed, SGI cloud computing leader at IBM. He says that hybrid is all about combining at least two clouds (private or public), keeping them as separate entities but ensuring that they are still bound together. And if implemented properly, he says that the advantages of hybrid cloud are manifold.

“Such a composition expands deployment options for cloud services, allowing IT organisations to use public cloud computing resources to meet temporary needs. Hybrid cloud solution provides variable costs, flexibility, scalability, and on-demand availability inherent in cloud services, while also addressing the compliance, security, and performance concerns of financial institutions,” he explains.

All hype and no hope?
While it might sound ideal to be able to leverage such technologies, the promise of actually achieving this is still a long way off, according to Mahapatra, who describes setting up a hybrid cloud as complicated. He says that most of the large vendors claim to have hybrid cloud offerings, but that we are still a long way off actually seeing any deployments, simply because of the lack of maturity in the market on how to orchestrate between public and private clouds. And Alessandro Perilli, the newly appointed general manager of Rad Hat’s Open Hybrid Cloud Programme, largely agrees with this stance.

“If you look at what hybrid means for many organisations out there today, that are embracing cloud for the first time now, it means mostly concurring consumption of private and public. And most of the time, this is completely disjointed and disconnected to the point that you have organisations that have one group that operates on a private cloud, and another group that operates on a public cloud. The two groups don’t even talk to each other, and they don’t even use the same tools,” he says.

“There is this situation where you have concurrent consumption but it’s totally disjointed. And there’s this desire to add this single pane of glass that can unify the management of the different pieces. We’re going to the hybrid scenario but right now there are a lot of people that are still on concurrent consumption.”

At a high level, however, Perilli believes that it is possible to start thinking about hybrid clouds now, so that when the technologies mature, and skills become more readily available, enterprises will be able to start leveraging hybrid cloud. When talking about what a reference architecture for hybrid cloud could look like, he says that the first important component is the cloud platform — the thing powered by hypervisors and is hosting the applications, workloads and virtual machines.

“The cloud platform, in a hybrid reference architecture, must be aligned on both sides of the equation. The private cloud and public cloud need to be identical or they need to be close enough in terms of APIs that when you move a workload from one to the other, there is consistency,” he says.

“The second part of the architecture is this unification engine. Gartner calls it a cloud management platform that controls the underlying cloud engines and leverages the API or the integration point, but in the private cloud, not the public cloud, so that you can articulate and orchestrate the movement of catalogue options from one side to another, or simply can enforce the same identical policy in both environments without you having to write it twice.”

Again, though, as Mahapatra says, we are still a long way off from achieving this kind of interoperability. However, this is silver lining to this — IBM’s Sayed explains that the vendor is currently working with a number of customers who are looking to explore hybrid clouds. And as case studies start cropping up, more enterprises will no doubt look into what they’re capable of. For now, though, hybrid cloud is just a pipe dream.

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