Six Questions To Ask When Evaluating Hybrid Cloud Solutions

By Patrick Moorhead - March 7, 2020

Hybrid cloud is hot right now. Nearly every IT organization claims to have a solution deployed, but very few actually do. Instead, they have a private cloud with some level of integration with multiple cloud instances. In the next few articles, we will attempt to spell out what makes a hybrid cloud environment hybrid, and some guiding principles for an IT organization to follow when evaluating the solutions from solutions vendors.

What is (and what isn’t) hybrid cloud?

Before going too far, let's level-set on what constitutes a hybrid cloud. Equally important, let’s establish what a hybrid cloud environment is not.

Hybrid cloud is more than a combination of private and public cloud(s). It is more than the ability to burst a workload from on-prem to off-prem on demand. Hybrid cloud is the unified provisioning and managing of resources, with services delivered in and consumed in a consistent manner across multiple environments-be it a public cloud, a private cloud, or the edge.

By definition, the private-public cloud deployment implemented by so many IT organizations is not a hybrid cloud environment, since the provisioning and management of resources is performed through multiple consoles and "panes of glass." This proliferation of multiple clouds for various services with multiple provisioning and management tools contributes to the cloud fatigue often experienced by IT- and the resulting repatriation of apps and data from the cloud.

How did we create this cloud fatigue?

When one considers the proliferation of data across an enterprise and its criticality in driving the business, one better understands the importance of getting the edge-to-cloud-to-core datacenter right. With such an emphasis on transforming organizations and increasing their organizational, operational and business efficiency, "cloud" has been the default answer. Spin up a cloud instance or service to deliver an instant "on" for the business, resulting in some gains.

Until one proverbial morning, when IT woke up and realized an incredible amount of budget and resources were going toward supporting these "clouds" and not the business. Further, data was being generated and stored in the wild without the necessary protections. IT had become a cloud brokering organization at a time it needed to be a stronger partner to the business units utilizing those cloud services.

If the above sounds too crazy to be true, it's not. When enterprise organizations began the cloud journey, simplicity, agility and cost were the main drivers. Now, those very same drivers fuel the repatriation efforts of many IT organizations, as they try to bring down costs and gain control of this multi-cloud, shadow IT world. 

Why hybrid cloud?

In a true hybrid cloud environment, the IT headaches associated with multi-cloud management are significantly reduced. From the infrastructure to provisioning to the management of workloads, data and environments, a hybrid cloud substantially reduces the resource and cost burdens on IT.

While these benefits of hybrid cloud may sound too broad and basic, think about them in application. Native integration of public and private cloud environments enables the mobility of data and applications seamlessly, with minimal touch, to increase business agility and reduce the burden on IT. Automated provisioning and workload balancing free up IT organizations, enabling them to become more like the business technology consultants they were meant to be. Additionally, automated data management reduces a considerable cost and burden on both IT and the business.

In a time where perhaps there's a bit of cynicism around the cost of the cloud, an equal amount of skepticism exists around true hybrid cloud. Most cloud-weary IT executives look at true hybrid cloud as some nirvana that can't be achieved. This is not the case. Companies like Dell Technologies are delivering on this vision, and its portfolio of products and services should be considered. To learn more about what the company is doing in this space with products like VMware Cloud Foundation, VxRail and its infrastructure portfolio, read this research paper Moor Insights & Strategy recently published.

Questions to ask when evaluating hybrid cloud solutions

When talking with solutions providers and evaluating products, it's easy to get caught up in a lot of the minutiae of hybrid cloud technologies and lose sight of the big picture. While the technology behind any hybrid cloud solution is essential, if that technology can't deliver on six principles, it doesn't matter. Those six principles are:

  1. Simplicity: Does the evaluated solution simplify IT operations and reduce the headcount dedicated to deployment and management?
  2. Agility: Will internal customers realize greater business agility through this platform? Will IT become more responsive to the needs of the business?
  3. Cost: Will this hybrid-cloud solution reduce my direct and indirect costs in a meaningful way?
  4. Openness: Is the organization deploying a hybrid-cloud solution that is open and flexible?
  5.  Autonomy & Security: Can the hybrid-cloud solution support my IT organization's management and orchestration capabilities across on-prem and off-prem, and across cloud-native and legacy, securely?
  6. Efficiency: Is it easy to purchase, deploy and scale the hybrid cloud solution? 

If the solution and company being evaluated can't answer each of these questions with a yes, you should stop and consider other options. A true hybrid cloud environment is achievable through companies like Dell Technologies and solutions like VCF on VxRail, where full-stack lifecycle management is automated.  

Closing thoughts

Hybrid cloud isn't just whatever a marketing department decides to call a product. It's very real, with tangible benefits to all parts of an enterprise - the business unit, operations and IT. Simply put, hybrid cloud is the unified provisioning and managing of resources, with services delivered and consumed in a consistent manner across multiple environments - public cloud, private cloud or the edge.

While it’s easy to get enamored with a lot of the elements of hybrid cloud solutions, remember three things:

  1. It all starts with infrastructure. Infrastructure is the cornerstone of any hybrid cloud environment. Even if this infrastructure is consumed “as-a-Service,” the quality of that service is what matters in the end. Make the right investments in infrastructure and it will pay off in the end.
  2. Infrastructure that is optimized with a hybrid cloud stack is vital in achieving the provisioning and management efficiency gains that make hybrid cloud work. Look for companies that can deliver optimized stacks, from delivery to support.
  3. There are six simple questions to ask when evaluating hybrid cloud solutions. A “no” answer to any of these should cause a serious reconsideration of the solution being evaluated. 

Don’t compromise. True hybrid is achievable. Learn more about this by reading Moor Insights & Strategy’s most recent research, here.

Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.