Organisations are now beginning to realise that there is no singular universal hybrid IT solution and that to meet the needs of their stakeholders, they must embrace a variety of technologies. As the role of hybrid cloud is growing in importance, here are some key trends that will change hybrid cloud in 2017 and beyond.

Organisations are turning to managed services

Companies are increasingly using hybrid cloud as a managed service platform to achieve a consistent application experience, regardless of the underlying infrastructure. As cloud adoption increases, the industry is moving beyond self-service portals for provisioning infrastructure to software based managed services platforms.

These automated, software-driven managed services have consistent Service Level Agreements (SLA), regardless of workload deployment models across public, private, and vendor clouds, as well as seamless workload portability and automated migration.  They also provide governance, risk, and compliance assurance across the user base and deployment model.

Cloud workloads are being automated above the orchestration layer

Cloud services have typically concentrated on automating the orchestration layer. However, as needs evolve, organisations are looking at integration above the orchestration layer to automate the whole application deployment process across any cloud infrastructure.

This speeds up initial deployment and ongoing DevOps integration; it simplifies application management and accelerates delivery of the application owner’s business objectives. However, finding an integration point that will support platform-independent strategies is a challenge.

Abstracted DevOps toolsets enable the selection of a cloud environmentClick To Tweet

Abstracted DevOps toolsets enable the selection of a cloud environment based on individual business requirements and allows for the leveraging of other clouds for future deployments, reducing the risk of vendor lock-in.

To see which best addresses the business requirements of the application one must identify the mechanisms behind toolsets that differentiate them. Self-service provisioning and automation to support public, private, and hybrid cloud-based development teams, is becoming a necessity.

Programmable networks are also powerful enablers of hybrid cloud, allowing new operational sites to be rolled out more quickly. Previously, equipment would be bought, configured and taken to the new site, needing a highly skilled engineer to install it.

Now with generic programmable equipment and cloud applications, the process can be templatised by taking a simple device, putting the intelligence in the cloud and using a lower level engineer to install the equipment and the branch software, all in the cloud.

Container tools are becoming the new platform-as-a-service

Throughout 2017, we’ll also see more widespread adoption of containers, but the transition to a fully containerised world is still a way off. Initially, we’ll see traction in using Kubernetes as a deployment model for more complex workloads.  As support for Docker is variable across public cloud platforms, organisations are not likely to jump to Docker on multi-cloud. They’ll probably choose to use it on a single cloud platform and achieve hybridisation in combination with their on-premise stack.

When adopting Docker and Kubernetes (or similar variants), organisations should make sure they have a clear strategy around image management, network access and security patching, service discovery, and container monitoring.

Network function virtualisation becomes the path to hybrid cloud nirvana

Nirvana in hybrid cloud is where one part of a service is run in a firm’s own data centre; a second part is on public cloud provider A, and the remaining part is in public cloud provider B. The firm is then free to determine where they want any element of the service to run based on performance, availability, privacy, or cost.

A major reason why this has yet to be achieved is that the network elements in these hybrid domains must be stitched together. Some enterprises attempted to use Software-defined networking (SDN) to unite their hybrid environments but discovered this to be very complex.

Network function virtualisation (NFV) promises to be a much easier way of networking together hybrid cloud and hybrid IT environments.

One of NFV’s advantages is that the virtual networking and security appliances it employs allows organisations to maintain control of IP addressing schemes, DNS, and routing choices as they stitch the network together. Firms can treat the cloud as an extension of their own network, using familiar networking technologies, tools, and vendors. This means we’ll see more interest in NFV when cloud-enabling existing networks, and architecting new networks with hybrid cloud in mind.

NFV is also becoming the preferred enabler of containerisation

As containers are dynamic and short-lived, traffic flow is unpredictable. Once started, it needs to be registered in some directory; when it’s ‘killed’, everyone needs to be informed through a service discovery layer and processes that run on the console, using tools like CoreOS.

As containers are dynamic and short-lived, traffic flow is unpredictable.Click To Tweet

The Kubernetes networking model requires containers that communicate with network nodes and one another directly, and that a container sees itself as the same IP that others see it as. In Kubernetes, all containers within a pod share the same IP address and must use the localhost construct to communicate with one another.

These containerisation networking challenges can be approached from Docker networking options, container-centric options, to SDN, and NFV. However, accepting that a greenfield Docker deployment is less likely than a hybrid deployment and the container is to run alongside existing Virtual Machine implementations, the NFV approach is most likely to address containerisation networking challenges.

The rate in which technology is evolving makes it challenging to predict the future, but the adoption of hybrid cloud is clearly on the rise. Despite the numerous challenges that will be met along the way, if done right, it can provide organisations with the ability to alternate between dedicated resources, harnessing the security of a private cloud and the flexibility of public cloud services, thus forming an ideal solution to meet ever increasing IT expectations and demands.