Cloud computing has provided and will continue providing businesses the flexibility and efficiencies that they need to grow and meet the demands of all users. It provides the necessary infrastructure, software and platforms to meet the requirements of all manner of organisations. But the question remains as to which model is best — public or private cloud?

Hybrid cloud is positioned to address this argument as it allows users to get the best out of both worlds. Strictly speaking, the term hybrid refers to creating something else by combining two different elements. In the case of cloud, the premise remains the same, but there is no all-encompassing definition — it means different things to different people. However, the right mix — whether that’s heritage on-premises hosting and colocation, or leveraging services within dynamic public cloud — will be different for each and every business.

Many of the initial barriers around adoption of hybrid cloud, such as security and costs, have been addressed and businesses are now looking to get the most from their investment. But, what is on the horizon and how is cloud adoption going to occur in the future?

What makes hybrid cloud an effective choice?

Hybrid cloud can be used in many ways. It’s a good platform for building confidence in cloud, developing a transformation programme on and carrying it out. In the same vein, it may be a deployment model that must be used for compliance, regulatory, risk, latency or data sovereignty issues. Regardless of intent, the first and potentially the most important step for any organisation is to define their cloud aspirations.

This can be done in several ways, including conducting a cloud readiness assessment, which determines an organisation’s current state the steps needed to start the journey. Only then can a business formulate a cloud adoption transformation programme.

What are the public cloud vendors doing?

The public cloud market is dominated by a few large hyperscale players but what are they doing to pave the way for a hybrid future?

  • Microsoft Azure

In 2017 Microsoft launched Azure Stack as the answer to the hybrid cloud conundrum. Azure Stack is an extension of Azure, allowing users to run an Azure environment from within their own premises or third-party datacentre. The benefits include pay-as-you-go pricing, and the ability to develop applications in-house in an Azure environment that’s the same as public Azure. In a nutshell, users can create a private cloud with public cloud capabilities.

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS has been supplying large-scale public cloud to the market for more than 10 years. In 2016 it partnered with VMware for the purpose of allowing VMware’s customers to burst into the cloud from their virtualised environments. But AWS has since taken the move to hybrid further with the recent announcement around EC2 being able to run on-premises with the Snowball Edge device, a hard drive for moving workloads between AWS cloud and client datacentres.

Additionally, in 2018, the company took things even further by announcing AWS Outposts. This service consists of fully managed and configurable compute and storage racks built on AWS hardware. It enables customers to run compute and storage on premises, while also easily connecting to the rest of the company’s cloud services.

  • Google Cloud Platform

Launched in 2008, the Google Cloud Platform provides users with a suite of modular cloud services. Built on the legacy of its search engine and email platform, Google Cloud made its official foray into the hybrid space earlier this year. The company extended its container and microservices technologies (like Kubernetes) from being used on the Google Cloud Platform, to being used on in-house servers or edge devices.

More recently, Google has announced Anthos, its hybrid cloud management product which allows enterprises to use a single dashboard to manage all applications, regardless of whether they are in a private data centre, Google Cloud, AWS or Azure.

Looking to the future

As vendors continue to develop their services and barriers disappear, hybrid cloud adoption is only going to increase. In fact, Gartner suggests that by 2020, 90% of businesses will have adopted a hybrid infrastructure.

Technology will also continue to play a leading factor in the evolution of hybrid cloud. The  incorporation of automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence into cloud platforms will influence, not only the deployment of new technologies and services, but also the way in which the environment is managed and maintained.

Vendor collaboration will also feature strongly in the hybrid future. We’re already seeing this happen; just consider cloud vendor partner programmes such as the Cloud Solution Provider program from Microsoft or the AWS Partner Network.

Regardless of which model or vendor organisations choose to adopt, one thing is for sure; the future of hybrid cloud will most likely be focused around outcomes. For organisations, this means effectively measuring the benefit realisation of hybrid cloud and ensuring the organisation is on track in terms of costs and objectives. This is where the support of the right cloud provider will be critical. Only with the support of the right partner, can businesses optimise their cloud investment and achieve the desired outcomes in an effective, secure and compliant way.