The cloud, in all of its forms, is making a lot of noise in the world of enterprise IT, but what would we find if the full extent of the booming public, private and hybrid cloud landscape was evaluated for the enterprise cloud market?

We can begin to find answers in a recent survey conducted, on behalf of Nutanix, by Vanson Bourne. Mining insightful data from more than 2,300 companies across the globe, the Enterprise Cloud Index found – among many interesting data points – that over a third (36%) of enterprise workloads are currently running in the cloud. Moreover, this figure is predicted to increase to over half of all workloads within the next one to two years.

Public is not a panacea

Companies are increasingly aware of the benefits they can reap from the scalability and pay-per-use economics that the public cloud provides, but they are also waking up to the realisation that not all clouds are equal. The decision to switch to a blend of clouds is hardly surprising: not only are these companies now benefiting as they house each app they deploy in the best possible environment, but this application-centric approach to IT is also going a long way to avoid dreaded vendor and platform lock-in issues.

However, lock-in is but one issue, in fact it is one of a number of reasons why companies are looking to deploy their workloads across multiple clouds. Increased workload mobility is certainly a key feature of hybrid cloud, and the financial and technical benefits of being able to easily move workloads between clouds is illustrated in the Vanson Bourne research, where mobility was ranked highly by respondents as one of the benefits, even ranking far higher than cost and security.

Building hybrid from the ground up

The move to the hybrid cloud might not be as smooth a transition as companies would like, not because switching is an entirely difficult process but simply because, as the survey discovered, there are some fundamental issues in the foundations to build hybrid empires upon.

This is partly due to a lack of IT staff with the skill-sets to make hybrid cloud work for them, as well as a distinct lack of tools sophisticated enough to ensure visibility when moving applications around multiple cloud environments. It is important to note that the tools that might close the gap are in development, but can’t seem to come soon enough, as companies are crying out for replacements of the all-too often proprietary technologies that are available now. For example, although technologies like microservices, containers and APIs are working to ensure apps are more flexible, we often find that the management, monitoring and deployment capabilities are not quite batting in the same league yet. When adding traditional on-premise infrastructure to the mix, it becomes even more difficult to see what’s actually going on. All of which impacts on security and compliance, as well as availability and performance.

What organisations really need in order to reap the rewards of a hybrid cloud deployment, is to be able to clearly see each application on every cloud environment it comes into contact with. This would mean a better way of guaranteeing compliance and availability, and will almost certainly improve the experience of automating processes.

Cruising through the clouds

As organisations look for a solution, there is much promise in the emerging technologies and solutions that are in development, that aim to deliver this need for cloud-wide visibility.

These solutions and technologies should meet a few requirements that can be categorised in three useful advancements: one would be ensuring expert analytical tools that can successfully read and evaluate the ins and outs of the public cloud, including its financial and technical nuances, to enable IT to place their apps appropriately. And not only that, but these tools should allow management to not only see but understand where their investments stand.

A second advance would be cross-cloud networking, crucial for delivering IT across clouds with ease and agility. Able to manage the connectivity of applications across numerous vendor clouds and services, it will be critical in unearthing bottlenecks or potential vulnerabilities. Lastly, a cloud-based disaster recovery service that ensures protection of critical data and applications, if done well, would have the potential to resolve a mountain of issues around availability.

A clear move towards hybrid cloud is evident, with the current figure showing 18% of companies deploying workloads across a mixture of public and private clouds, but set to more than double by 2020. This is solid evidence that hybrid cloud IT is a game changer, and is on its way to becoming the most popular method for enterprises to implement IT.

While delivering the technologies and solutions mentioned will not be the easiest task, the ever-increasing number of enterprises migrating to hybrid means that putting our heads together to make the necessary changes is in everyone’s best interest. If we can get to grips with cross-cloud visibility, and introduce the vital tools needed to make it work, hybrid cloud will live up to its exciting forecast and become the best way to manage and provision enterprise IT.