Opinion : Hybrid Cloud =/= Hybrid Cloud, and how does private cloud link to that?


Earlier today I retweeted the following tweet…

Which got the following reply…

Today’s post is an opinion piece in regards to my take on “hybrid” cloud. This as I can relate to both statements made here.


“All clouds are equal, but some clouds are more equal than others.”

If you have ever had the (un)pleasantry of seeing my present on cloud in a non-technical manner, then you must have seen this slide…


From all the slides I’ve made in my career, this one must have gotten the best mileage! ūüėČ For those who are unfamiliar with the story behind it ;

We’re going to compare cloud delivery models with pizza’s. This as everyone loves pizzas and it takes the technical aspects out of the equation!¬†Look at an “On Premises” as making your own pizza from scratch. You buy the ingredients, mix the dough, bake pizza, eat it and do the dishes. When looking at “Infrastructure-as-a-Service“, we’re going to our favorite supermarket and buy a frozen/fresh pizza. We’ll be baking it at home, once done we’ll eat it and then we’ll do the dishes. In regards to “Platform-as-a-Service“, we’ll compare this to a typical pizza delivery. We’ll be ordering out, the pizza gets delivered. We just need to eat the pizza and do the dishes afterwards. When looking towards “Software-as-a-Service“, we’ll be going towards a restaurant. Here we have to do ***** (except pay of course), and everything (even the dishes) gets done for us.

After having done this story, I always ask the audience ;

And what do you use in your home situation?

And the answer is always ;

“It depends… a bit of everything I guess.”

The same goes for cloud! So for me, hybrid is mixing various offerings to suit your personal needs. A bit like a “best of breed” strategy.


“Hybrid” in the eyes of … *insert any religion*

Depending on the specific religion you adhere too… your definition of “Hybrid” will vary. For some it is heavily focussed on the private side and public is only for scaling. Others say it is about a consistent experience across private & public. For others it is purely about mixing cloud native services. And so on…

Now let’s pick wikipedia’s definition ;

A hybrid cloud service crosses isolation and provider boundaries so that it can’t be simply put in one category of private, public, or community cloud service. It allows one to extend either the capacity or the capability of a cloud service, by aggregation, integration or customization with another cloud service.

Anyhow, let’s continue…


Private Cloud

If we would take a look at the cartoon, we can all agree that “private cloud” is depicted in a rather bad manner. This is to which Adrian indicates that private cloud has a role too. Now let’s get started with addressing the elephant in the room and to make it clear to everyone…

“Virtualization is a component used in a cloud. They are not interchangeable terms for each other. Running your own vSphere/HyperV/KVM without any automation/self-service/charge back/… mechanisms (and I probably forgot a few) is NOT a cloud. Really… no, it’s not a private cloud. NO!

Am I saying that virtualization as such, without the capabilities that would uplift it to “private cloud” is not fit for organisations. No, I’m not saying that. I just want to address that a lot of people are made to believe that they have a private cloud, where they have not.


The need for Private Cloud

Why do people look / need a private cloud? The most common scenario’s are ;

  • Compliance¬†/ Governance regulation
  • Performance (ultra low latency)
  • Permanent workloads

In some cases, there is a strict compliancy / governance regulation that (correctly) forces you towards a non-public cloud offering. There are agencies/organizations out there that really cannot go to the cloud due to this. For the most organizations (90%+) this is not the case, and if we are really honest about it… The security level will probably be increased when going towards to cloud, when I take a look at a lot of (On Premises) implementations I’ve seen over the year. Though I’ll leave it at this, as¬†I could go on about cloud+security for a long time.

Performance can be an issue. Here I must say we are talking about ultra low latency situations. Imagine production machines spitting out an immense amount of data, where the latency of several ms would cause data loss. If I see that some providers (that supply ExpressRoute) can do about 6ms (between Belgium & Amsterdam (West Europe region in Azure), then this will be sufficient for the biggest chunks of organizations.

Another case are “permanent workloads“. The cloud thrives at flexible workloads and this is where you can really gain money! Though if you would rent a cab (“cloud”) and leave it parked in your driveway. Then we can agree that this not the best way to spend your money. In those cases, the ROI might favor an On Premises installation more. Though I do see that a lot of ISVs are shifting towards more cloud native implementations, where ways of thinking like “serverless” is showing A LOT of potential.


Expectation = Portability

When analyzing¬†the talks I’ve had with various organizations in regards to¬†hybrid cloud. Then I must say that it actually bears down to portability. Organizations want to be sure that the investments (f.e. installation of application X) will not be lost when their landscape moves towards a certain service. Sometimes I even notice the hope for a certain Walhalla where virtual machines can be moved without downtime from X to Y.

When looking towards moving workloads to & from the cloud… There are solutions out there that do that very well. Do bare in mind that this will always cause a downtime. A kinda of “live migration” / “vmotion” alike way of migrating is an illusion here. The best case (in my honest opinion) is one where you’ll notice a “reboot”. Sometimes having the same kind of hypervisor helps, but a majority of the replication software suites are hypervisor agnostic.

As a side note ; If you are really looking for portability… read-up on containers!


Private Cloud over the years…

Is the concept of “private cloud” new? Far from it…

  • “Gen 1” commercial ;¬†Taking a look at the first generation of private cloud offerings. Here I think about VMware vCloud¬†& Windows Azure Pack. These were the first steps towards self-service, though they were (yet again, in my humble opinion) lacking in terms of automation & charge-back mechanisms. In addition, they posed an additional barrier due to the additional licensing costs that were introduced.
  • OSS variant ;¬†Here I’m looking towards OpenStack. Conceptually, this is very nice. Though, if I look at the Belgian market, I haven’t seen any deployment… In discussions I noticed that it’s (perceived) as very complex, difficult to implement & not worth the fuss.
  • “Gen 2” commercial ;¬†As a successor to the “Gen 1”, I’m confident about the capabilities that Azure Stack will bring to the table. So for those who find themselves in need (hence the scenario’s as described above) of a private cloud, I’m sure Azure Stack will be a good choice!


The Future of Private Cloud

When I take a look at the organizations I visit… then I think public cloud is mostly a better fit than private cloud for them. Given, this is sometimes a challenge in terms of “culture” / “politics”.¬†Though if we would take a look at it in a non-emotional way, then we can safely conclude this. That being said, in my opinion,

Private Cloud is a niche solution in the long run and a transitional stepping stone for companies that are hesitant towards he public cloud.

If one really needs the capabilities of cloud, then the service offering of the public cloud is far more fine-grained and worry-free. Though I can relate that a lot of organizations are afraid to dive into the pool, where a solution like (f.e.) Azure Stack can be a stepping stone to move towards Azure (Public) in the “long”-term.

If you are the KGB, then I can understand that you are in a niche where you really do not want to use a public cloud offering. So that’s where I see private cloud as a “niche” solution to target those organizations.

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