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The hybrid cloud would prefer you leave your interop inhibitions at the door

Mark Baker

on 6 August 2014

This article was last updated 9 years ago.

How will cloud adoption progress? If the results of this year’s Future of Cloud Computing Report from North Bridge are any indication, the answer is rapidly, and profitably. Perhaps unsurprisingly, just six months into 2014, the value of cloud funding deals is already two-thirds the total for 2013, which was the biggest year in the report’s five year history.

What is more surprising is where that growth is coming from, and how companies are solving some long-standing challenges.

The three biggest promises of cloud are still cost savings, scalability and agility. That said the report reveals that one in five are concerned about the costs of moving infrastructure to the cloud. This could perhaps be partly down to the rapid growth of SaaS and Web APIs, which creates complexity and interoperability challenges, and in turn drives up cost. Businesses are struggling to decide which tools to use, which will work well together and which can be used in their own private clouds or within public cloud environments.

A good indication of how companies plan to deal with some of the cloud’s complexities and hurdles is the clear desire for hybrid clouds. The report says hybrid cloud is expected to become the dominant cloud strategy: 42 percent say they now use a hybrid cloud strategy, growing to 55 percent in the next two years. We’ve said before that “most companies are committed to public AND private clouds, and getting data to the right cloud. Hybrid cloud is without a doubt central to the conversation and thought about the cloud as far as we can tell.”

So why has hybrid cloud emerged as an important strategy? Because it offers the balance economic and technical benefits of the public cloud with some of the control and security of a private cloud. Indeed, as 451 Research’s Jay Lyman says in the report, “the growth of hybrid cloud in particular indicates more organisations are seeking to formalise and standardise early, public cloud use that has not fully addressed security, compliance and regulatory, integration and other concerns of these enterprise organisations.”

Lyman’s observations match what businesses said are the most important inhibitors to cloud adoption. Security was the most commonly cited inhibitor of cloud adoption – almost half of all respondents. Similarly, regulatory or compliance issues (34 percent), privacy (31 percent) and vendor lock-in (30 percent) were cited by roughly one-third of respondents as detracting from cloud adoption. Following the last year’s persistent headlines about cloud security and privacy, it’s expected that concerns would be rife in these areas. Given this, the most interesting points in Lyman’s note and the report’s findings are around interoperability and vendor lock-in.

Here is the reality that all cloud industry participants and providers need to understand and let drive their own strategies for how they build and even sell their offerings:

The report’s findings clearly show that hybrid cloud will be a major strategy of choice, precisely because businesses want choice. Choice of provider. Choice of data location. Choice of cost. And if that’s what buyers demand, any remaining concerns about the cloud inhibiting interoperability, forcing lock-in, or cost will have to be reduced to virtually zero.

Solving the interoperability conundrum of the cloud is one of our most passionate focuses at Canonical. We’re continuing to work hard to alleviate cloud pains with automation and management tools Juju and Landscape, which dramatically simplify the design, deployment, management and scaling of cloud environments. Also, making OpenStack and all cloud platforms compatible is important, and if it is also a passion of yours, I invite you to learn more about our OpenStack Interoperability Lab (OIL). Many of the biggest names in cloud are already participating (VMware, HP, Microsoft, Cisco and many others). As more technologies become certified through OIL, picking and choosing the right tools for the right cloud job will become as easy as click-drag-drop.

The Future of Cloud Computing Report has become a great predictor of how the industry will develop. Those not yet aboard the hybrid cloud train must get aboard and prove to buyers that they can truly leave their inhibitions about interoperability at the door.

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