What has happened to the big migration to public cloud? Just five years ago, it seemed inevitable that enterprise after enterprise would be migrating to public cloud platforms and data centers would be a thing of the past. This expectation has not been realized—yet.
There are a number of reasons for this. Many organizations have considerable legacy application estates that are holding back their migrations due to the cost of transformation. Others depend on traditional on-premises data centers (DCs), often due to fears around security and data sovereignty. Then, of course, you have large multi-year DC hosting outsourcing deals that have tied in organizations to long-term contracts. Migration to public cloud has been further slowed by fears of disrupting something that ‘already works’, so why change it?
"The target is to achieve a ‘single pane of glass’, whereby the business has complete visibility and control over all aspects of its IT landscape in one place"
Despite these barriers and concerns, I increasingly hear clients asking how they can bring the benefits of the public cloud into their legacy services. They might have full legacy rack-based infrastructure or have started on the virtualization journey with private cloud providers. They could also be running non-production or less important workloads in the public cloud, isolated from their main business services. These existing technologies should not be barriers to public cloud adoption; rather they should be seen as a foundation for a hybrid cloud solution.
With the above as a starting point, the challenge is how to bring together a variety of legacy and cloud solutions. How do you make them part of the eventual move to the public cloud? The path forward is to look at the new and growing number of solutions that can enable a business to deeply integrate its existing services with the cloud. As an example, let us consider a business with a cloud-first strategy but operating a legacy platform. To continue its cloud transformation journey, the business might seek to integrate its legacy platform with its investments in public and private cloud solutions. In other words, to create a hybrid landscape. Ultimately, the target is to achieve a ‘single pane of glass’, whereby the business has complete visibility and control over all aspects of its IT landscape in one place.
This ‘single pane of glass’ will be an enabler of the company’s ongoing hybrid cloud journey. It is something that the broader IT community has talked about for years, but, in my experience, is rarely realized in the market. That is because it is often tied to a specific provider or technology, limiting the integration scope. Now, however, as more and more companies move towards a hybrid model, integration will become a priority.
In this context, the role of service integrator is becoming crucial to managing a hybrid approach. The use of modern integration tools has made it possible to visualize and connect applications residing in disparate systems inside and outside the enterprise, combining multiple clouds as well as, legacy on-premises environments. This is hybrid integration at work, which I expect to remain the predominant cloud model for the foreseeable future.
In addressing the concerns and barriers, hybrid integration will enable greater adoption of public cloud, running in tandem with private and legacy platforms. Even the most cloud-centric business will have this duality of cloud and legacy going forward, with perhaps just progressive start-ups and internet companies being the only pure cloud enterprises.
What about security in this hybrid landscape? This is a question I am often asked, as the mix of dedicated and cloud facilities, tools, and procurement approaches potentially creates a lack of centralized control. This raises concerns about end-to-end security. Here again, I come back to the expertise of the integrator to mitigate this risk. The integrator’s role is to provide visibility and management of the end-to-end technology stack and the security posture within it. Earlier fears about security in public cloud solutions are also eroding as organizations gather a better understanding of the security controls available to them when consuming public cloud services.
Looking ahead, I am in no doubt that in three or four years there will still be organizations yet to embark on their public cloud journeys. Ongoing constraints, largely driven by regulations and compliance, will affect public cloud in areas such as data security or general lack of control. It is for public cloud providers and service integrators to allay any remaining roadblocks and concerns. They must provide these companies with hybrid cloud solutions that will enable their business change. Put simply, an integrated hybrid cloud solution, incorporating public, private and legacy platforms, is the true enabler of a cloud-first business strategy.