With Hybrid Clouds Everyone’s a Winner – No Need to Choose Between Public and Private Models – Use Them Both

I remember studying system behavior in college and how the damping ratio indicated how fast a system would reach steady state. A damping ratio of zero results in a system that continually oscillates, never reaching steady state (also called equilibrium) at all. A damping ratio of 2 brought the system to a steady state very quickly. For me, the patterns created by a damping ratio of 1, a critical damped system, is the behavior that most represents the adoption of new technology and products.  The same is true for Cloud, specifically Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

In the infrastructure as a service world, first came public clouds, followed by private clouds. However, I believe  the “steady state” will be hybrid clouds. See my representative chart below.

Early success in public clouds had the masses believing that enterprise IT would move everything to the public cloud. This was an overreaction for sure. Cloud is a business model that allows one to bring up and down IT resources on demand and only pay for what is used. It is a lot like hiring a temporary workforce to get you through a big project. We don’t completely replace full time workers with temp workers so we should not think of public clouds as a complete replacement for own IT infrastructure.

Security concerns and build vs. rent economics led many to believe that the private cloud was the answer. Private clouds are great but they do not have the same economic benefits of public clouds for bursting and short term workloads. It would be like augmenting your full time staff for the one project a year when you need more help. These folks would be sitting around bored for the majority of the year. Sharing private cloud resources across multiple projects helps a little, but often projects overlap, which could lead to delays.

The hybrid cloud is clearly the answer for enterprise IT and SaaS (Software as a Service) providers. Hybrid clouds seamlessly bring together public and private clouds allowing them to behave as a single system. Private clouds serve the routine and predictable workloads, while public clouds serve temporary and unexpected workloads.

If we think about the lifecycle of an application, we would expect to see the application developed and tested in the public cloud.  Later, it would be  moved into production on a private cloud (or some other dedicated or virtualized environment). This private cloud would then be augmented with public cloud capacity during busy periods, and finally moved entirely to the public cloud in the event of a disaster. See graphic below.

When looking at my first chart if you had a question why I put steady state above the Hybrid line on the side of public, there is a reason. Not all clouds will be hybrid. Hybrid will make up a very large percentage of Enterprise clouds. Some companies will go all private and some will go all public. I believe public (and virtual private) will outnumber private.

One last thought on public clouds. Virtual Private Clouds have the same economic advantage as public clouds but have the added benefit of greater security and performance. A deeper look into Virtual Private Clouds will be covered in a future blog.

What is your take on Hybrid Clouds? Leave a comment below and join in on the discussion!

Don Parente Technology Strategy and Chief Architect Director AT&T About Don