Re-thinking Hybrid Cloud

2014

What’s a Hybrid Cloud for? The answer to this question depends on who you ask. A Cloud provider would say that this type of Cloud expands its customer base and increases the revenue. A Cloud consumer would say that she does not care about the type but Hybrid Cloud promises more reliability for the cases of peak load than a regular Private Cloud and may be a bit cheaper than if the only Private Cloud were used for those peaks.

All this is true, though there is a hidden trap for customers and an extra benefit doe the provider.

As we know very well, the IT application mentality is to deliver what it can (not necessarily what is needed) and enforce consumers to use what is given to them. With this in mind, a Hybrid Cloud was named this way exclusively to reflect the development side of the Cloud business – it is about a hybrid of Public and Private Cloud. Nothing’s new. Well, if we step back and review what Public and Private Clouds mean to the consumer (see “A shift in Understanding of Private and Public Cloud“), we can re-cover the aforementioned trap.

Yes, I am talking about Service Contract with Cloud providers. I would highly appreciate if anybody would explain me why a consumer organisation has to know about technical details about Cloud internals like the limits of computational capacity of the Cloud provider and Cloud federation. Such things are internal problems of ‘applications’ in old pre-Cloud language. A consumer business sets the terms of the Service Contract with the Private Cloud provider and this should be enough.

The problem, however, is in that the Cloud provider is afraid it cannot meet the Service Contract with available resources or wants to save on using Public Cloud, which is cheaper than the private ones. Also, such Private Cloud provider knows that it cannot enforce the Public Cloud providers to preserve its private Service Contract with the consumer. This is it. When a consumer company deals with a Hybrid Cloud, its customised contract is usually violated at the moment when the Cloud service crosses to the Public Cloud. Overall, if we use a modern meaning of the term, a Hybrid Cloud in the essence a masqueraded Public Cloud, do you like it or not.

Therefore, I propose to re-define the term and use it for a different model of Cloud engagement.

Particularly, I propose to associate the term ‘hybrid’ with a synthesis of whatever Cloud and internal, in-company Cloud brokerage. If a consumer company realises its integration or interactions with a Cloud as a client/server – request/response – it is a regular invocation of Private or Public Cloud. However, if a consumer company orchestrates invocations of multiple Clouds and works as a broker between them, we can call this a Hybrid Cloud. Indeed, the consumer mixes different Clouds with its own operations.

Described model is not only meaningful to a consumer, it provides additional and very important benefits to it:

1) it guarantees that the consumer remains in the full control over the Cloud services

2) it allows to avoid locking with the particular Cloud provider because it is possible to contract a redundant competing Cloud provider (BTW, this will result in the cost drop of the first provider)

3) it allows higher business flexibility and internal control – when and what the Cloud is used for

4) it allows for more frequent updates to providers that offer lower cost because of better technology (over a few years).

This observation completes the re-thought model of Clouds from the consumer’s perspectives. So, we have:

  1. Private Cloud – an externally hosted Cloud that a consumer can sign a customised Service Contract with
  2. Public Cloud – an externally hosted Cloud that a consumer has to accept a unified Service Contract with
  3. Hybrid Cloud – several externally hosted Clouds that the consumer orchestrates the invocations with; the nature of Service Contracts (and related risks) – private or public – is under a full control of the consumer.

I think that all other sub-types of Cloud are actually derived from the three aforementioned ones and do not change the consumer’s classification model.

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