Hybrid cloud computing is at the same place today that private cloud was three years ago, with actual deployments low, but aspirations high, and nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner.
The report noted organizations that are well on their way with private cloud projects rarely consider technology the major issue, and IT heads need to understand where agility could make a difference in current services, understand what new services would be useful if provided with agility, and work closely with their customers to make those determinations.
"Virtualization reduces capital expenses, and standards and automation reduce operational expenses," Thomas Bittman, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "However, taking the next step of adding usage metrics, self-service offerings and automated provisioning requires investment in technologies without a significant reduction in operational cost. With this in mind, the driving factor for going that next step should primarily be agility."
Progress made with private clouds varies enormously, with most deployments starting small and offering a limited scope of functionality. However, as those private cloud portfolios grow, the resulting cloud infrastructures will likely be based on the technologies chosen for pilot projects, the report predicted.
"Too often, private cloud projects are started by choosing a technology, but technology itself does not solve the transformational people and process issues," Bittman said. "It is much better to focus first on an approach to make transformative changes. In many cases, that means creating a separate organization outside of traditional IT processes—at least to incubate these projects—and focusing first on a simple project that has buy-in between IT and IT's customers."
The report projected that in a market with a lot of vendors vying for market share, the winners and losers will be determined very quickly, and because of the importance of integration throughout the cloud management platform, smaller players will likely be acquired or go out of business within the next few years. In addition, where organizations do decide to deploy cloud services, the technology they choose matters tremendously.
"Vendors are promoting private cloud computing as 'the next thing' for infrastructure and operations—and it is, but only for the right services," Bittman concluded. "Virtualization is a horizontal, very broad trend, impacting a high percentage of IT infrastructure. Private cloud is a specific style of computing that will leverage virtualization, but is not appropriate for all services. While the majority of midsize and large enterprises will build and deploy private cloud services over the next few years, private cloud will only be used for specific, appropriate services."