Why hybrid cloud makes better cattle than pets

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I’ve lost count of the number of times a successful product or technology is undone by feature bloat and reaches the point where it is so overblown even its most diehard fans struggle to recognize it.

It seems we are incapable of drawing a line, knowing when to stop, or recognizing we’ve taken something to its logical conclusion.

Take, for example, the humble word processor. It has become a monster where 80 percent of its features are hardly, if ever, used let alone understood. Basic functionality is lost in a maze of menus, toolbars and the like.

The latest example in my world is virtualization. The number of parameters that can now be tweaked undermine its original intent. Servers may be virtual rather than physical but each ends up handcrafted if you aren’t careful—a pet, if you will, with one careful owner lavishing it and feeding it pupcakes.

Mind you, it’s not all bad being a pet—if barking mad!

(Source: Nick Holt, Daily Mail)

However, leaving aside the—ahem—benefits of being a pet, the problem with infinite variety is that while it may make sense in a private cloud, especially an on-premises one, it undermines the premise of hybrid cloud.

While I can craft a cunningly tailored environment in the privacy of my own data center, leveraging all the power of virtualization and its infinite variety, all this does is paint me into a corner. I come unstuck as soon as I need to access services and resources beyond my realm—in other words, as soon as I start to think in terms of a hybrid world or cloud.

The key to avoiding this is to focus on utilizing a relatively small number of virtual (or bare metal for that matter) machine flavors or T-Shirt sizes—an idea pioneered by the public cloud providers but just as relevant in my hybrid cloud world—recognizing that such machines should be relatively long-lived. If I need short-lived environments, these are better served by leveraging a container technology like Docker to optimize my resource utilization.

This transition is a subtle one, but one that lets us continue to extract value out of the many billions of dollars invested in virtualization while embracing the new world. A world in which we are all ranch hands tending herds of cattle.

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