The economics of hybrid cloud

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Businessman Holding a Piggy BankMany businesses adopt hybrid cloud because all workloads are not the same.

There are times it makes sense for security and governance concerns to place workloads in a private cloud. When the organization must be accountable for customer data, it may find that that private cloud enables its users to track and govern data more predictably.

Things get complicated when it comes to the economics of managing cloud workloads. Predicting costs can be particularly complex.

The choice might seem obvious at first glance. A public cloud vendor will charge almost nothing for an hour of compute time or a gigabyte of storage. Many developers find it easy to create new, innovative applications on the public cloud.

In other situations, an organization might have to invest too much in additional infrastructure to support workloads on premises. As a result, public cloud is attractive. However, businesses that are using the cloud to create profit-making services often find that the private cloud is more economical.

So which is the best approach? The truth is that there are no simple answers. There are times when a public cloud makes more sense and other times when private cloud is ideal.

Changing landscape

I recently spoke with a chief information officer who told me about a conversation he had with his chief financial officer. His question was simply, “Why are our business units buying so many books?” At first, the CIO was puzzled. Then he realized that the CFO was referring to bills from Amazon, not for books but for cloud services.

This is not an isolated situation. A few years ago, business units would purchase public cloud services as an expense because it didn’t cost very much. Over the past year or so, however, the cost of public cloud services has risen dramatically. In many situations, it is clear that public cloud is the right choice in terms of ease of use, but financially, a company must be able to understand the costs associated with various cloud services and do advanced planning. This is where hybrid cloud management comes in.

Any well-designed hybrid cloud management platform includes brokering services. This brokering service matches the needs of the business to the various cloud services, both public and private. Most businesses do not want to be tied to a single public cloud vendor. Rather, they want to be able to choose the most efficient option (including their own services) based on the task and workload. Cloud brokering services provide the most practical way of understanding costs and options that are likely to change frequently based on the competitive public cloud environment.

The IBM approach to cloud brokering

As part of its hybrid cloud management, IBM has created a brokerage solution featuring a technology platform called Cloud Brokerage, which can be purchased as standalone software as a service (SaaS) or with Managed Brokerage Services.

Last year, IBM acquired Gravitant, a cloud brokering company. Gravitant provides IBM with a combination of services to assess a company’s cloud requirements based on technical and business needs. Based on the outcome of this assessment, the Gravitant brokering engine provides a comparison of cloud options and estimates the total cost.

In addition to brokering, IBM is leveraging the depth of the Gravitant platform to support hybrid cloud management. IBM Cloud Brokerage includes a multi-cloud services catalog—pre-loaded with SoftLayer, AWS and Azure—that can manage both public and private services.  The services catalog can be customized to comply with an organization’s own policies and to include an organization’s own private cloud and/or services.

The cloud management platform offers visibility, control, and governance across centralized IT and business units. IBM is also incorporating other management services, including IBM Cloud Orchestrator, ServiceNow, vRealize and OpenStack as part of Cloud Brokerage.

Visit the IBM Cloud Brokerage page to learn more.

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