Is there too much choice with hybrid multicloud?

From time to time, we invite industry thought leaders to share their opinions and insights on current technology trends to the IBM Systems IT Infrastructure blog. The opinions in these posts are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of IBM.

Cloud technology is now known by many names and this can be very confusing to the uninitiated. Public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and multicloud to name a few, let alone the sea of acronyms that accompanies the tech industry (PaaS, IaaS, SaaS). And we can’t forget the new kid on the block – blockchain!

Never in our history has there been as much choice when considering the right technology to use for businesses. We produce so much data each day with more people than ever before are connected to the internet (4.39 billion as of January 2019[1]). Enterprise technology is superseding itself each year to meet the high demands of data growth and accessibility.

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To this end, the world of hybrid cloud IT infrastructure makes sense because it can and will cater for disparate data formats as well as disparate systems. Ever wonder what “hybrid cloud” means around the world and where enterprises are in their journey to cloud? Find out in this IDC survey.

A great infographic demonstrating data growth, illustrating an internet minute, is shown below that is current as of January 2019. Try to imagine how each of these highlighted platforms connect and interact.[2]

chart showing data usage all day every day on various platforms

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Connectivity and interoperability are two main drivers for modern enterprise IT infrastructure, and all roads point to a hybrid multicloud destination, but the real question to ask is “how do we get there, and when we do, is it the final destination?”

Let’s look as this logically: how did we arrive at today’s stop on the technological railway journey to hybrid multicloud?

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

The emergence of IaaS was quite literally an explosion of infrastructure service models that created a good starting point for the emergence of cloud service housings. This came with its own challenges, resiliency and scalability were an afterthought, not to mention security!

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Platforms as a service (PaaS)

This was the next logical destination that swiftly emerged after IaaS providers and to some extent are still extremely relevant today. However, this too has its challenges in the form of interoperability as well as the ever-existent resiliency challenge.

Software as a service (SaaS)

The next stop makes sense too, the rise of the software application as a service. Again, still very prevalent today but also known under other guises (ISV – Independent software provider). This destination often considers the previous two stops as part of their overall solution offered.

Public cloud

The previous three stops on the technological railway paved the way to multiple public cloud offerings that we see today. The rise of the tech giants (you know who they are) that dominate this space with commoditised service offerings at bargain basement prices. Once again these have their own challenges but—interestingly–they also have an accumulation of ALL the previous challenges – Resiliency, interoperability, connectivity and of course security!

Hybrid multicloud

For this articles’ purpose, let’s say this is the final stop (at the moment) for the technology train. We are squeezing as much as we can from the systems we have by connecting to additional cloud technology service providers for bespoke services and cheaper commoditised infrastructure offerings (storage and compute being two good examples). Of course it makes sense to utilize hybrid cloud environments where it makes good business sense to do so, but again we will see the same challenges present from the previous stops but also multiplying exponentially.

On a personal note I would like to think that maybe we should be looking to simplify the above whilst overcoming the challenges stated previously as enterprise IT infrastructure HAS to be – resilient, manageable, secure, fast and of course – heterogeneous by design. Multiple service vendors can bring multiple management challenges.

If we then consider that this technology could be rolled into one technical provider’s product, then wouldn’t it make sense to adopt it whilst embracing the world of opensource and DevOps to boot? Of course it could be said the technology has been around for over 50 years and constantly redeveloped and upgraded – IBM Z enterprise platform.

[1] https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2019-global-digital-overview

[2] https://web-assets.domo.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/data-never-sleeps-7-896kb.jpg