Setting the stage for your journey to hybrid cloud; a basic vocabulary

By | 3 minute read | September 30, 2019

There is a rapid industry transition under way to a hybrid cloud style of computing. It’s happening across all industries and all lines of business and being pushed along by stakeholders from IT managers to the C-suite to the shareholders. Although the transition is touching every area of IT infrastructure, in this 6-part series we are going to dive deep on the impact of hybrid cloud infrastructure on storage and explore the benefits of a hybrid cloud strategy.

In Part 1, I’m going to set the stage and get us all on the same page with terminology. Ready? Let’s go!

Private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud, hybrid multicloud–what’s the difference?

We’ve all heard the terms and probably have a cursory understanding of the nuances, but just to set a common foundation, let’s start with a few definitions.

The first term is private cloud. Basically, a private cloud is an IT infrastructure where access is limited to just you and maybe your close partners. It’s your friend circle. Often people equate private cloud with on premises–and a lot of private clouds do exist on premises–but it’s also possible for them to run on infrastructure from a public cloud provider.

The second term is public cloud. As the name suggests, this is where you are sharing the infrastructure with the general public–everybody renting their own slice.

The third term, hybrid cloud, is one that combines some on-premises private resources with public cloud resources, perhaps running parts of an application or application lifecycle in each place. Maybe you have core databases on premises in a private cloud and the front-end customer interaction or mobile part of the app is in the public cloud. Or maybe DevOps is done in the public cloud and the production deployment is done on premises in a private cloud.

The last term is multicloud. This is where multiples of public or private resources are joined together. For example, maybe you are happily running along in a hybrid cloud environment with Microsoft Azure as your public cloud component, but your developers decide that doing some analytics and calling some AI services on the IBM public cloud would help business results. Now your data is moving across multiple public clouds and your private cloud. You are not only hybrid cloud, but now you are hybrid multicloud.

Virtualization is the next term and is the foundation of most traditional data centers. Virtual machines were designed to make efficient use of physical hardware. IDC says[1]  that 88 percent of workloads run on virtualized compute resources today–but I think it is okay to say “just about everything” is virtualized.

Containers are different. Containers were designed to make it easy to move applications from one place to another. Think about it: in the hybrid multicloud example we discussed above, you need to be able to move an application between your on-premises private cloud, the Microsoft Azure public cloud and the IBM public cloud and have it continue to work the same regardless of where it is. Containers package up everything an application needs for its runtime and move it all together in the container. An interesting fact we will come back to: while there might be a lot of Windows in traditional data centers, 80 percent of containers run on Linux1.

Finally, there is Kubernetes. With containers on the move, you need a system to orchestrate deployment and management at the scale of a hybrid multicloud. That system is Kubernetes. It was originally designed by Google and is now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

Okay, that’s all for definitions. In Part 2 we’ll explore what’s behind this rapid industry shift toward hybrid cloud infrastructure.

What do you think? Did you learn something new about the vocabulary of hybrid cloud infrastructure that will help you be more engaged in your organization’s conversations? Join the conversation using one of the social links below!

Read part two of this series here.

[1] IDC White Paper, sponsored by Red Hat, The Role of Virtualization in the Era of Containers and Cloud, December 2018