Top business and cloud pundits have written about how IT is moving to a hybrid world. The move is fueled by unabated growth in public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) consumption and the reality that many organizations also consume their own significant data center assets.
Since hybrid cloud will be with us for the foreseeable future, let’s talk about what makes the best-of-breed hybrid cloud. This shouldn’t be a closely guarded secret in the cloud automation marketplace. (I’m not going to debate where applications and workloads are best suited to live, as that’s most often organization and workload specific, and IT is continually evaluating and optimizing resource consumption.)
Many organizations will certainly use more than one public cloud over time, and some will use more than one hypervisor. But since most organizations start with a single hypervisor and a single public cloud, this is what I’d like to focus on here. Since “Magic Quadrant” is a Gartner trademark, if I were to plot the “Secret Square” for hybrid cloud, it would look like this:
On the y-axis, “Ease of Implementation” shows how difficult it is for an IT organization to use this hybrid cloud. The higher up the hybrid cloud sits on the y-axis, the easier it is to consume. That’s why the top hybrid clouds are VMware vSphere plus vCloud Air and Microsoft Hyper-V plus Azure. Their integrated nature and their “single pane of glass” make them easiest to consume.
The challenge with those two hybrid clouds, however, is their capabilities. My Secret Square’s x-axis shows the overall comprehensiveness of the combined service offering. VMware’s hypervisor remains the market leader for good reason, but Azure is a much more mature public cloud than vCloud Air. And VMware’s most recent announcement about vCloud Air certainly calls into question their long-term commitment to this offering.
Hybrid Cloud Rankings
Amazon Web Services (AWS) remains far and away the public cloud with the most complete service offering. The combination of AWS with VMware on-premise offers the overall richest experience. A VMware plus Azure hybrid cloud has the best hypervisor and the second-best public cloud, and so overall provides a sound offering. But AWS is easier to use because of its custom tools for VMware (like vCenter import/export and the vCenter management portal). And its more extensive command-line capabilities make life easier for (particularly non-Windows) developers.
Another caveat to consider with the VMware plus AWS hybrid cloud is less about where it sits in the Secret Square and more about what’s happening in the marketplace. Individually this hypervisor and public cloud are the market leaders; it’s no surprise that their combined offering is also the market leader. Add in the reality of shadow IT (developers are consuming AWS unbeknownst to IT), which can cause many unintended consequences, not least of which is sprawl. In many cases, AWS resources are (eventually) brought back under the purview and management of the IT team (often after a large bill). The result is a VMware & AWS hybrid cloud by default, regardless of whether IT intentionally selected that combination.
Easier With a Cloud Management Platform
When selecting a Cloud Management Platform (CMP) to operate your best-of-breed hybrid cloud, first consider the CMP’s support for both your primary hypervisor and your public cloud. Gartner has not yet published a CMP Magic Quadrant, but you’re likely going to go deep in leveraging the specific capabilities of that hypervisor or public cloud. Look for a CMP that provides feature depth in the hybrid cloud combination you choose. Think about the underlying service definition, the automation and orchestration capabilities, and the richness of the self-service experience that the CMP will allow you to deliver to your consumers of IT services.
It’s also worth considering the two hybrid clouds on the right-hand side of the Secret Square. A really good CMP will help move the hybrid cloud up the y-axis (as indicated with the arrows), since the goal of a CMP should be to help you use your hypervisor/cloud resources in a more efficient, productive and controlled way. A CMP will also help even out the differences between the underlying hypervisor and cloud. For example, the CMP can ensure reliable approval or lifecycle automation workflows across your hybrid cloud, or ensure consistent application deployment and configuration management with third-party tools like Chef and Puppet.
Do you agree with my hybrid cloud Secret Square? Provide your feedback and I’ll be happy to provide an updated version. After all, every business needs to get squared away with their best-of-breed hybrid cloud to stay competitive.