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Enterprise IT, Sponsored Posts - Written by External Contributor on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 11:29 - 0 Comments
The cloud computing forecast is increasingly hybrid
sponsored post The choice about whether your organisation should deploy a private or public cloud computing solution represents a false dichotomy. Instead, why not deploy both in an integrated approach, to take advantage of the strengths of each model? And why not consider developing your applications the same way?
As we look back over the history of the technology industry discussion regarding the emerging class of cloud computing solutions, what we see is that that discussion has gone through the typical series of steps which most new technologies experience. To start with, there was a lot of confusion around definitions and basic implications. What precisely was cloud computing, we wondered, and how did it relate to existing technologies? Was this just another fad, a technology which would come and go quickly with a short adoption lifecycle, or was it here to stay?
As this phase ended and the industry began to realise that cloud computing was a significant change to the way we understand technology delivery as a whole, substantial product launches began to take place and customer implementations began to be rolled out. With these new moves came a set of new definitions, with terms such as ‘private’ and ‘public’ cloud entering the industry dictionary.
At first, as with any new technology, it appeared that there were hard and fast rules about how the technology should be used. Some sections of the industry were adamant that the public cloud model was the only way forward for cloud computing in general. At the same time, others maintained that private cloud was the more realistic way for many users to shift to the new generation of solutions.
These back and forth arguments have continued to rage unabated. But the fascinating thing which has started happening over the past several years with respect to actual end user deployments is that we’re seeing this public/private cloud dichotomy begin to break down, as technology buyers realise they can have their cake and eat it too.
Firstly and most obviously, this kind of ‘hybrid’ cloud approach is happening at the organisational level. At Microsoft we’re seeing major Australian organisations use a number of different types of cloud services simultaneously. One of Australia’s biggest retail banks, for example, has deployed its own private cloud inside its operations, but is also using software hosted onshore by third-party providers, as well as public cloud services located offshore. This is now quite a standardised hybrid model for large organisations.
Across the industry, much of this kind of cloud computing usage is at the infrastructure layer. These are very common use cases that we’re all familiar with by this point — the ability to easily self-provision virtual machines in private and public clouds, access to shared storage, scalable compute blocks and so on.
But there’s also a deeper kind of hybrid cloud adoption that we’re starting to see end users take advantage of, which operates higher up the stack, at the application tier. End users are starting to realise that it’s not just their IT infrastructure which can take advantage of multiple cloud computing models, but also the applications themselves.
Take the deployment of the Essential Secondary Science Assessment tool by e-learning software company Janison for the NSW Department of Education & Communities, for example.
Janison needed both the security of an on-premises server to store the sensitive results data of NSW school students participating in online assessments, as well as the ability to scale up to meet a sizable processing load of some 80,000 students across 600 schools. The answer was a hybrid tool built using on-premises servers running Microsoft SQL Server to store data and Windows Azure’s public cloud computing power to process and display the assessments, including multimedia assets.
Westpac took a similar approach when developing a new risk analysis platform, as this article by iTNews chronicles. Previously an in-house application, the bank developed a new system that let it keep the actual application on its own premises, while running some 50 to 60 percent of the actual calculations involved through Windows Azure.
What we see in both cases is examples where developers have chosen to use different computing resources for different aspects of their application, taking advantage of the different strengths of both private and public cloud resources where appropriate.
When you start to think about cloud computing in this more granular way, all sorts of applications become apparent. When it comes to data storage, it may be more economical to provide access to certain datasets from a public cloud environment, while still maintaining an in-house private environment for more sensitive or regulated information, which could be subject to data sovereignty restrictions. The same can apply to email mailboxes, with some organisations choosing to store sensitive user data — for example, the mailboxes of their executive team — in-house through Microsoft Exchange, while providing services to other staff from a cloud platform such as Office 365. And there are countless more examples.
It’s a rapidly evolving situation, but one thing is clear: Hybrid cloud computing models provide the kind of flexibility that end users are looking for. Most customers that Microsoft speaks to these days are more interested in a hybrid cloud solution rather than a pure-play public or private cloud model. And this trend is only looking like it will accelerate, with next-generation platforms such as Windows Server 2012 being designed to provide a direct extension into Windows Azure, for example.
It may sound a bit confronting when you first start to think about the possibilities. But what all of this actually represents is a maturation of the wave of cloud computing technologies in general. If we think back a few years, the cloud computing discussion was all about technology itself. But now it’s about how we use that technology for real outcomes. And that can only be a good thing.
What’s better — public cloud, private cloud, or a hybrid mix? What sorts of cloud computing deployments are you seeing in your own organisation? Post your comments below, and click here to find out more about Microsoft’s cloud computing solutions.
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Enterprise IT, Featured, News - May 22, 2013 16:02 - 0 Comments
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News, Telecommunications - May 22, 2013 15:27 - 17 Comments
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