Hybrid Cloud – A New Opportunity Area

Enterprises around the globe have already invested significantly in IT infrastructure. But IT is an evolving, fast-moving phenomenon – any day these organizations may be required to deploy another new application or solution to meet organisational requirements. And in their quest for affordable options, the cloud would be the most contemporary choice. But cloud migration would involve a lot of thought and evaluation related to the challenges of adoption. The most obvious question for enterprises is how they can keep their data and applications in the cloud and still maintain control over organizational network topology and policies? Or how can they  keep their existing in-house physical infrastructure which they were unable to scale, but still negotiate additional resources using cloud computing on an as-needed basis?  Indian enterprises facing such situations form a well of opportunity for cloud vendors.  Vendors have already perpetuated their RD efforts in the cloud domain and have come out with answers to this apprehension by introducing Hybrid Cloud.

Hybrid cloud is essentially a synthesis of virtual and physical infrastructure, where physical infrastructure is connected to the cloud.  It provides enterprises the options of using private or public cloud judiciously depending upon the criticality of the solution.  One can use physical infrastructure or private cloud for mission-critical applications and push the non-critical data and applications to the public cloud. For example, a company might use a public cloud for survey and data collection while using a private cloud inside the organization for analysis & production deployment.

Reputed cloud players including Netmagic and others are pioneering the hybrid cloud market. The benefits of the hybrid technology have been witnessed already and it will transcend the corporate sectors to other sectors including Government and Education. One of several successful cases in India is that of a university under the Dept. of Distance Education which offers Distance Education. Much of their learning happens through an online portal .The portal attracted high visitor traffic that peaked during the time when exam results are published online.  At such times, the existing infrastructure used to get overloaded but the rest of the time it was underutilised. The university finally opted for a flexible cloud computing package which  allowed it to upgrade its infrastructure when server and network loads were high and downgrade instantly when the peak time had passed.

Another example of successful hybrid cloud adoption is that of a popular DTH player in India . The company’s IT setup was hosted with another Indian service provider.  The existing IT set up of the company was expanding with increasing digitization. The service provider was unable to give adequate support. Also the company was planning their DR strategies . Finally the management decided to outsource their IT setup on a pay-per-use model and move to the cloud way, as they did not want to invest on the infrastructure piece and manage the same.  Initially the company wanted to shift to a full cloud model but after evaluation the cloud vendor suggested that they adopt Hybrid cloud while continuing with some of their existing IT infrastructure. For DR, a complete managed DR solution was provided in form of DR-as-a-Service Model.

The Indian market is likely to see different platforms of hybrid cloud in the near future. For example Rackspace is offering hybrid cloud offerings to businesses in the Asia-Pacific region which would be Asia’s first open source hybrid cloud computing platform. The open source platform will certainly enable users to enjoy freedom from vendor lock-in as they open new gateways to faster innovation through cloud computing.

Hybrid cloud in India is currently at an emerging stage but of course one needs to increase end-user awareness as well as enhance marketing efforts to popularize this concept. This promises to be an interesting phenomenon to watch out for. Migration of traditional IT services to cloud service alternatives will continue to take place and it is here that hybrid clouds can play a transformative role.

-Somnath Das, Manager Research in Kolkata, India