Cloud computing concept

About a decade ago, prevailing IT traditions dictated that businesses use on-premises infrastructure for their enterprise applications. However, a paradigm shift has occurred with the emergence of IaaS and on-demand cloud providers such as AWS, etc. It has given birth to a new virtualization strategy that most businesses have been quick to adopt – use servers provided by third-party cloud vendors, eliminate infrastructure limitations, develop and deploy applications on a single hardware. The fact that businesses can do all this and more without spending millions of dollars on IT systems is proving to be the proverbial icing on the cake.

The evolution of IaaS and SaaS has opened up a world of opportunities for smaller businesses and startups where they now have the ability to explore and deploy their ideas with greater agility. This has not only helped cut costs but has also improved the time to market. However, it also poses a new challenge for the enterprise.

Applications are becoming increasingly hybrid in nature. The highly critical ones run on premises while the less critical ones are deployed on the cloud. The on-premises infrastructure resources are then linked to the cloud through VPN or VPC, resulting in a hybrid cloud that offers a high degree of flexibility and adaptability.
Enterprises find the hybrid cloud very attractive as it allows them to achieve a lot while staying within their budget. In addition, by restricting the highly critical applications to on-premises infrastructure, they don’t have to compromise on any of their security and compliance requirements. The challenge enterprises now face is a crucial one: how to manage hybrid resources in the most efficient manner possible?

With more and more businesses jumping onto the hybrid cloud bandwagon, technology and services companies can expect to see significant changes in the way businesses manage their hybrid resources.

Here are 5 crucial developments in the hybrid cloud arena that we think 2014 is likely to bring:

1. Hybrid Assets Management System
The fact that different IaaS providers have different strengths means enterprises will have a presence on more than one cloud platform in order to make the most of their applications. Multiple cloud platforms combined with on-premises infrastructure will result in a highly complex hybrid cloud. Web-based SaaS applications, such as NetSuite, Salesforce, Workday, etc., will only add to the complexity. The need of the hour is a unified system that will help manage scattered assets and address other needs like configuration management, risk, compliance, etc. We predict that this year, there will be a flood of products and services that are designed to simplify assets management and life on the hybrid cloud.

2. Hybrid Cloud Migration Tools
In today’s hybrid cloud environment, it is often necessary to move application resources across various cloud platforms – from private cloud to public, from public to private, or public to public. In a virtualized world, it is extremely difficult to shift resources around without the right tools. This year, we can expect to see various tools that provide the required support and facilitate resource movement across various cloud platforms.

3. Hybrid Cloud Security, Governance, Risk and Compliance
Hybrid cloud adds a whole new dimension to security, governance, risk and compliance. With on-premises infrastructure, businesses have it easy because the requirements are clearly defined as per internal policies. However, in a hybrid cloud environment, businesses have to work with different service providers and different SLAs. In addition, moving data across various cloud resources raises the question of compliance. In 2014, IT companies with a focus on these areas might have to deal with an increased demand for security and GRC management in a hybrid cloud environment. Expect to see more cloud service brokerage companies specializing in security and GRC!

4. Hybrid Cloud Backup, DR and Archival Strategy
Although cloud backup, disaster recovery (DR) and archiving have existed for a while now, these segments will show drastic growth in the coming year. Backup and DR are used by companies mostly to meet compliance requirements. Businesses are rarely required to retrieve their data from backup or deploy the DR site for continuity purposes. Having an elaborate backup, DR and archiving setup that is seldom used can prove to be quite expensive in the long term. Many companies have started questioning the value of having an expensive on-premises backup and DR setup for a crisis that may or may not happen in the company’s lifetime. However, completely doing away with such a setup is a risk that companies are not willing to take. This is where the public cloud comes in. A public cloud backup, DR and archiving setup costs only 20% of an on-premises setup. And yet, it offers everything an on-premises setup has to offer. In 2014, we are likely to see more and more companies adopting a hybrid cloud backup, DR and archival strategy.

5. Reality Of Private Cloud In The Era Of Public Cloud
The commoditization of hardware and the level of control that private cloud affords are the two main reasons why medium to large businesses have been quick to adopt it as an on-premises infrastructure. However, the cost of maintenance and the resources that need to be dedicated to managing this setup are financial pain points that businesses have been unable to ignore. Now, with the rise of the public cloud, businesses, especially medium and large enterprises, have begun to question the wisdom of opting for a private cloud. The pricing structure, the ease of use, and the built-in maintenance and service features of the public cloud have resulted in more and more businesses making the move to the public cloud platform. Today, in a hybrid cloud setup, it is safe to say that the balance is in favor of private cloud. But as companies tentatively step onto the public cloud platform and find that it’s safe as well as economical, we can expect this balance to shift in favor of the public cloud. All in all, 2014 will be a testing time for the growth of private cloud in a hybrid cloud environment.