As the corporate world experiences an accelerated digital transformation owing to fundamental changes in workplace and consumer habits, most enterprises are adopting the cloud to pave the way for this change.
However, choosing to grow with the cloud comes with its own set of challenges that makes skeptics out of believers. Earlier, it was a binary choice between a public cloud and a private cloud (or expansion of the on-premises infrastructure). On the other hand, in a hybrid cloud, the benefits of public cloud, namely lower TCO (total cost of ownership), agility and higher speed, get married with the security, compliance and on-demand geographical data access provided by a private cloud.
The use cases for hybrid cloud go way beyond the obvious. Apart from the apparent adopters like telecom operators and the gaming industry due to the low latency it offers, we see financial institutions and media entertainment houses, which struggle with strict compliance and data residency rules, adopting hybrid cloud. This enables them to innovate at a higher pace while still complying with regional data laws.
The hybrid cloud ecosystem is undergoing critical changes, with major public cloud providers offering customized solutions for those opting for hybrid cloud deployments. The emergence of Hybrid Cloud as a Service in the past two years has morphed into a more sophisticated bundle of offerings to accommodate varied workloads while driving cloud adoption. We expect a majority of enterprises to move to this medium in a multi-cloud environment in the next three years.
Cloud providers are increasingly focusing on multiple vendor partnerships to offer full-stack solutions that boost interoperability. This need for a symbiotic relationship is driven by the fact that the security and privacy of data is the most important resource while evaluating IT infrastructure. Therefore, the gaps in the public cloud are seemingly filled with hybrid cloud solutions.
Some recent industry examples include IBM’s acquisition of RedHat, HPE’s partnership with Nutanix, VMWare Cloud on AWS, Netapp with Equinix, and Istio–Google partnership with Cisco. These partnerships are driven by the confluence of the following trends prevailing in the industry:
- Accelerated rate of 5G adoption: According to Counterpoint estimates, in Q1 2021, every one out of three smartphones sold was 5G enabled. In evolved markets like the US, Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, the sales were past the 50% mark and adoption levels nearing 80%.
As the emerging economies embrace 5G, the onslaught of data generated will push telcos to turn to hybrid cloud infrastructure to quickly meet the rising demand and region-specific data compliance agreements.
- Rise of AI and ML workloads: AI-specific workloads have increased considerably in the past two years. AI/ML workloads require modern IT infrastructure to glean insights from them. It is evidenced by the rise of AI/ML as-a-Service segment in major cloud providers’ portfolios. As the enterprises focus on application development to support product releases enabled by AI insights, the focus shifts from IT infra handling to DevOps Productivity. The hybrid cloud enables the enterprises to focus on the application while taking away the pain of being a Data Center Manager!
- Edge compute: The unprecedented volumes of data generated at the edge are accelerated by 5G and are outpacing the traditional compute infrastructure. Real-time data analysis has transitioned from ‘should have’ to ‘must have’ for the enterprises. Counterpoint estimates that IoT shipments have increased ~25% in the last two years. We see cloud providers increasingly offering specialized Edge services – AWS IoT Greengrass, Azure IoT, IBM Edge Computing, HPE IoT and many more. In fact, nowadays almost every player has a service catering to Edge compute.
Companies are increasingly adopting this ‘best of both worlds’ solution called the hybrid cloud, which drives their IT and business priorities. We believe that this trend will accelerate even further as 5G penetrates globally and enterprises reach turnaround points in their digital transformation journey.
The interesting thing to look forward to as 2021 rolls into its latter half will be the introduction of Specific Workloads aaS (as a service) at Edge and the offerings of hybrid cloud supporting multi-cloud environment.