by Matt Young is SVP and Head of APAC and Japan for Nutanix
How hybrid cloud overcame the odds to lead the race to the cloud
In the latter stages of 2018, cloud computing passed an important milestone. During the quarter, and for the first-time ever, IT infrastructure sales for cloud environments overtook revenues from sales into traditional (non-cloud) IT environments. These sales accounted for 50.9 per cent of the total worldwide IT infrastructure vendor revenues, up from 43.6 per cent a year previously.
There is little doubt that cloud computing has become mainstream and a central part of a Chief Information Officer’s (CIO) agenda as they rush to digitalise their businesses. However, knowing what to do and being able to do it in the most efficient manner are two different things; and companies face several practical hurdles in cloud adoption.
As with other technologies, one size does not fit all in cloud computing. With a wide range of services, providers and varying cloud computing environments to choose from, the central question for most CIOs is, which cloud, or combination of clouds best suit my company’s digitalisation goals?
Shifting commodity applications like web and email hosting to the public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft can be straightforward. However, business is not always that simple, and things become more complicated for other applications and data.
Stricter regulation and governance, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and corporate sensitivities around the Intellectual Property (IP) mean strict protocols to protect data in order to prevent information leakage or competitor or state disreputable acts. In many cases, it makes sense, and is desirable, to keep sensitive enterprise data on private clouds – isolated and with strict access to select groups or an organisation.
Is there a solution?
Fortunately, there is a solution. Hybrid or multi-cloud offers a route through the cloud haze. While the terms multi-cloud and hybrid cloud are often used interchangeably there are important differences between the two. Multi-cloud is more a “horizontal alignment and connection of clouds. Where the clouds are mixed and connected across multiple providers. However, the workloads remain separate and there is little or no orchestration between them.
Hybrid cloud, on the other hand, is a vertical alignment and refers to the pairing of public and private clouds, which are bound or orchestrated by proprietary technology or a fabric, that enables data and application portability. Within this environment, data is securely shared between applications sitting in either the public or private clouds. Multi-clouds are not necessarily hybrid arrangements, but hybrid clouds are always multi-cloud arrangements.
So, hybrid cloud can seamlessly combine a mix of private, public clouds as well as on-premise infrastructure. And while each of the environments has various touch points and integrations, they remain fully independent, helping prevent data leakage from one platform to the other.
According to a recent study the global hybrid cloud market is expected to grow from US$38.27 billion in 2017 to US$97.64 billion by 2023: an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent during this period. Interestingly, during the same period the overall global cloud computing market is expected to grow at a CAGR or 15 per cent. By 2020, research indicates 90 per cent of organizations will have adopted some type of hybrid cloud.
And it is that growth is attracting major public cloud computing service providers. After years of dismissing hybrid as a “niche” or “fringe” market, they are now embracing the sector aggressively by investing in, and actively pursuing hybrid cloud capabilities.
2018 saw a flurry of activity: Microsoft acquired hybrid cloud data storage and management vendor Avere. With the Redmond giant, hoping to access the Avere’s server customers to lock them into a new hybrid offering. Meanwhile, IBM made headlines when it acquired Red Hat in a major push into the market.
Even staunch public cloud stalwart Amazon Web Services (AWS), recently announced products to enable the company to provide local-plus-cloud processing of data. It hopes to use the hybrid cloud to pull companies to their public cloud. 
The fact remains, regardless of the different cloud vendor strategies, that the hybrid cloud combines public and private resources to maximize cost-savings, productivity and innovation while minimizing latency, privacy and security issues.
It’s been a long road to recognition for hybrid cloud – first ignored, then dismissed, and finally embraced. The incumbents who praised the exclusive virtues of public cloud have gone silent. Hybrid cloud is now mainstream as the rush to unlock the true value and full potential of cloud accelerates.
Many early adopters and innovators have long advocated for a hybrid paradigm, while lamenting the limitations to business of inflexibility and the “one size fits all” restriction of public cloud. It seems now, everyone else does too.
As businesses look for the freedom to invest, create and innovate -it will be left to the instant access and control of the ever-increasing cloud networks to provide that freedom. The result: software driven enterprises free to focus on enhanced customer experience and shaping the future of the business. And for that – there is only hybrid cloud.
The clash of the clouds is now in full force. All efforts, energies and entities have their sights set on the next frontier in business improvement and efficiency. And given the players that have suddenly entered the fray, the growth figures for the sector mentioned earlier may be underestimated – by a long way.