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Forecast: Partly Cloudy – Hybrid Solutions Offer Best of Both Worlds
By Frank J. Ohlhorst
January 20, 2011 - Article

Many solution providers are finding that the cloud can be a powerful ally for deploying services and applications. However, the cloud is not without its limitations and complications that make it less than ideal for certain solutions. In those cases, solution providers turn to traditional methods, eschewing the cloud and along with it, potential recurring revenue streams.

Surprisingly, there are many situations where the cloud doesn’t measure up. Take, for example, businesses continuity, disaster recovery and data backup solutions — here, the sheer amount of data in motion can overcome available bandwidth, making it impossible to move all of a company’s data onto a cloud service in a reasonable amount of time.

The cloud’s struggles do not end there; solution providers are finding that the cloud may not deliver an acceptable end-user experience to businesses using enterprise application delivery services, virtual desktops, hosted communications solutions and infrastructure management.

However, thanks to some creative thinking on the part of cloud services providers, there is a way to overcome bandwidth, latency and other dataflow problems and still leverage the benefits of the cloud. It all comes down to a simple matter of physics — the closer the resource is located to the end-user and the larger the data path, the better the performance. The solution comes in the form of a hybrid deployment, where onsite hardware, local cloud services and public cloud services come together into a single, cohesive solution.

Marrying the Physical and the Virtual. Although integrating solutions across platforms is nothing new, the nature of the cloud creates unique challenges when combining the virtual technologies of the cloud with physical devices. What’s more, the dynamics of billing for the services can change significantly. Bringing hardware, software and service costs together into a single monthly fee can be a complex endeavor, requiring someone to outlay the funds for the initial investment, for what may be a depreciable asset.

Before delving into the realm of hybrid clouds, it is important to comprehend cloud services. There are three primary layers of the cloud services stack, which Forrester Research defines as:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) — end-user applications, delivered as a service rather than as on-premises software
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) — application platform or middleware on which developers can build and operate custom applications delivered as a service
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) — compute, storage or other IT infrastructure delivered as service rather than as dedicated capability. 
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