Don’t Leave Your Tinkertoys to Fend for Themselves

We’ve all been there. It’s late at night, and we’re using our company’s credit card to purchase a Jumbo Tinkertoy set from Amazon for $281.56. All right, fine, maybe that’s not what we do late at night, but we can all appreciate the purposes served by the different Tinkertoy components. What use would the rods be without the spools? The different types of Tinkertoy pieces allow for a building that has structural integrity. That same type of integrity is needed to design a hybrid cloud, so just the same, you are going to need the spools. Cloud providers have created tools to connect various cloud services – the “spools” – so that the disparities between each one don’t result in an unwieldy IT environment.

What is a Hybrid Cloud?

The hybrid cloud is getting a huge amount of attention in 2014. A Gartner analysis conducted last year argued that 50% of large enterprises would have hybrid clouds deployed by 2017.

What is the hybrid cloud? In a September 7 report for Business 2 Community, Web developer Dario Zadro noted that general discussion of cloud computing has tended to center around public clouds. In a public cloud situation, computing services are made available by a hosting provider to a sizable volume of account holders. Probably the most obvious impact of the public cloud is that it has given SMB’s the ability to experience the same scale of performance that was previously the realm of large enterprises with sophisticated arrays of dedicated machines.

Although a public cloud is incredibly cost-effective, security can only be so strong when numerous organizations are all accessing the same servers. Why then did the commander of US Cyber Command, Gen. Keith Alexander, support the expansion of cloud computing within the Department of Defense in 2011? The Department of Defense is not using the cloud within a public setting, but within a private atmosphere. With that setup, the Pentagon is able to take advantage of the speed and adaptability of cloud technology alongside security parameters they established themselves.

It should be immediately obvious that both of these two types of cloud have their strong and weak suits. You don’t always need the extreme security precautions available with a private cloud, but for sensitive user data and mission-critical files, it might make sense. The hybrid cloud is the truly nebulous middle option. You can mix and match public and private clouds into one complete hybrid cloud infrastructure. It’s easy to see why this system could appeal to a wide spectrum of businesses, of any size.

Problems Faced by CIOs & How Integration Tools Help

The role of the CIO has changed rapidly, in pace with the rise of cloud computing. IBM’s Frank De Gilio commented in an August Wired article that CIOs used to be charged with setting up internal computer resources for the company’s departments and maintaining everything within a specified budget. Although the budgetary constraints of that task could sometimes be challenging, it’s now become just one piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

In the current climate, a CIO experiences some departments choosing an external cloud service for their computing budget, to benefit from the performance and low cost. De Gilio argues that providers of public cloud environments aren’t as concerned with security and compliance, so they can provide faster and more robust solutions at a lower price than is available through the CIO.

As would be expected, piecemeal outsourcing of IT can create complications: “that’s when things really start to get strained.” The department turns away from the CIO to an outside party to fulfill the computing need. If anything goes wrong – such as downtime or failure, a security breach, or lack of compatibility between the public cloud and the company’s internal environment – then the issue returns squarely to the lap of the CIO for problem-solving.

In the age of the hybrid cloud, the CIO will be able to determine what makes sense to handle internally (or as a private cloud at a third party) and what makes sense to place in a public cloud setting. Furthermore, De Gilio stresses that anything external to the company should undergo rigorous vetting to answer the following three questions:

  • Is the service right for the department’s needs?
  • Can the environment be painlessly integrated with the current system?
  • Does the solution meet the overall demands of the organization?

De Gilio then goes on to tout the IBM product BlueMix, which essentially is an integration tool. That option will be especially appealing to large enterprises. SMB’s will more likely find themselves considering hybrid clouds that are provided fully by a third party. In those cases, the integration technology is built into the hybrid package.

The key point here is that the various cloud services used by a company won’t always integrate well with a business’s internal environment. You can either solve that problem with software that allows you to connect your various pieces together, or you can contract with a hosting service that specializes in the creation, maintenance, and security of hybrid clouds: Superb Internet. Talk to us today about a fully integrated cloud solution.

By Kent Roberts

Image Credit: Waly1039

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