There’s No Accounting for the Hybrid Cloud

The cloud computing landscape of 2017 will increasingly be dominated by platform and database services supporting hybrid infrastructures, according to study conducted by IDG Connect on behalf of Oracle. According to the study, organisations are more likely to choose hybrid cloud when considering their next steps in cloud computing. Deploying more hybrid cloud services (36 percent) was selected ahead of private (32 percent) and public cloud (17 percent) services. – The Financial Times (Jan. 22, 2015)


So, as cloud computing matures, hybrid appears to have carried the day. After all, it’s right there in The Financial Times. Case closed.

But not so fast. These findings strike me as problematic – even though I believe hybrid is generally the way to go. It’s just that the term “hybrid cloud” has been stripped of any real meaning. The truth is, everything is hybrid now. It’s akin to having a conversation about breathing oxygen.

Understand first that there’s absolutely nothing new about the hybrid cloud. You’d think that accepting that fundamental fact would be self-evident, but unfortunately it’s not. The terminology is misleading and has long since ceased to describe anything specific. Accounting firms have been shifting workload to the Internet virtually forever, no pun intended. Public compute space and private compute space were coexisting when Zuckerberg was watching Sesame Street. Compute on-premises, store off-premises – we’ve all been there and done that.

Way back when the term “ASP” (as in “Application Service Provider”) was a fresh addition to the lexicon, “hybrid” did indeed mean something quite specific. The idea was that virtual machines were under a firm’s physical control in a data center – that’s where applications were hosted. And that same firm might then contract with a service provider – MSP, ASP, CSP, choose your mnemonic — to put some of that workload in the provider’s virtual environment. In other words, accounting firms built their own infrastructure and placed some applications in another virtual infrastructure – hence, “hybrid.” IT mavens would go to VMware or HP, build a virtual data center, and tie the two things together with an API. Done.

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