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Microsoft: Some Don't Realize They Have a Hybrid Cloud

Most organizations have either deployed their first hybrid cloud or intend to do so within the next 12 months. But many who plan to do so may not realize they already have a hybrid cloud, according to a new report published last week by Microsoft.

The Microsoft State of the Hybrid Cloud 2017 report revealed that 63 percent of mid- and large-size enterprises already have implemented a hybrid cloud. However, Microsoft discovered that of the 37 percent claiming they haven't yet implemented their first hybrid cloud (but intend to within the next 12 months), 48 percent already unknowingly have deployed one.

Microsoft came to that conclusion, which the report noted as a surprising figure, based on the infrastructure specified among IT pros surveyed in December and January. "Odds are you've got a hybrid cloud strategy and have already started implementing this approach," said Julia White, corporate VP for the Microsoft cloud platform, in a blog post prefacing the report. "We know this because nine in ten of IT workers report that hybrid cloud will be the approach for their organizations five years from now."

Overall, the 1,175 IT pros who responded to Microsoft's survey had similar definitions of hybrid cloud -- defined as some type of infrastructure that integrates an on-premises environment and a public cloud. Yet Microsoft was surprised by the disparity between that definition and reality. "It seems that while the conceptual definition of hybrid cloud is not challenging for people, identifying hybrid cloud in practice is more difficult," the report stated.

That begs the question, what are the deployed solutions that customers didn't see as a hybrid cloud? A spokeswoman for Microsoft referred to the report's appendix where it spelled out the use-case definitions. They're broken down into four categories:

  • Hybrid Applications: Any application that shares common APIs and end-user experiences with an on-premises implementation and IaaS or PaaS services. Typically, an organization can extend an application by combining on-premises data with on-demand public cloud resources when workload requirements spike.
  • Data: It's become increasingly common to use some form of public cloud to backup and/or archive data. Likewise, many mobile and Web-based front end analytics tools may run in a public cloud, even if it's querying on-premises data.
  • User: Organizations running Office 365 or using cloud-based file sharing services such as OneDrive, Box or Dropbox, are examples of those which likely have a hybrid cloud. Cloud-based directories federated with on-premises user account information, most notably Active Directory, have become popular forms of providing single sign-on to enterprise resources including SaaS-based applications and tools. Many organizations are using either Azure Active Directory or one of several third-party identity-management-as-a-service (IDMaaS) offerings.
  • Infrastructure: The ability to extend the compute capacity of an on-premises datacenter by connecting to a public cloud-based IaaS or PaaS via a dedicated gateway, network or VPN makes up a basic hybrid cloud. It's what enables the above-mentioned hybrid cloud applications. But anyone who said they are using a monitoring tool that offers visibility and/or control over both systems on-premises and in a public cloud also has a hybrid cloud, according to Microsoft. Likewise, many organizations that require near real-time recovery of on-premises data are using new disaster recovery-as-a-service offerings, which are hybrid cloud based. These DRaaS offerings are public cloud-based services capable of providing nearly synchronous replication between the two. An organization that has deployed advanced security analytics tools that provide unified views and protection against threats against any endpoint on-premises or a cloud-based resource also has a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

Is it a big deal that some might not realize they already have a hybrid cloud? Not really. IT pros are focused on building and running infrastructure and understanding how everything works. But the report underscores Microsoft's emphasis on hybrid clouds, which is evident in almost everything it, and most other companies, are developing these days. From that standpoint, the report provides a baseline for Microsoft's view of hybrid clouds with some notable data points.  

For example, it shows that the most popular use cases for hybrid clouds were (in order) productivity/collaboration, high-performance networking, SSO, DRaaS, cloud front ends to on-premises data, archiving, analytics, unified monitoring, dev test in cloud and production on-premises, advanced security and global applications.

Not surprisingly, there are notable variations depending on the industry and country the respondents were from. The 1,175 IT pros who responded were either from the U.S., U.K., India or Germany. Those in regulated industries such as banking and healthcare were among the top and retailers ranked high as well. Adoption in Germany was notably low due to data sovereignty laws, while India showed high adoption, likely because of latency issues there and the need to keep data accessible.

Deployments also varied based on the age of a company. More older companies with on-premises infrastructure have hybrid clouds than younger ones. More than half (52 percent) of companies in business for less than 10 years have hybrid clouds, while 91 percent of companies that are 25 years to 49 years old have one. Curiously, the percentage drops slightly to 84 percent among companies that are 50 years old.

Let's not forget, as Microsoft promotes hybrid clouds, its eye is toward the future. And that future is Azure, which White underscored last week, when she pointed to Microsoft's claim that organizations can save up to 40 percent on Windows Server VMs run in Azure by using existing licenses with Software Assurance. The company outlined how by introducing its new Azure Hybrid Use Benefit tool and free migration assessment tool.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/20/2017 at 12:46 PM


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