Opinion: why there are a million clouds on the horizon

By Lew Moorman
04 Jul 2013 View Comments
lew-moorman-rackspace

There are a million clouds gathering, each designed for a specific purpose. This shift is happening now. Customers crave a blend of public and private clouds and bare-metal dedicated servers, alone and in combination, based on which is the best fit for their applications or workloads. This is the hybrid cloud - and it's super powerful.

Further reading

This hybrid clouds revolution is fuelled by customers' growing list of diverse requirements for cloud computing. As organisations grow, their computing needs change. A one-size-fits-all public cloud is not the answer. The large-scale public clouds offered by major vendors, including Rackspace and Amazon, cannot do it all, nor will they be able to in the future. There will be distinct clouds for different industries, different apps and different workloads; there will be numerous providers offering these clouds; and there will be countless possible architectures to make sure each specific cloud is the perfect fit for that customer's needs. In a million cloud world, every business, regardless of its size, will have a cloud built specifically for it.

Another important factor is the advent of true cloud interoperability and portability, thanks to open source cloud operating systems such as OpenStack. By enabling different types of clouds to be interconnected and work together, these operating systems lay the foundation for the hybrid cloud and arm customers with the ability to run the cloud they need when, where and how they need it.

The limits of the public cloud
There's no question that the public cloud revolutionised computing by creating a multi-tenant, generalised computing platform. The public cloud blazed the trail for one of the most dramatic IT shifts in history. It brought tremendous benefits in terms of speed, on-demand capacity and low unit costs. But it's a generalised system for common use and organisations are forced fit their applications to the public cloud. This trade-off made sense (and still does) for some workloads, but not for all. As a business scales, specialised single-tenant computing in the form of private clouds and dedicated bare-metal servers can create massive gains in performance, reliability, security and ultimately cost.

For example, in its early days, inbound marketing software provider HubSpot put much of its IT infrastructure in the public cloud. Like many hyper-growth companies, HubSpot found that the public cloud was initially the best place for its own software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, as well as its website and databases. However, as the company grew further, it became clear that a hybrid cloud solution would be the best way to regain control over its infrastructure and ensure high quality service delivery. Now, a blend of public cloud, private cloud and bare metal dedicated servers allows HubSpot to handle rapidly expanding and changing workloads as it broadens its product offerings and its customer base diversifies. HubSpot is just one of hundreds of examples of companies that outgrew the public cloud and needed more.

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