Many organizations today are focused on implementing solutions that allows them to reduce capex and respond quickly to changing business needs. Because of this, public cloud services have been gaining significant adoption over the last several years. Implementing them with a well-defined strategy makes it easier to scale IT infrastructure based on current needs and simplifies delivery of services to a mobile workforce. But what happens when the public cloud service that you are using goes offline? Examples of this include the major outage to Skype this week, the 9 day Azure nightmare earlier this year, or the issues with Amazon Web Services over the last few days. The latter took the streaming video services for the Rugby World Cup offline. The unfortunate truth is that as an organization leveraging these types of services for core business operations, there is little to nothing you can do about these type of outages until the service provider finds and fixes the issues.
This leads to an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, the abstraction of underlying infrastructure and the outsourcing of its management is appealing due to the ease of service deployment and the benefit of cost savings. On the other hand, IT professionals are increasingly pointing to this very loss of control and visibility as a reason not to use public cloud services, or at least not exclusively. While it is true that a model that incorporates public cloud does introduces new and different challenges than what were previously encountered by IT organizations, the full level of control found with traditional infrastructure or even an exclusively private data center model comes at a cost in terms of resources, money and maintenance. Additionally, just as public cloud service providers have to plan for outages through redundancy, there is also a need to account for this with additional infrastructure ready and waiting to mitigate data center outages. Even if these costs can be absorbed, the elasticity and flexibility of IT infrastructure to quickly respond to business requirement changes can be a challenge to do solely on premise.
While there are challenges with either a fully public or fully private model, there is an approach that provides both the flexibility of public cloud services and the controlled availability of private infrastructure: hybrid cloud service delivery. Hybrid cloud allows IT professionals to provide services for their users without having all their “eggs in one basket”. Services can be delivered from a mix of endpoints across private clouds, public clouds and hosted infrastructure enabling for the flexible benefits of cloud delivery, while at the same time allowing mission critical services to be fully under the control of the IT team.
Organizations with a hybrid cloud delivery model for their core business applications and communications tools would plan for the rapid failover from hosted offerings to alternatives or to the same technology hosted in a different infrastructure to mitigate the impact of outages such as those seen with Skype. The same holds true for Exchange, SharePoint or other application services from Microsoft, Google, Amazon or any provider.