When I talk to companies with established legacy infrastructure on which their business depends, I often hear something like the following: “In theory, we’d love to use the cloud, but it’s way too complex and risky to move.” Their current infrastructure and the applications it supports are working now — however unsatisfactorily — and making the move would throw a cat among the pigeons, leading to potential operational disruption.
Most of the people I talk to understand and are enthusiastic about the benefits of the cloud, but they’re happy to put off cloud adoption to some indeterminate point in the future. I think that’s a mistake. Cloud platforms bring concrete operational and financial benefits to businesses. I understand that IT departments and executives can’t simply click their fingers and “go cloud”, but there are other approaches they could take.
Bimodal IT is the use of two separate and distinct modes of IT delivery. The company keeps its existing infrastructure, but uses cloud platforms where possible and appropriate.
Mode 1, which can be thought of as the legacy mode, is focused on stability. Legacy infrastructure is maintained just as it’s always been maintained. Availability and stability are core values.
Mode 2 emphasises agility and uses the cloud to provide a highly flexible infrastructure base for development, experimentation, and applications for which the particular strengths of the cloud make a real difference.
It’s important to understand that Bimodal IT involves a more or less complete separation between the two modes, which has the potential to increase operational complexity. The upside is that it allows companies to maintain existing systems while developing a culture that is capable of making the most of cloud infrastructure deployment.
Hybrid cloud is a modality that joins together on-premise operations and public or private cloud deployments within the same system. Hybrid clouds aren’t the same as Bimodal IT because the cloud and existing infrastructure are combined into a single system without strict boundaries.
Hybrid cloud is the best choice for a number of scenarios:
- Data privacy. Data that companies want to keep within their own network can be, while workloads that aren’t so sensitive can be launched on elastic public cloud platforms.
- Batch vs. Real time. Many companies have legacy systems based on batch processing of data (banks are a typical example). However, modern users often demand real time applications. A hybrid approach allows companies to maintain legacy batch operations while leveraging the cloud for scalable real time operations.
The benefits of cloud platforms are clear. Industry trends indicate that in the future, hybrid clouds will become the norm, and companies that fail to make moves towards integrating cloud infrastructure are likely to be left behind.