We’ve all heard of the cloud by now, it’s fair to say it’s now a mainstream term for many people (not including the weather!) and most would agree it’s the future. When we look specifically at enterprise IT there’s still a discussion to be had on whether you should go public cloud, private cloud or hybrid cloud. There’s even more concepts coming down the line but we’ll stick with these for the simplicity of this post. There’s always some scepticism around cloud, as there is with many ‘new’ IT concepts. But have you ever looked back and wondered if history is repeating itself?
I’m writing this as someone with 17 years in the industry and more as a hobbyist so I’ve been around long enough to work with twinax terminals, 5 1/4″ floppy disks and Windows 3.1. In that time, I’ve seen a lot of change as I’m sure you have too, change is the only constant in IT as the saying goes. Back then, even though we still had things like green screens and the Y2K bug we also started to get things like Hotmail, Yahoo! and Lycos e-mail services and soon many others jumped on board. Every internet service provider would throw in a free email account with your subscription. The concept was that you could read and send email from the internet and not need your own Exchange server, SCO mail server or whatever else. That also meant that you could travel between towns, cities and countries and still access your email when you got there – sounds a bit cloud mobility right? But for convenience, if you had a PC you could also synchronise a copy of this locally so you can read and send emails offline then when you’re next connected your emails are sent. You were controlling and consuming the stuff stored up on the internet from your own PC and this gave people options, some worked online and some worked offline.
Now, I realise I’m probably teaching grannies to suck eggs here but if we look at this conceptually then there are many similarities that we can draw between that and modern day public cloud services. Let’s not forget, the cloud is simply a concept and a concept that in one way or another has been around for a very long time. Nowadays, if you want to work in Microsoft Azure you can do this from the online portal, you can do this locally with PowerShell or by developing things like ARM templates and JSON files and when you’re connected these will run just like synchronising your email in days gone by. AzureStack offers us the next evolution in this concept by blurring the borders of public cloud and private cloud and for many will likely bring together both into a hybrid cloud and for Microsoft at least, that’s a bit part of their future. There are lots of other technologies out there which follow the same pattern and hopefully you can see that. It gives us options right? The best of both worlds.
So, having given this some thought I do believe that hybrid cloud is indeed the future of enterprise IT, but it’s also in some ways the past.