The Hybrid Cloud

images-2The “Cloud” is pretty trendy these days: the promise of “always-available” IT infrastructure is great, but in practice, there are some hiccups that may never be resolved. That is where the Hybrid Cloud comes in.

At BDPNetworks we use cloud-based services where it makes sense: our management tools have run from our own private cloud since 2004(!) and our backup systems used cloud-based offsite storage to eliminate the need to take tapes and hard drives offsite.

But now companies like Microsoft and Google are promising that you can “cloud-ize” your desktop applications: services such as Office365 (which is great, overall, by the way) allow you “always-on” access to your documents and the ability to easily share documents with your team without heavy internal IT infrastructure (such as additional servers.)

A recent trip to L.A. reminded me that the Internet is truly not “always-on” in all locations and may never be.  Physical hurdles such as concrete and steel walls will always wreak havoc on cell data and WiFi connections. Internet access is definitely not universal: the quality and speed varied widely from hotel to hotel. Some hotels I am pretty sure still use consumer-grade hardware and cheap cable internet connections: this simply isn’t enough to support even a few people streaming Netflix let alone people trying to conduct serious business.

Some suites (like Google Apps) simply can’t keep up with this. Since Google does not offer (and will never likely offer) standalone applications (such as Word and Excel) this becomes a problem when you can’t work because your Internet connection is suspect.

Fortunately, Microsoft’s Office365 embraces the best approach: The Hybrid Cloud. Hybrid cloud means some services still run locally on PCs and servers, and some services run “in the cloud.”

Going forward we think these cloud-based services can lessen our clients’ dependencies on internal servers and strengthen their productivity and collaboration. But we think it will always still require some infrastructure internally to speed up access and tolerate occasional service outages and downtime.