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Hybrid cloud technology takes center stage in 2015

The hype surrounding public cloud has died down, as customers are targeting hybrid cloud technology for its flexibility and to keep some data securely on premises.

Hybrid cloud technology was on the upswing in 2015, as more companies chose to adopt this model for its flexibility, better time to recovery for data and the need to keep certain information secure.

"From a demand perspective, it has been particularly pronounced for us," said Simon Wheeler, senior staff program product manager at Seagate Technology LLC. "Especially as we move more into the enterprise, the demand for hybrid has increased for us. Our customers are demanding that deployment flexibility, depending on the business case. Time to recovery is a key driver for on premises. Data restores have different economics, whether you do it on premises or in the cloud."

The growth in hybrid cloud technology was evident in both new vendor offerings and acquisitions. IBM acquired Cleversafe to bolster its hybrid cloud technology. Cleversafe was among the earliest object storage startups, and IBM is folding the technology into its IBM Cloud business unit.

Storage vendor NetApp launched Data Fabric Solutions Essentials, which are bundled kits designed to help customers implement hybrid cloud storage using NetApp storage hardware and its Cloud Ontap software. The company had launched its Cloud Data Fabric in 2014 to streamline data management between on-premises and cloud storage.

EMC pooled resources from its storage portfolio, VMware and other companies under the EMC umbrella to enhance its Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud. EMC identified large hybrid cloud customers, such as the University of North Texas; healthcare analytics firm Inovalon; Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings; and Canadian healthcare service provider eHealth Saskatchewan, based in Regina, Sask.

Startup Rubrik introduced its Rubrik r300 Series Hybrid Cloud Appliance loaded with the company's flagship Converged Data Management platform. Network-attached storage acceleration vendor Avere Systems forged strategic collaborations with three major public cloud vendors -- Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure -- with the Avere Virtual FXT, CloudFusion and FlashCloud software.

Rebecca Thompson, vice president of marketing at Avere Systems, said the company's sales pipeline for new revenue has gone from 100% on premises two years ago to 60% that want hybrid cloud technology.

"Many have a huge investment in infrastructure already," she said. "They want to continue to use it until it's not useable. They either want to use the public cloud for storage or compute, or both."

George Crump, president of Storage Switzerland LLC, said the use of hybrid cloud technology also depends on the size of the company. Generally, small businesses with less than 20 TB will stick with the public cloud, but when the data gets to between 25 TB and 50 TB, the cost model for the public cloud becomes an issue.

"The cost model gets broken to keep data in the cloud," he said.

Crump attributes the surge in hybrid cloud to customers recognizing how to best take advantage of the cloud.

"I think common sense finally sunk in," he said. "People understand it is a tool. It's a good tool, but it's not the only tool."

Next Steps

What to consider before carrying out a hybrid cloud project

How security changes in a hybrid cloud environment

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Dig Deeper on Hybrid cloud storage