“Hybrid Cloud” – In a Class By Itself

You’ve probably read the NIST’s definitions of Cloud Deployment Models, including their definition of hybrid cloud. If not, here’s a refresher:

Hybrid cloud. The cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities, but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds).

I’ve already commented on the ambiguity surrounding the meaning of private and public cloud. (Although the NIST is fairly clear about them, meanings have eroded through general misuse, much as premise has sadly become acceptably synonymous with premises.) Hybrid, I’m afraid, has its own issues, primarily because it is in the same list with public and private. Of the four, only hybrid is defined in terms of the others. (“Baaaaad NIST!”)

Hybrid isn’t a kind of cloud deployment. It is an advanced form of coordinating multiple deployments, regardless of their specific individual attributes.  As such, it probably belongs in a category all its own, distinct from the three individual types of clouds NIST has identified. The industry is hung up on private-to-public hybrid scenarios, most likely due to the cloud bursting scenario which epitomizes hybrid deployments for so many.  But, according to NIST, if I’m using two public clouds together, that’s hybrid.  If I’m using my private cloud in conjunction with someone else’s, that’s hybrid.  Wherever two or more distinct clouds are used in composition, there also is hybrid.

(An aside: The degree of integration required between the two-or-more clouds to qualify together as a hybrid cloud is either “proprietary or standardized.”  That’s pretty ambiguous, too.  I suspect screen-scraping qualifies as “proprietary” so I believe nearly everyone is “doing hybrid” to some extent today, whether they know it or not.)

So me must stop thinking of hybrid cloud as something sitting on the same shelf with public and private – it’s is much more than “just another cloud deployment model.” It transcends those concepts. We must also stop thinking of it as “coming in the future” – it is already here, and continues to mature in degree of integration and ease of use with each passing day.

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