The future value of hybrid cloud computing is to empower customers to embrace a cloud strategy of their own, versus being dictated by a vendor. A hybrid cloud environment is defined by the customer—a hybrid cloud solution should not dictate where or which cloud the customer must use with their on-premise installation. Although this may seem obvious, large vendors often ignore this critical point, as they dictate choices based on their (lack of) capabilities.
So what can hybrid cloud analytics offer?
Cloud—A Delivery Mechanism, Not a Solution
A number of market entrants that were born in the cloud use that as their core differentiation. Cloud computing is a delivery vehicle. Simple visualizations of data via the cloud are not going to drive business value. Customers need both a broad and deep analytical approach to better visualize, explore, and understand their data. This is important to become more informed, gain new insights, and make better decisions to derive real business value through analytics. Having a dumbed-down analytics solution that is delivered via the cloud is going to keep you behind your competition. With that said, there is value in cloud delivery of world-class analytics, which many customers currently deploy on their own private clouds.
Choice—A Hybrid Approach to Analytics Just Makes Sense
Today, companies need a choice of deployment options, whether on-premise or in a private cloud, leveraging the infrastructure of their choice. They get to choose where they want analytics to run. However, the truth is that an either/or choice does not truly represent where the vast majority of customers are today in their IT investments and where they plan to be over time. Most customers have both data and applications that run on-premise, behind their firewall, as well as data and applications that both originate and run in the cloud. The world is not simply black and white; it has many shades of gray. A true hybrid approach is required to help support where customers are today, as well as help them prepare and migrate over time to move more of their workloads off-premise. A hybrid cloud approach to analytics is key to enabling a customers’ cloud strategy and not dictating it. This is the key reason that the future is pointing toward hybrid cloud analytics.
Hybrid Cloud Analytics—Full Centralized Control of All Data, Wherever It Resides
The simple definition of hybrid cloud is a computing environment that uses a mix of on-premise, private cloud, and/or public cloud infrastructure to deliver services, with orchestration between the platforms. Hybrid cloud joins together multiple clouds—or on-premise installations—with cloud-based installations. Under that general definition, many vendors will claim “hybrid cloud analytics” in their marketing verbiage. Although being able to publish an analytical application (or sheet, for some) from an on-premise installation to a cloud offering could be valuable, it is not hybrid cloud analytics.
Where the data resides in a true hybrid cloud analytics solution should not matter to the users who could access it from any device based on their role and security permissions. A properly governed solution allows you to define rules around where data and/or the analysis on that data can be stored or run: Users can create enforcement rules on where things can and will reside based on the sensitivity and security of that dataset. It should be easy to manage user entitlements and licensing between the platforms. A hybrid cloud analytics solution must allow for bidirectional migration to and from one infrastructure environment to another and should be managed as one seamless environment across infrastructure boundaries via a single console.
In order to provide a true hybrid cloud analytics solution, there are few key ingredients that should be used to define the approach.
A hybrid cloud analytics solution is completely transparent to the end users in terms of where the data resides and where the analysis happens. Any user should be able to access his or her environment, from any device, and choose what data and/or applications he or she wants to view and interact with, regardless of where it sits and runs. Users should have a universal hub which represents everything available to them based on their role and security permissions, not the location of where things reside and run.
For many reasons, customers will choose that specific data sources, and/or the analysis that is run against those data sources, should stay in a particular environment. Typically, they want to restrict data, and/or the analytical applications with that data, to an on-premise environment behind their own firewall. This may be due to several reasons, including industry regulations or data that represents a company’s most secret competitive advantage. Regardless, a properly governed solution enables organizations to define rules around where data, and/or the analysis on that data, can be stored or run. For example, you might decide that a particular data source is too sensitive to allow outside of the firewall, and that any analytical application that uses that data source should therefore run behind the firewall. By simply designating this in a management console, you can create enforcement rules on where things can and will reside based on that dataset.
One obvious need is for organizations to be able to easily manage entitlements and licensing for their user base across the hybrid cloud solution. This is a basic element of “orchestration between the platforms.”
If the whole point is to enable customers to choose where data and analysis should occur, based on their own criteria, then the solution must allow for bidirectional migration to and from one infrastructure environment to another in the hybrid cloud deployment.
Single Management Console
A hybrid cloud analytical solution should be managed as one seamless environment across infrastructure boundaries, meaning it should be managed via a single console. Period.
When thinking about a long-term hybrid cloud analytics strategy, here are the questions that need to be answered by teams and vendors:
- Can the users access data from any device based on their role and security permissions and not be limited by restrictions of where data resides?
- Can we define rules around where data and/or the analysis on that data can be stored or run?
- Can we create enforcement rules on where things can and will reside based on the sensitivity and security of that dataset?
- Can we manage user entitlements and licensing between the platforms?
- Can we migrate data to and from one infrastructure environment to another?
- Can we manage all our data in one seamless environment across cloud and on-premise infrastructure?
Not surprisingly, with all the momentum in hybrid cloud infrastructure, we’re starting to hear the term “hybrid cloud analytics” pop up more often in the modern business intelligence market. However, it’s a term that is being overused and misunderstood as those in the industry seek to align with the latest trend. With an overview of what a hybrid cloud solution provides, a clear customer-defined strategy, and key questions to keep in mind, users will have the right tools to seamlessly integrate their on-premise installations with public or private cloud.
As IT leaders seek to safeguard their data while gaining flexibility and scalability for more self-service use of data in the cloud, it is clear that hybrid cloud analytics is where the future is headed.