Hybrid is Taking Us Back to the Future

04-Nov-2013

/// The physical server has always been the combustion engine of hosting, but end users can now run on either dedicated machines or the alternative fuel of virtualized resources.

Customers generally leased physical servers to host the content and applications delivered over the Internet, but virtualization now makes it unnecessary to lease entire boxes. Some virtual resources are relatively static, or can be highly scalable and flexible--characteristics typically referred to as “cloud.”

Until recently, the option was to purchase one or the other.  Lease a physical machine or rent a virtual or cloud infrastructure service. The choice could be driven by preference or compliance considerations, but for the most part technical requirements dictated. But now, we’re seeing more and more hybridization. The driving force behind hybrid the need to find most hospitable and optimal venue by matching up requirements with infrastructure.

Dedicated servers, for example, are a great fit for many high-capacity workloads. They excel at running IOPS-intensive applications like databases, mission-critical applications like e-commerce or transaction-heavy websites. On the other hand, applications that require flexibility, rapid scaling or have seasonal variations are ideally suited for virtual infrastructure.

In hybrid scenarios, the two come together to deliver a superior solution. Hybrid allows organizations to optimize their performance and manage costs by combining both physical and virtual – and likely both on-premises and off – infrastructure to meet specific requirements of each use case. In a bit of an oversimplification, it is like getting the best of both worlds: the speed, stability and robustness of bare metal with the scalability, efficiency, redundancy and cost advantages of cloud.

For the most part, hybrid scenarios today are not cleanly automated. A typical hybrid setup requires designing and building out an infrastructure environment made up of unlike parts. The IOPS-intensive requirements will run on bare metal and the front-end web application will run on virtual or cloud. Despite being different types of infrastructure, the whole scenario is fully integrated and the disparate pieces communicate over a single private network.

However, things are about to change very quickly. Signs point to the diversity of infrastructure types merging into a single experience on the front and back ends. In contrast to much of what we see today, the future of hybrid is highly automated and tightly integrated.

Spinning up and scaling hybrid infrastructure will be done automatically through a few point and clicks or a fully featured API. It will mature to the point where it becomes a single experience and end users control everything through a single “pane of glass” – a unified portal. Customers will experience one user interface, and provisioning, management and billing will run on the back-end off the same infrastructure delivery platform.  

In the early days, customers ran with a single form factor, and infrastructure scaling was a manual process. The emergence of virtualization and cloud made things more complex, and infrastructure became dispersed and disaggregated. Hybrid will take us back to the future with the various pieces consolidating into a single experience – much like that standalone dedicated physical server that got it all started. 


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