Building Bridges Between the Clouds

It appears that the debate over public vs. private clouds is over, and the winner is: hybrids.

In reality, there never was a choice between one version of the cloud and another. Public clouds can do wonderful things for your enterprise, but only if they have access to your internal infrastructure. That infrastructure, in turn, is most receptive to public cloud services and features if it can adapt to cloud-based architectures.

So it would seem, then, that the hybrid cloud, and in particular the point where data and applications make the switch between internal and external resources, should be a key area of concern for CIOs today.

It certainly has drawn the attention of the vendor community. More and more, systems engineers and software developers are targeting the hybrid cloud as the final link to the fully integrated, dynamic cloud we’ve heard so much about.

One of the more intriguing developments of recent days is the collaboration between Akamai and Riverbed. By integrating Riverbed’s WAN optimization technology with Akamai’s carrier edge network platform, the pair hopes to build a bridge between internal and external infrastructure. The strategy has Riverbed bundling Akamai’s internet optimization software into the Steelhead appliance and Akamai doing the same for Riverbed’s WAN solution. This essentially allows Akamai’s edge presence to extend into the data center, while Riverbed gains greater access to cloud providers, effectively building an integrated protocol layer that shuttles data across the cloud.

Many of the big industry movers see the hybrid cloud as the next area for development, as well. EMC’s Joe Tucci went so far as to label the hybrid cloud the de facto standard for enterprise architectures in the coming years, with the most successful organizations being the ones that can forge federated environments with public cloud services. To that end, the company is pursuing a number of partnerships aimed at bringing content management, storage tiering, resource/infrastructure management and other tools to the VCUBE hybrid cloud architecture.

And the public cloud industry itself is very keen on developing hybrid cloud capabilities within its customer base, if only to extend the flexibility and scalability of their own services. Tools like Scribe Software’s Scribe Online suite enable PaaS services to integrate their applications with on-premise ERP, CRM and related platforms. The most recent version includes Scribe Online Replication Services (SORS), which supports data replication, migration and integration for improved monitoring, analysis and business intelligence across multiple cloud platforms.

It could very well be that the public/private/hybrid paradigm will emerge as the new three-legged stool for the enterprise — the cloud’s version of servers/storage/networking. If that’s the case, it would probably help out a lot if we stopped pitting public and private clouds against each other and  start talking about building optimal, integrated data environments.

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