Forrester: You're already hybrid, even if you don't think so

Forrester's James Staten said that it's unrealistic to think that the world will go 100 percent cloud

There's still lots of talk about hybrid cloud: do you want it, how will you implement it, which vendors can handle it.

But Forrester’s James Staten has a very different take on the world. “You’re already hybrid and you better deal with it,” he said. “It’s not a future state.” Staten talked about hybrid, public and private clouds in a conversation with Rackspace’s John Engates that’s available online.

“Some capabilities will stay right where they are 20 years from now because it makes more sense,” he said.

james staten_0.jpgSource: cloudconnectevent, via Flickr
Forrester analyst James Staten

Plus, he said that any company using a SaaS app likely has a hybrid environment. “I can almost guarantee you that the app is talking to something else in your data center,” he said.

He advises companies to accept the idea that their environments will consist of apps hosted in a variety of ways, including on premise and in various hosting facilities. He suggests that companies “get on top of the problem right now.”

“You need to think from the beginning, ‘I’m going to have this portfolio of places where apps live and I need to focus on how do I manage and maintain the relationship between the components that are going to call each other,’” he said.

Addressing this issue now will help down the road, he said. One company he knows of has 17 SaaS applications that communicate with its ERP system in 17 different ways. "That's a problem," he said. Instead, that business should have one architecture that it can monitor in one place, rather than having to manage all 17 communications.

Envisioning a hybrid environment also takes some of the pressure off IT. “Hybrid is a tool to combat the natural tendency of IT to think ‘migrate.’ Because migrate isn’t what this is about. It’s about creating the right architectures that support applications and the evolution of apps and services in a company over time,” Staten said.

If Staten is right, that most companies already have a hybrid setup, a study released today would show that there is confusion about hybrid. The study, commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by The 451 Group, showed that 68 percent of businesses in the study say they plan to adopt a hybrid cloud model in the next two years, up from 49 percent today. The study surveyed 1,500 businesses of all sizes around the world.

Also, if hybrid is here to stay, the implications for the vendor landscape get interesting. Companies like Rackspace and Microsoft talk about the variety of services they offer. While these companies surely make more money off some services than others, they can serve customers no matter how they want to run their apps – in a hosted environment, a public cloud or various private cloud setups.

Some of other vendors that don't offer everything under the sun might try steering customers in one direction or another, based on their offerings. But as more companies realize they'll use a variety of cloud environments, those vendors will start to realize they need that variety of offerings. Let the consolidation begin...

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring and on Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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