May 03, 2011, 12:19 PM — There's no question that cloud computing will be the trend to alter organizations' infrastructure the most over the next few years, especially as firms transition from basic server virtualization to the private cloud. But today these environments are still relatively immature, acting as two distinct entities; applications are deployed in one or the other. But private cloud will not be the end of the road for cloud computing. Over the next three years, leading edge IT shops will start blurring the boundaries between public and private IaaS environments, so that applications can move between them based on immediate needs and economics-known as hybrid cloud. Enterprise architects can begin planning for this now by creating a road map that lays out the necessary capabilities for a hybrid cloud and using these to evaluate the capabilities provided by today's vendors and products.
As hybrid cloud matures, capabilities will be built into a variety of product offerings, including virtualization platforms, system management suites, and add-on management tools. How each organization implements these capabilities will depend on several factors including your strategic vendors, existing IT investments, and the suitability of each vendors products and future road map. At Forrester, we see three possible scenarios for where hybrid cloud capabilities will be located in future infrastructure architecture:
Scenario 1: Virtualization Platforms Become The Core. Today, virtualization platforms from companies like VMware and Microsoft are paired with management tools to run virtual infrastructures for tasks like provisioning, configuration, capacity planning, chargeback, and monitoring for virtual systems. The ability to manage hybrid cloud environments is just now becoming a function of these platforms, with early versions focusing on a narrow group of public cloud services based on the same platforms.
Virtualization platform vendors will transition from virtualization management to suites capable of managing an entire hybrid cloud environment, requiring a greater focus on managing physical infrastructure through built-in capabilities or integration with unified infrastructure offerings like the HP Matrix or Cisco UCS Manager. Enterprise architecture professionals should monitor the ability of virtualization suites to manage a cloud environment in its entirety, including physical infrastructure. This includes asking vendors to provide road maps for supporting major cloud APIs other than their own.