One of the most interesting stories about this came to me at a security conference several years ago. It was about a couple of engineers working for a large pharma company that needed to analyze a new drug. They went to IT and were quoted a cost of over a $100,000 and a time frame of six-to-nine months. They went to a cloud provider using credit cards and completed the project in three weeks for a cost of $3,500. At a companywide event they shared an award for saving the firm money only to be fired the following day for breaching company security because, apparently, the work had been done on machines in Eastern Europe, which weren’t adequately protected, putting the entire project at risk.
[ Related: How secure is the hybrid cloud? ]
Even though this kind of an exposure was common it wasn’t unusual for an internal audit review flagging excessive credit card use to turn up massive unauthorised Amazon or Salesforce implementations as employees went around IT to use unapproved Cloud services. We’d had a big shift of financial control to line organisations and these folks were using that power to build little secret and often illegal roads around IT.
The birth of the hybrid Cloud
These employee acts coupled with the security, data privacy, reliability, performance and economic concerns, which often can be fluid, created a need for some kind of IT managed bridge between “the Cloud” and traditional IT resources giving birth to the concept of the hybrid Cloud. This is basically a virtual service under IT control that shifts loads from a variety of on premise resources to a variety of Cloud resources based on an increasingly complex rule set that ideally balances compliance, security, privacy and reliability against cost.
Applications and data that trend to being pervasive are moved toward Cloud models, applications that trend toward security and mission critical needs may be more pervasive on-premises, but the capability to move rapidly while assuring uptime is core to the overall effort.
The future of the hybrid Cloud owes its success to the mainframe of the past
It is amazing to me that the concept for “the Cloud” goes back almost to my birth and has at its core the very elements that first gave us enterprise computing and IT (though we called it MIS back then).
This concept is particularly attractive to multinational companies which have the greatest need for a variety of flexible services and, as a result, they will likely prefer an equally multinational provider who can not only embrace both traditional and cloud resources, but provide them in close proximity to the enterprise’s locations that need it, but has at its heart the concept that forms the core of the Cloud, the mainframe.
This is not just because the mainframe is what the Cloud concept that Licklider’s Intergalactic Computer Network came from, but because it was also created with a huge focus on the kinds of I/O the user needs and the reliability and security IT requires. Granted it had to evolve to include flexibility but that speaks to the last four or so decades of its evolution.
In short, ironically, the most capable hybrid Cloud provider of the future could owe its success to the strongest mainframe provider of the past. Funny how we tend to go full circle.