Demand for cloud specialists across all areas of cloud only continues to grow as 2021 progresses. As ITJobsWatch notes, demand for say, AWS DevOps Engineers has leapt +281 places in the rankings of top IT jobs in demand in the past 6 months alone. It’s safe to say that cloud professionals to fill the growing number of jobs in cloud are in high demand all round.
Another fascinating facet of cloud that has seen a +17 leap in the IT jobs keyword rankings, is hybrid cloud. Here we explore what hybrid cloud is by focusing on what it does, as well as its key benefits and drawbacks. We also share some insights from Toby Ranson, Xcede’s Business manager across European Contract roles.
What is Hybrid Cloud?
Broadly (and traditionally), Microsoft defines hybrid cloud as ‘a computing environment that combines an on-premises datacentre (also called a private cloud) with a public cloud, allowing data and applications to be shared between them’.
As Toby Ranson, our Business manager at Xcede across Europe suggests,
“Hybrid cloud is an organization’s in-house hardware linked to one or more public cloud sites, i.e., AWS, Azure, GCP, IBM etc. via a Wide Area Network (WAN).”
Rather than having one specific definition, we can instead think of hybrid cloud as an architectural solution. Defining it as both a ‘solution’ and ‘strategy’, Citrixdiscusses hybrid cloud as combination of ‘private cloud with one or more public cloud services, with proprietary software enabling communication between each distinct service.’
Every Cloud Is Unique
As RedHat notes, ‘every cloud is unique’ and ‘there's no one-size-fits-all cloud architecture’. Broadly, RedHat defines hybrid cloud as an ‘IT architecture that incorporates some degree of workload portability, orchestration, and management across 2 or more environments’, although, this varies depending on who you ask.
This could be a combination of at least one private cloud and one public cloud, two or more private clouds, two or more public clouds, or a different combination depending on the needs of your business.
As Toby Ranson notes:
“Hybrid cloud is not actually a technology; it is a combination of different technologies. It is usually comprised of two cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure, one being private and one being public, and then the orchestration tools that support each platform.”
This is why, as RedHat suggests, it is much more useful to define hybrid cloud by ‘what it does’ rather than ‘what it is’ in one particular case. A hybrid cloud should ‘connect multiple computers through a network, consolidate IT resources, be able to move workloads between environments, and incorporate a single, unified management tool’ amongst other processes.
The Benefits of Hybrid Cloud
There is of course a wide variety of reasons to move to hybrid cloud depending on your business needs and budget. General benefits include everything from greater flexibility and disaster recovery to cost savings and globalisation.
Microsoft suggests that whatever the hybrid cloud definition you use, the benefits remain the same; ‘when computing and processing demand increases beyond an on-premises datacentre’s capabilities, businesses can use the cloud to instantly scale capacity up or down to handle excess capacity’. This means they save the time and cost of ‘purchasing, installing, and maintaining new servers that they may not always need.’
Whatever hybrid cloud you have in place, flexibility is one of the one of the most important benefits it can deliver. As Citrix mentions, having a hybrid cloud strategy in place gives businesses ‘greater flexibility by moving workloads between cloud solutions as needs and costs fluctuate’.
Having flexibility is key for many businesses, especially those whose cloud needs fluctuate greatly throughout the year; here, it makes sense to use a more flexible, cost-saving model. As Citrix notes, ‘most businesses do not utilize the same level of computation power every day’, so having a flexible model which you can adjust according to your business’s fluctuating computational needs is as useful as it is cost efficient.
Toby Ranson suggests:
“Implementing hybrid cloud is all about aggregating and integrating the capabilities and services of cloud providers with on-premises or managed infrastructure resources.
Many companies are looking to move into hybrid cloud as it offers more flexibility by using multiple platforms, and these in turn help to reduce costs.”
Data Control and Security
Hybrid cloud also brings with it benefits from a data control, storage, and security perspective. As Citrix notes, hybrid cloud gives ‘businesses greater control over their private data’ as ‘an organization can store sensitive data on a private cloud or local data centre and simultaneously leverage the robust computational resources of a managed public cloud.’ This is because ‘hybrid cloud relies on a single plane of management, unlike a multi-cloud strategy wherein admins must manage each cloud environment separately’.
Another facet of this benefit is the control over data security. As Microsoft notes, if your business works with sensitive data, be that in FinTech, government organisation, or within healthcare, ‘hybrid may be their best cloud option’.
Although some data may be required to ‘be stored on-premises’ due to regulatory or compliance requirements, less sensitive data may be able to be stored on the cloud. Hybrid cloud gives organisations the flexibility of using ‘public cloud for less regulated computing tasks, while still meeting their industry requirements’ and storing specific types of regulated or sensitive data on-premises.
The Drawbacks of Hybrid Cloud
As with the benefits, there are some drawbacks to using hybrid cloud, which can include anything from added complexity, data transfer bottlenecks, and wrapping up.
This added complexity can also incur costs. Even if additional costs are written off as a short-term problem (as in the future, hybrid cloud may make for more cost-effective and flexible management when it is implemented and managed properly), this aspect may be a barrier for smaller businesses implementing it in the first place.
As Tom Taulli notes in Forbes, ‘the fact is that there is much heavy lifting with integration… has its own risks. The costs are usually higher and there is less agility as well fewer functions and features when compared to the pure cloud.’
There is also a skills shortage issue in relation to the specialists needed to design, implement, and manage a given business’s unique cloud solution. Speaking to Thomvest Ventures’s Umesh Padval, Forbes notes, ‘there are the issues of having enough people with the right technical skills… Enterprises need to use consulting services initially as well as professional services from the vendors providing hybrid solutions while developing their own expertise over time.” That’s why cloud specialists are in such high demand.
Jobs in Demand
As mentioned previously, ITJobsWatch rankings reveal just how critical the current need is for cloud specialists across all aspects of cloud computing. Speaking to Toby Ranson about demand across specific roles, he notes:
“Demand we have had and still have is for Cloud engineers, DevOps engineers, Cloud solution architects”.
Toby discusses specifically, a focus on AWS.
“AWS holds a significant proportion of the market here, as Citrix notes, AWS is currently the largest public cloud in the world and it controls over 40% of the cloud market right now.
This is supposed to be a turning year for Azure and Google Cloud, who are going to begin to dominate the market more, and companies are going to start to move away from AWS and look at these new platforms. In many cases, they can be easier to manage.
The searching of candidates for AWS-related roles isn't really that difficult because obviously there's such a big market presence.”
Discussing present challenges around hiring new candidates across all cloud areas, Toby notes that it is finding candidates with specific language skills who also possess the correct technical knowledge that can be particularly challenging.
“Many clients are looking for candidates with a specific industry specific focus, perhaps an AWS architect or a DevOps engineer who comes from an insurance or a public sector role, on top of having specific language skills. Finding German-speaking candidates is probably our biggest challenge when it comes to new candidate generation”.
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