With the new digital age upon us, the "hybrid cloud" term is simply everywhere. In fact, hybrid models continue to rank high among the top 10 strategic technology trends. These burgeoning trends have also resulted in countless applications utilizing hybrid models - for deployment across several industries. The current craze has prompted several infrastructure providers to define what "hybrid" really means. While the definitions may differ according to varying interpretations and limitations – channel partners are also struggling to find the best hybrid solutions to best meet their customers' needs. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NSIT)*, the focus should primarily be on the cloud when defining hybrid environments. NSIT describes the "hybrid cloud" as: A combination of public, private, and community clouds that are intertwined for optimal compatibility and performance. These clouds feature cutting-edge and innovative technologies that enable data and application portability. While this effectively describes the hybrid cloud as a whole – it does not include managing and transferring applications across cloud and non-cloud environments. This is known as hybridization, which enables: A comprehensive and cohesive platform for on-premise and hosted or remote cloud solutions. A unified network that incorporates applications, programs, and features across onsite and remote cloud servers and environments. Hybrid Environments Even with the hybridization label, however, the demarcation line between onsite and off-site is rapidly diminishing. In fact, physical and local networks are now routinely extended across companies' onsite data centers and third party sites. This includes WAN, along with firewalls, storage gateways, and application-delivery controllers. These are implemented to enhance network performance, security, and ease of use. With this in mind, others describe hosting and cloud platforms as un-managed network links. This, of course, is during the initial connection – which must be streamlined and centralized to secure one consistent hybrid environment. Once the parameters and adjustments are set – the links are designed to foster network transparency across a myriad of environment. While this is the ideal scenario, communication and compatibility problems are common. This includes: Problems with linkage – inability to enforce network transparency across the board. Difficulty in provisioning, managing, and monitoring all machines and applications across third-party cloud environments. A more consistent and unified approach that engages partners, telecom agents, IT solution providers, and others involved in cloud deployment services. The Perfect Hybrid Cloud With so many definitions and options, how does one select the right hybrid cloud service or environment? According to industry experts, clients must look to the following when assessing provider abilities to deploy fully-functional hybridized solutions: Flexible Service Options Hybrid cloud providers must offer services that can meet a full range of requirements. This includes application compatibility, along with managed hosting and collocation services. Whether for public, private, or community based clouds – these services must be easy to access and ensure optimal performance and productivity across the cloud. Unified Network Fabric Hybrid specialists must ensure unified networks for deploying services across multiple environments. This includes computing, as well as storage and networking accessibility. Unified networks allow workloads operating in different environments to share the same network elements. This secures consistent connections that rapidly expedite workloads across hosting environments – while reinforcing the level of security required. User-Friendly Interface With user-friendly interfaces, customers and partners are able to: Easily manage an entire IT infrastructure across a myriad of servers. Manage storage capacities and resources via one centralized portal. Enable single point of contacts – which eliminates the need for multiple service providers.
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