Hybrid isn't a Place - It's an Operating Model

The industry agrees - “Cloud is an operating model not a place.”

If you move all your virtual machines to AWS do you now have a cloud? Or is it something else? If Cloud is an operating model vs. a place, what model do you have in lift and shift? I submit that you have hybrid-infrastructure. If Cloud is an operating model, it must be equally valid that hybrid-infrastructure is an operating model.

VMware Cloud on AWS

Before offerings such as VMware Cloud (VMC) on AWS VMC, the delineation between hybrid and public seemed clear. Hybrid-infrastructure was considered a combination of on-premises assets integration with cloud-based services. As with all things cloud, the simple definition gets muddled.

VMC is a cloud-based service. It has all the attributes of a traditional SaaS offering. Customers don’t pay for or design the vSphere infrastructure consumed by the IT staff using the service.

- It’s a metered service.

- The bare metal servers provision without human intervention.

- VMC hosts consist of pooled resources shared between multiple customers sharing the AWS physical underlay.

So, how is it hybrid?

It’s the promise VMware offers in the service. You can take your existing on-premises governance and operations and move them to the cloud. Furthermore, there’s no need to refactor applications. You can lift and shift your existing vSphere powered environment to another vSphere powered environment.

Do you see where this is going? While the physical underlay and hypervisor management get consumed as a service, the operating model doesn’t change. Application management remains unchanged. Windows and Linux patches remain the responsibility of the customer as are OS images.

Bi-modal IT

Organizations struggled with the governance of two very different operating models when looking at the cloud. Without refactoring all applications, IT leaders needed an organizational model that supported cloud-native applications and traditional infrastructure. Therefore, the concept of bi-modal (a Gartner term) enters. Bi-modal IT represents an organizational structure in which two teams co-exist — one to manage traditional infrastructure and another to manage cloud-native applications.

The bi-modal operating model remains after deploying VMC. Organizations get their cake and have to eat it too. While there are no physical data center assets to worry about, the operating delta between cloud-native and VM focused remains the same. VMC reduces the friction between the models along with combining the physical location of workloads. Organizations still exhibit hybrid operations.

Final Take

According to IDC, be it financial or some other reason companies are moving their workloads from the cloud. Hybrid-infrastructure is the future of enterprise IT. However, hybrid-infrastructure isn’t only about physical underlayment. Hybrid-infrastructure is about the operating model of your organization. Services such as VMC on AWS or NetApp Ontap may remove friction. They don’t fundamentally change the operating model of an organization. Both their advantage and the knock - your operating model doesn’t change.

Hybrid isn’t a place. It’s an operating model.