It was a simple gesture of gratitude that really got me thinking. A colleague of mine, freshly promoted to the head of his company’s Cloud Business Unit, planted a seed.  I wished him well and joked that, according to ancient Gartner mythology, 2016 is in fact “Year of the Cloud”. His reply was simply: “Thanks – actually it is “Year of the Hybrid Cloud”.

Year of the Hybrid Cloud? What did I miss? LinkedIn titles never lie, so I checked again and his title clearly stated Head of Cloud BU. I checked his email signature and it was consistent with this LinkedIn profile. Perhaps this was a joke or some new lingo. Panic set in and like any seasoned sales person I turned to the oracle that is Google.

TechTarget defines the hybrid cloud as being a “cloud computing environment that uses a mix of on-premise, private cloud and third-party public cloud services with orchestration between the two platforms”.

In a nutshell that paints a fairly good idea on what the hybrid cloud entails but what are the benefits of adopting a hybrid cloud approach? Again the sales person in me wants to list them in point form and leave a copy of my business card with a message “Let’s chat”. But on reflection, hybrid cloud, in my opinion fundamentally addresses two main roadblocks to cloud adoption in this country.

Roadblocks to cloud adoption

Firstly, bandwidth – good quality bandwidth in South Africa is in short supply. And when it is available, it comes at a hefty price. Until fibre becomes the norm, bandwidth will always rear its ugly head in the cloud adoption discussion. Not to be a Debbie Downer, I must highlight pavements are being ripped up at a rate of knots while fibre networks extend like weeds into every nook and cranny of the country. So hopefully bandwidth as a detractor to cloud will be short-lived.

Secondly, security and legislation – allow me to regurgitate the majority of my cloud discussions of late – “Wow that sounds great. Tell me where your cloud data centres are located?” I can do my best to paint the picture of a very secure data centres in Europe or a Fort Knox type data centre in the US but until those servers reside in South Africa, cloud adoption will be painfully slow.

Why the hybrid?

Enter the hybrid cloud. The way I see it, is that the hybrid cloud enables you to build and deliver cloud offerings for your organisation using networks, security, hardware and software that already exist in your business and link to public data centres for very specific workloads. But at the same time ensure you have workload mobility between clouds and the data sovereignty you crave. This in turn allows you to maximise your investment in your organisational assets. Creating a lower barrier to entry to the cloud (for specific workloads) if you will.

Looking ahead, one day all the pavements would have been ripped up and repaired again with copper being replaced for glass threads and data centres will be strategically dotted across the Rainbow Nation. Only then will public cloud become the norm, introducing the challenge of public and private cloud integration – but that is a topic for another day.