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The Best Hybrid Cloud Solutions for Small, Medium and Large Enterprises: 2020 Edition
Over the past few years, it has become crystal clear that the future of enterprise computing, at least in the short-term, is not in the cloud. But it's not in resource-heavy on-premise private networks, either. Instead, business owners have overwhelmingly decided that they prefer to have a foot in both camps. 

The big tech companies have had to adjust their focus in response to this demand, and some have found it to be much tougher sledding than others. At the dawn of 2020, all the big players in the public cloud space can now legitimately say that they offer a genuine hybrid cloud solution.

Business owners looking to develop a hybrid architecture over the coming months and years now have a decision to make: Which cloud provider is most suited to my specific use case?

cloud city 

If one were to point to one specific textbook case of first-mover advantage in the 21st Century, it's Amazon's domination of the public cloud space. Having secured roughly a third of the entire market, AWS is well out in front in terms of compute resources and storage capacity. It was also the first player to recognize the need for a cloud direct connect service, launching AWS Direct Connect in 2012, a full two years before Microsoft followed suit with Azure ExpressRoute. With powerful in-house security, low prices and huge economies of scale behind it, AWS is able to serve both the smallest and largest enterprises in kind.

However, there are two distinct advantages that Microsoft offers which could sway more businesses in their direction - and it may also explain Microsoft's largely-unexpected surge in market share.

First, Microsoft's on-premise products are already installed and comfortably familiar to many enterprise users (Azure is built around Windows Server, the .NET framework and Visual Studio). Second, they are not Amazon. For business owners in the retail sector in particular, a prime motivation for avoiding AWS is to not continue to uplift a direct competitor - especially one who is already the dominant power in their industry.

Under Satya Nadella, Microsoft has also been much more open to collaborating with cloud-based and open source communities, balancing their clear strength in the on-premise space.

While AWS and Azure are equally viable alternatives for businesses of all sizes, Google Cloud Platform and IBM Cloud are focusing more on mid to large corporations. In terms of enterprise appeal, Google and IBM have two very different (polar opposite, in fact) USPs.

For Google, the decision to accept the inevitability of a hybrid cloud future came relatively late in the game. Up until recently, GCP seemed committed to a pure, cloud-native future, content with intensively innovating until the rest of the world caught up with them. While they still hold some clear Aces up their sleeves (e.g. their cloud-based TensorFlow technology for machine learning development), they have reluctantly come down to earth. Google has now started getting their hands dirty by adding services such as elastic infrastructure, DevOps, big data processing and disaster recovery to their clients' on-premise systems. Google has also tried to win over enterprise customers by offering significant cloud cost reduction with deep corporate discounts.

In complete contrast to Google, IBM come to the table with the longest service history of any of the Big Four. IBM's brand equity is enough on its own to win the trust of some boards of directors and as such, IBM is clearly comfortable in charging more for their services because of their brand recognition. IBM's main problem until recently was the scattering of their products and services across different brands (e.g. SoftLayer, Watson, Bluemix, etc.). The decision to merge and acquire those brands allowed IBM to offer more products and services than any of their competitors - all under the IBM Cloud name.

The fascinating battle between the tech giants over the hybrid cloud space is sure to continue for some time, but in the end, every business will need to make their decision based on their own specific IT environments and use cases.

With that in mind, every business owner or key decision maker would benefit from engaging with a vendor-neutral and highly experienced third party consulting firm before making any decisions related to hybrid cloud migrations, deployments and cost optimization. Because even the most advanced IT staffs at the largest corporations could use a little objective advice from time to time. 


About the Author

Ben Ferguson 

Ben Ferguson is the Vice President and Senior Network Architect for Shamrock Consulting Group, an industry leader in digital transformation solutions. Since his departure from Biochemical research in 2004, Ben has built core competencies around cloud direct connects and cloud cost reduction, SD WAN providers, enterprise wide area network architecture, high density data center deployments, cybersecurity and VOIP telephony. Ben has designed hundreds of complex networks for some of the largest companies in the world and he's helped Shamrock become a top partner of the 3 largest public cloud platforms for AWS, Azure and GCP consulting. When he takes the occasional break from designing networks, he enjoys surfing, golf, working out, trying new restaurants and spending time with his wife, Linsey, his son, Weston and his dog, Hamilton.

Published Thursday, February 20, 2020 7:32 AM by David Marshall
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