A data center, for many enterprises, is just a cog in the wheel that supports their mission. It’s not their core business. Given a choice, most business owners would prefer not to run a data center at all. A data center is capital-intensive. It also brings with it a lack of agility because of its complexity. This is where hybrid cloud management comes in.

As it stands, many organizations aren’t willing to move all their data and workloads to the cloud. Instead, they are adopting a hybrid strategy where they run a combo of on-premises IT and cloud services. This approach has become very popular. In fact, Gartner predicts that 90 percent of organizations will have adopted a hybrid setup by 2020.

In this hybrid setup, IT teams face a challenge. They must deliver the scalability, nimbleness, and elasticity needed for the organization to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. This calls for investment in hybrid cloud management solutions.

So, how did we get here?

1. The Birth of the Cloud

The cloud, as we know it, came with the launch of Salesforce.com in 1999. Salesforce showed the world how to deliver enterprise applications from the Internet. We now call it the cloud. The success of Salesforce led to the launch of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2002. This is when it became clear that we were on the cusp of a big change. While some players failed spectacularly, the success of Amazon was a huge turning point. Amazon delivered services, such as storage, computation, and human intelligence (Amazon Mechanical Turk).

2. The Cloud Gets Traction

AWS grew in leaps and bounds until 2006 when it launched Elastic Compute Cloud. This service allowed individuals and businesses to rent computer space to run their applications. This was the first widely- accessible cloud computing service.

Amazon was not alone. Google and Microsoft also launched browser-based apps— — Microsoft Office and Google Apps. Behind the scenes, VMware and Microsoft were working on the concept of virtualization. This allowed single servers to host a multitude of applications and switch loads dynamically in real-time. This development made it possible for the cloud to scale and become much cheaper. But we were still aways from true Hybrid cloud management.

3. The Cracks Start to Show

The cloud is not perfect. While it does deliver value and rapid scale, it falls short when it comes to security and reliability. It can’t compete with on-premises hardware on this front. Cases of outages and breaches, coupled with restrictive laws, made the case for cloud computing even harder. Some laws prohibit certain types of data from flowing across borders. Other laws prescribe the level of protection that such data requires before transmission. Meeting all these regulatory requirements was a hurdle.

4. The Birth of the Hybrid Cloud

The demand for data privacy, security, performance, and reliability created the need for a managed bridge. This bridge would link traditional IT and the cloud. This set of circumstances gave birth to the hybrid cloud as we know it today. A hybrid cloud is a virtual service under the control of the IT department. It shifts loads from on-premises infrastructure to cloud-based infrastructure. It’s hinged on a complex set of rules that try to balance security, reliability, privacy, compliance, and cost.

Data and applications trending toward being pervasive reside in the cloud. Applications and data trending toward security and mission-critical needs stay on-premise. The key to a successful deployment is to move resources fast while maintaining uptimes. The right hybrid cloud management solutions are a critical part of making this a reality.

5. The Challenges Lying Ahead and the Future of Hybrid Cloud

Data center operators still face a myriad of challenges. This is true even with the proliferation of hybrid cloud management solutions that have simplified operations. Security is still a big deal and most organizations struggle to strike the perfect balance. The threat of ransomware has become almost epidemic. A new report from MacAfee shows that ransomware has more than doubled in 2019.

The other challenge is to maintain an effective team of IT staff. As organizations try to attract and retain IT talent, they must also work out how they’ll best use the personnel. Today, automation has rendered most tasks performed by IT redundant. As a result, IT professionals don’t have as much on their hands as they had with legacy systems. Organizations have to find a way to keep the IT staff engaged in tasks that add value.

Going forward, technology will continue to play a huge role in the evolution of the hybrid cloud. We’re bound to see innovative hybrid cloud management solutions and the incorporation of AI and machine learning into cloud platforms.

Vendor collaboration in the setup and running of the hybrid cloud will also feature strongly. This has already started happening. A good example is Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program. Getting support from a cloud provider will enable organizations to optimize their hybrid cloud investment and achieve their desired outcomes.