James Governor's Monkchips

Opinionated Infrastructure: Hybrid Cloud Made of Prius and Zipvan

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In which I riff on the cloud again. Pay as you go? Radical simplicity or interim solutions? Turns out the Toyota Prius can tell us something very interesting about the value of cloud, and whether we really just all move to the future, or whether we need to evolve infrastructures towards it. To whit – inefficiency isn’t always bad… some cloud heft may not be a bad thing. Data centres are not all bad.

My client IBM PureSystems, which sponsors the Opinionated Infrastructure series, can now span public and private, post IBM’s SoftLayer acquisition, which is an actual public cloud.


  1. […] — also has been coming around and seeing the benefits this mode of cloud offers. In a recent video, he compares hybrid cloud computing to the rise of hybrid vehicles — a great solution that […]

  2. It’s really all about the use case. The biggest benefit of the public cloud is the flexibility and scalability – you can launch 1 or 1000 instances in just a few seconds. You’re making use of capacity that already exists. Running that in your own data centre would require significant time to buy the hardware, provision it and then if it’s not actually being used often, it’s just sitting around wasting power and space.

    The problem is when you come to run in the cloud for longer periods of stable usage. Then it becomes very expensive, compared to going dedicated or buying your own hardware. But that takes longer to deploy.

    The point of hybrid cloud is to combine the two and get advantages from both, and this seems to fit with how the demand for most services develops. At the beginning you don’t know what you need or how it’ll grow, so the flexibility of the cloud makes sense. But some use cases, like databases, are fairly consistent and you can transition those to dedicated or own hardware. This can be supplemented by public cloud resources on demand, such as match day spikes, lunchtime surfing or batch processing.

    The question is how it’s implemented and how it’s sold. Data centres like Equinix in the UK (and elsewhere) have direct connectivity and peering to cloud providers like AWS just for this reason. Where we’re seeing a lot of confusion is from the software vendors who are just branding things as “cloud”, and that’s it. You just need to dig under that a bit to find out what’s really happening.

  3. FWIW – and I know I’m picking on one of your examples rather than talking about your core issue here – I had a *horrible* experience attempting to join/use/hire ZipCar/Van yesterday. For all I’d heard about how great their UX is, frankly, requiring me to call them and then be kept on hold waiting (and eventually giving up) to validate my ID, *AND* not allowing me to search for specific vehicle availability before I’ve signed up, is awful. I ended up using ICanHire.com instead, who phoned *me*, and let me check vehicle availability, and didn’t want an annual service fee. YMMV.

    Back to the cloud. I fully agree with David that there’s a lot of cloudwashing here from vendors. I haven’t really seen any good hybrid cloud approaches which enable dynamic portability of VMs across private to public infrastructures yet (although my understanding is that VMware’s vCHS is looking to do that). The best example I’ve seen of the concept in reality was Comic Relief and their use of Cloud Foundry on both a privately-hosted vSphere datacenter as well as 2 Amazon EC regions back in March this year – that was hybrid but with the PaaS layer hiding away the IaaS differences.

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