What Makes A Cloud A Hybrid Cloud?

vCloud Air-Powered

Something I noticed I was talking bout a lot last week at VMworld was the concept of what makes VMware vCloud Hybrid Cloud Service, really a “hybrid cloud”.  The funny thing is I asked The Google and TheHostingNews.com has some interesting cloud terms, but I pulled this one quote.

Hybrid Cloud – In some situations, the customer may need both a local server running specific applications and a cloud service that hosts additional applications, files, or databases. In such a situation, the two are often configured for interoperability.

Although this is pretty high level I don’t think it captures in my opinion, the true potential of what the vCloud Air can offer for what I think a Hybrid Cloud is.  It covers some of it, but really let me ask a few questions.

  • Is just running servers on premise and off premise a “hybrid”?
  • Is it “Hybrid” if there is no seamless interaction between on and off premise?
  • What defines “configured for interoperability”?

Something I have been thinking about is the question of what makes a Hybrid Car a ‘Hybrid’.  To me it’s not just the fact it is powered by two fuel sources, it is also that those two sources are seamlessly interconnected.  The car switches between the resources without you the driver really knowing it’s happening.  The magic is in the decision-making on which resource to use at the given time.  When I simplify this I end up with two key points that is what makes a Hybrid car something we can use to leverage a Hybrid Cloud definition.

  • Interconnected resources
  • Seamless use of the resources without consumer interaction

The VMware Hybrid Cloud Service Advantage to Enterprise IT

During both VMworld events I asked many people using Amazon EC2 if they were in fact interconnecting their Amazon resources to their on premise data centers.  In most cases, the resounding answer was no.  Most people I talked to said they treat Amazon EC2 as an external entity that is in no way hooked into their data centers.  There was a couple of people doing it, but the majority were not.

This is what really makes VMware vCloud Hybrid Cloud Service something different.  The entire intent is that you first connect your vCloud Air resources to your on premise data center.  Using either VPN, which I have shown multiple times, or via the newly announced Direct Connect Option.  The whole nature of what VMware sees as a Hybrid is those two bullet points above.  Interconnect and Seamless resources that Enterprise IT can leverage regardless of the consumer.  Both ends are the same technology.  The main difference I have been educating on is the FIRST thing you do is build this connection, and deploy data center infrastructure that will provide services to your cloud based machines.  Providing networking and security via the vCNS Edge Gateway to control all the connectivity you need.

Over and over it seems folks are not wrapping their head around the fact that the VMware vCloud Air can be designed and consumed very much like any physical brick and mortar data center.  The difference is simply it is all software designed, and operated by VMware to save you the overhead of managing the underlying physical resources.  At the end of the day you consume it the same as you do with your existing vSphere, and moving workloads and templates requires no modifications.  You get the best of both worlds and you truly get what I consider a ‘Hybrid Cloud’.

Of course provide your own comments below and let’s see if I can get folks to start seeing this concept differently than other so-called hybrid cloud models.

About Chris Colotti

Chris is active on the VMUG and event speaking circuit and is available for many events if you want to reach out and ask. Previously to this he spent close to a decade working for VMware as a Principal Architect. Previous to his nine plus years at VMware, Chris was a System Administrator that evolved his career into a data center architect. Chris spends a lot of time mentoring co-workers and friends on the benefits of personal growth and professional development. Chris is also amongst the first VMware Certified Design Experts (VCDX#37), and author of multiple white papers. In his spare time he helps his wife Julie run her promotional products as the accountant, book keeper, and IT Support. Chris also believes in both a healthy body and healthy mind, and has become heavily involved with fitness as a Diamond Team Beachbody Coach using P90X and other Beachbody Programs. Although Technology is his day job, Chris is passionate about fitness after losing 60 pounds himself in the last few years.


  1. Great post Chris. I think sometimes we can talking about solutions such as Hybrid Cloud and SDDC and not actually really think all that much about what those solutions are and what they mean to consumers. I agree with your definition of Hybrid Cloud. Being seemless is the key in my eyes. I may not care where my workload is running, I just want it to continue to run without interruption.


  2. Hi Chris.

    I’m terribly sorry to be such a pedant, but if we use the wrong words we run the risk of being misunderstood. Premise and premises are not the same thing, and the former is not the singular of the latter. I think what you mean to say is on-premises and off-premises.

    Great article!

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