Is Hybrid Cloudy With Chance Of Failure? InformationWeek Video

Netflix's former cloud architect Adrian Cockcroft and other cloud experts weigh in on the realities of hybrid cloud.

Laurianne McLaughlin, Editor-in-Chief,

June 9, 2014

3 Min Read

When I first started covering virtualization as a reporter, I heard the same story repeatedly from smart CIOs: Virtualization helped me stop being the "no" person and start being the "yes" person. Virtualization helped IT provision and point technology resources to address specific business requests in days, not weeks. Then cloud computing accelerated things to a whole other level.

Early proponents of public cloud services continue to argue that going with a hybrid approach, mixing private and public cloud workloads, will just slow enterprises down. You'd better go all-in with Amazon or other public cloud services, or you're kidding yourself. Hybrid cloud isn't cloudy enough. It's cloudy with a chance of failure, this argument goes.

Just last week, Amazon and VMware had a fresh tussle on this topic, after Amazon unveiled tools designed to serve as a public cloud onramp for VMware customer workloads. (See Charles Babcock's related story here.) VMware CTO Chris Wolf quickly struck back at the Amazon marketing push, writing a blog saying that what Amazon offers isn't true hybrid cloud management. Wolf argued that basing your cloud strategy on one public cloud vendor will have you playing a risky game of Jenga when you need to move workloads for security, regulatory compliance, or cost reasons.

Who's right? Wolf and the CIOs who are starting with a hybrid cloud approach, or the CIOs going all-in on public cloud? At our InformationWeek Conference in April, we heard divergent opinions from cloud experts.

Netflix made one of the biggest, earliest bets on the public cloud, going all-in with Amazon. Netflix's former cloud strategy architect, Adrian Cockcroft, now a technology fellow at Battery Ventures, minces no words on this topic: Hybrid isn't a long-term strategy.

The early complexity of managing data centers, and the myriad products and services from varying vendors that went into them, caused Netflix IT more headaches than cloud service providers did, Cockroft says.

"It's much better to have everything in one place," he says in the video clip below.


Netflix's much-analyzed cloud journey would have been an IT cultural challenge of epic proportions at, say, an established manufacturing company. Developers represented the absolute core of the Netflix culture, paving the way for Cockcroft to "remove the friction from product development." Development and business operations decisions effectively merged, in a process that minimized process and maximized trust, he told the InformationWeek Conference attendees.

Most CIOs haven't had the opportunity to redesign their companies' IT process and business process to that extent. And unless you're talking about startups, most CIOs won't have that chance soon.

There are plenty of other cloud chances to take. Sandra Kurtzig, CEO and co-founder of cloud-based ERP startup Kenandy, says cloud is all about speed. View the video clip directly below.


The cloud model also lets small companies acquire the software and IT infrastructure that only the biggest companies used to have. Any company can now tap into best-of-breed cloud services, Box CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie notes in the clip below.


Cockcroft will always be justifiably passionate about his belief in the process he created and the bet he made on the public cloud. But while cloud industry gurus debate how cloudy is cloudy enough, don't let anyone tell you that it's not valuable to go from Dr. No to Dr. Know.

Can the trendy tech strategy of DevOps really bring peace between developers and IT operations -- and deliver faster, more reliable app creation and delivery? Also in the DevOps Challenge issue of InformationWeek: Execs charting digital business strategies can't afford to take Internet connectivity for granted.

About the Author(s)

Laurianne McLaughlin


Laurianne McLaughlin currently serves as's Editor-in-Chief, overseeing daily online editorial operations. Prior to joining InformationWeek in May, 2011, she was managing editor at Her writing and editing work has won multiple ASBPE (American Society of Business Publication Editors) awards, including ASBPE's 2010 B2B Web Site of the year award for Previously, McLaughlin served as a senior editor, online for Business 2.0 and as a senior editor for PC World, where she started her technology journalism career in 1992 as a news reporter. She is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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