Kevin J. Allen
4 min readFeb 26, 2016


#CloudMinds huddle recap: Hybrid cloud and the transition to next

#CloudMinds huddle at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas during IBM InterConnect 2016.

While the massive shift of the last few years to hybrid cloud has been undeniable to some, and a reality for many enterprises, the term still manages to attract its share of skeptics.

IBM Cloud CTO Jim Comfort and Angel Diaz, IBM’s VP of Cloud Technology & Architecture, hosted the #CloudMinds at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas during IBM InterConnect 2016. Given the volume of conversation around hybrid at the event, it was only fitting that it should be the topic du jour for the group.

Comfort kicked off the conversation by stating that “it should be intuitive that there will be a hybrid scenario for a very long period of time.”

But there are a few fundamental questions that many in the industry still have to answer:

- How do you create the new?

- How do you connect the old?

- How do you manage over that environment?

- What’s the programming model in that new world?

The word legacy has developed a bad reputation in IT. As Andi Mann, chief technology advocate for Splunk, points out, “The word legacy is really positive in every circle outside of IT. If you leave a legacy for your children, for the next generation — that’s actually a good thing.”

If it ain’t broke …

But if we have a nomenclature problem with hybrid, what’s the solution? Basho Technologies CEO Adam Wray suggests that the focus should not be on labels but rather the business problems your IT systems are trying to solve and the outcomes you’re trying to achieve with them. This theme permeated the conversation.

“At the end of the day it’s about the workload,” Wray said. “If you drive it down to the workload itself, then you can understand how much has to stay legacy.”

Mann agreed. “This can’t be about dogma,” he said. “You can’t just say, ‘I feel like we should have stuff internally because it’s important.’ And, you can’t just say, ‘I feel like we should move to the cloud because it’s important.’ It’s about what drives your business forward and what provides value.”

The questions then become, what makes sense from a time-to-market, economic standpoint to move to public cloud? And how much of that do you keep on your existing — or traditional, to use Mann’s preferred moniker — IT systems?

The IT approach who shall not be named

M2Mi chief operating officer Sarah Cooper has a simple solution for the nomenclature problem.

“I never talk about hybrid,” she told the group. “We just talk about, ‘Do you want to take your stuff to the cloud, or do you want the cloud to come to you?’ If you want the cloud to come to you, it’s hybrid.”

The other side of this discussion has to do with disruption. In an era where startups can come along and completely upend entire industries in a matter of months, shouldn’t a company’s technology backbone be built in such a way that gives it the ability (and agility) to immediately adapt — or, better yet, set the pace?

Jay Mehta, senior strategist for the 18-year-old branchless Tangerine Bank, said, “We’ve torn down and rebuilt systems multiple times. It’s not just a matter of whether or not it’s the right technology — it gives us flexibility to innovate faster.”

Should more businesses consider tearing down the old to make room for the new? For many, this simply isn’t a practical, sensible or affordable solution. On the other hand, if you’re in the hotel industry, the entertainment (i.e. TV) industry and, yes, the taxi industry, can you afford not to do this to some degree in order to compete with the likes of Airbnb, Netflix/Hulu/Sling and Uber, respectively?

Respect the CIO

AVOA CIO strategic advisor Tim Crawford reminded the group of an inherent problem for many enterprises. CIOs, he said, are often tasked with the impossible, and that the “cloud shamers” — those telling CIOs that they must be in the cloud — should remember that many of them have limited resources and funds. He or she may be tasked with selling cloud projects to skeptical C-suite colleagues and convincing them of the opportunity that cloud presents.

“It’s important to understand the journey each company needs to take to get there and have respect that [CIOs’] lives are complex,” Crawford said.

Plus, there’s a danger, as Wray pointed out, in adopting “technology for technology’s sake.” In fact, several #CloudMinds warned against being seduced by the shiny and new.

“We keep hearing of the developer king,” Google’s Kubernetes Community program leader Sarah Novotny said. “All this talk of logic and economics [guiding business] presumes a world we don’t live in. We live in a world that has nearly fetishized the new, the technologically advanced, and the disruptor that is funded by [venture capitalists] who are gambling.”

We plan to continue this conversation around hybrid cloud throughout the year. As we move forward, I want to hear from you. We’ve established that hybrid is a reality for most enterprises today, and that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. So, the next question is how. How should CIOs and IT organizations determine which workloads to move to the cloud and when should they focus on extending their traditional systems?

RackN CEO Rob Hirschfeld offered his thoughts on the huddle as well. Check out his post here.



Kevin J. Allen

Dad, husband, improviser, writer, videographer, editor, content creator.