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Hyperscaler, hybrid or multi-cloud?

Image: Adobe Stock / Parinwat Studio

Reece Gohil, Microsoft Product Owner at Six Degrees, gives some insight into understanding the role of hyperscale architecture in a hybrid cloud strategy.

In the varied cloud computing ecosystem, hyperscalers are very well named. These are the biggest global providers offering a wide range of services that can be massively scaled according to demand. The sheer size and value of the industry can best be explained by looking at some headline figures. 

According to a 2023 study, the top 19 hyperscalers had more than 900 data centres in operation globally, with the top four (AWS, Google Cloud, Meta and Microsoft Azure) accounting for nearly 80% of worldwide capacity. To even be considered a hyperscale data centre they need to host at least 5,000 servers, with the largest having similar power requirements to that of a small city. 

What’s more, the sector is far from its peak, with hyperscalers expected to almost triple the amount of data centres they have over the next six years as the market heads towards a trillion dollars in value by 2032 – or considerably more than that, depending on which forecast is used. And even now, in 2024, the growth is still exponential. In fact, Microsoft Cloud reported a 13% revenue increase last year, bringing it to $56.5 billion. 

However, this demand isn’t unwarranted. There’s a reason large cloud providers like Microsoft are so popular and it’s because, when used in the right place at the right time, hyperscalers can prove a great investment. 

From hyperscale to hybrid 

Clearly, hyperscale cloud has become a highly compelling proposition for organisations worldwide. But, while the approach offers a range of important benefits, not every use case is ideally suited to a hyperscale platform. Organisations going down this path first need to consider whether applications, workloads and critical data are hosted in an appropriate location, and whether partnering with a hyperscaler is right from a security, scalability, control and cost perspective. 

Take the core challenges associated with the adoption of hyperscale infrastructure, for example. For many organisations, one of the big attractions of working with the likes of AWS, Azure or Google Cloud Platform is that they take away some of the challenges around securing and managing data in the cloud – a particularly useful capability when in-house teams lack experience outside of their own systems. 

The problem here is that there are some very big industries, such as finance, healthcare and legal, that work within stringent compliance and security boundaries. This means they need to ensure the hyperscaler of choice meets their security and compliance challenges before migrating workloads to the public cloud. Therefore having a clear plan and assessing all workloads before migrating between platforms is critical to meeting a company’s goals and objectives. 

Looking more closely at security, to unlock the full potential of cloud technologies, businesses must adopt a holistic approach, moving beyond traditional on-premises methods to leverage the expertise of cloud security professionals and tailored security measures. This approach is especially useful when organisations are implementing a multi-cloud approach where customised security controls are required to meet regulatory requirements, and geo-redundancy is used to distribute mission-critical components across multiple data centres to protect against the risks of downtime at a particular location. 

Blending services

In fact, for organisations looking to capture the overall benefits of cloud computing – such as scalability, cost savings and better security – without the challenges associated with using a hyperscaler, hybrid or multi-cloud solutions offer a very useful alternative. Given that every infrastructure strategy will have unique requirements, blending the services derived from on-premises, private and public clouds – all supported by unified management – means that each can be configured to deliver the optimum level of performance and cost. 

In this context, the adoption of a hybrid cloud approach can ensure each workload is hosted in the most appropriate execution venue. In general terms, this could result in hyperscale infrastructure being used for requirements that must be delivered at scale and are less sensitive to compliance requirements. On-premises infrastructure or private clouds can then be adopted for specific workloads where security is paramount, where legacy technologies continue to play an important role or where redundancy, resilience and disaster recovery are high on the list of priorities. 

Given these various opportunities and challenges, and as hyperscalers continue to shape the cloud computing landscape, businesses must carefully assess their strategies to deliver a win-win approach. By prioritising security, compliance and strategic adoption, they can harness the power of cloud technologies in a way that most precisely meets their priorities while allowing them maximum opportunity to adapt as circumstances evolve. 

Picture of Reece Gohil
Reece Gohil
Microsoft Product Owner at Six Degrees

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