Marten Bütow
23. September 2019 1

Hybrid hype, everywhere

“Hybrid” is the buzzword of the day. And for good reason. Particularly where workplace systems for communication and collaboration are involved, hybrid approaches – operating a mixed private/public cloud – can deliver significant cost reductions.

Hybrid is everywhere

My neighbor has a big, black VW bus. He uses it whenever he drives his sons and their friends to soccer practice or when they take long vacation trips. Next to it is a white Golf, which he uses for shopping, going to the movies, visiting friends, and so on. And way in the back of the garage, there’s a Vespa. He uses it to go to the outdoor pool or for personal trips on hot summer days. There is no arguing that we could call this mobility strategy “hybrid”.

Hybrid is booming. Twenty years ago, “hybrid” was a term used only by botanists and chemists. Today, hybrid is everywhere… socially acceptable through cars, and enterprise-relevant due to the cloud. Whenever we need an academic-sounding word for “mishmash”, we call it “hybrid”.

Hybrids model the real world

Hybrid – it’s a wonderful dream. In theory, hybrid approaches offer ideal conditions for optimizing workplaces for communication and collaboration in line with a company’s needs. Hybrid – ultimately, it also means “fitting the real-world situation”. In theory. In practice, however, companies have found it difficult to pin down. After all, no one has ever executed a hybrid project simply by putting buzzwords like “hybrid strategy” on a PowerPoint slide.

From the slides to reality

This is changing right now – although I should note that the most promising approaches (and the ones that are easiest to realize) are still the ones that are delivered from a single source. When companies try to set up cross-vendor communication and collaboration solutions, a huge integration effort is still needed. Many project managers know that tune by heart – usually in a minor key

The value that hybrid solutions can add is well-known, like my neighbor’s approach to mobility: the right tool, with the optimum delivery model, for every business scenario. But there is another factor in the business context (in contrast to my neighbor): the cost situation also has to be optimized. In other words, maximum performance at the lowest possible costs.

Pure public cloud is out

For many years, the public cloud was praised as a delivery model in this regard. And in fact, communication and collaboration services “from the cloud” have revolutionized the price structure. The public cloud with its inexpensive, standardized services – in the meantime, it’s clear that this wasn’t the last word. Particularly in the business environment. Some companies don’t want to move everything to the public cloud, while others simply can’t. As a result, company-wide pure public cloud approaches remained wishful thinking in most cases, enticing the finance department (and possibly IT, too), but making security officers and legal representatives break out in a cold sweat. Nevertheless, a public cloud workplace could be sufficient, functional, and safe enough for some employees (provided they’re not the CEO or head of development). And that takes us directly to the hybrid world.

It promises the best value for the money. And in fact…

Hybrid vs. private – cost trends based on Office 365

If we take the example of the largest provider of cloud workplaces, Microsoft (which, by the way, is the same one as in the pre-cloud era), with Office 365, it looks like this: If we use a Pareto approach, that is, 80 percent of the workplaces in inexpensive public cloud mode and 20 percent of workplaces in a private cloud, this enables savings of roughly one-third (compared to a pure private cloud approach). That’s economically significant. The hitch: Microsoft only offers Office 365 as a public solution. The private Office 365 package has to come from a different vendor. And that takes integration – even though it’s the “same software” – typically hybrid, right?

But back to the costs

The 30 percent (minus integration) isn’t the whole truth yet. If we calculate really large scenarios with over 20,000 workplaces, a pure private cloud approach actually proves to be cheaper than the pure public cloud. Solutions of this magnitude result in tangible economies of scale. All the same – and this shouldn’t be ignored – this calculation isn’t entirely correct, either. The comparative calculation for the public cloud assumes that list prices are charged for Office 365 (€ 8.80 for an Office 365 Business license or € 10.50 for Business Premium). It is entirely possible that Microsoft would be willing to make special arrangements for such a large number of licenses 😉.

Make your choice

Hybrid solutions definitely offer significant cost-saving potential, and the much-scolded private cloud should never be ruled out from the start simply for cost reasons. The cloud world always offers more than just one option. So it pays to take a closer look. Of course, things get more complicated when “extended hybrids” come into play – for example, when companies want to replace Microsoft teams with WebEx teams. That’s not impossible at all. It can be fantastic for the user experience, but for the costs… well, that’s another story.

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