As with most buzzwords, the term “hybrid” is being applied to just about everything, including your infrastructure environment. More vendors are claiming to offer hybridized solutions that mix cloud and physical infrastructure, but this assertion isn’t always true.

Until now, there hasn’t been a standardized definition of the concept, and some providers are employing “hybrid washing” tactics to take advantage of the information gap. Here are a few things you need to know to avoid falling victim to “hybrid washing.”

Hybrid infrastructure is not the same as hybrid cloud. The term “hybrid” is most often used to describe a combination of public and private clouds, but hybrid infrastructure extends beyond this definition. You may be familiar with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definition of hybrid cloud which describes it as a combination of public, private and community clouds “bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds).” While this sufficiently addresses a combination of disparate clouds, the definition doesn’t include the ability to manage and move data and applications across cloud and non-cloud infrastructure environments.

Location isn’t everything. A mix of on-premise and hosted cloud is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a hybridized environment. In some cases, an application may be deployed using colocated servers in a data center, but certain workloads may take place in other hosting environments. This split application architecture is making the delineation between on-premise and off-premise less important. Regardless of physical location, on- or off-premise, private or public cloud, what really matters is the ability to leverage each environment to address your application requirements.

Disparate environments aren’t transparent. Connecting hosting and cloud platforms via unmanaged network links is considered to be a hybrid environment by some providers. While linking a meet me room to another cloud, hosting or colocation vendor can connect disparate environments, this does not provide network transparency or the ability to manage, monitor and provision machines across physical and cloud environments.

What is true hybridization?

A comprehensive hybrid solution allows you to move workloads across distinct environments (private cloud, public cloud, hosted, dedicated servers or collocated servers) to achieve greater scalability and flexibility for your applications. Hybridization connects diverse hosting environments via a unified, fully transparent network, and can be managed through a “single pane of glass” with a single point of contact for support and billing.

Infrastructure buyers who can distinguish between truly hybrid solutions and those that are “hybrid washed” will be better positioned to establish an optimized environment that can meet precise business needs.

Download the white paper, Deciphering Hybrid Infrastructure, to learn the new definition of hybridization.