Hybrid Cloud Solutions: What’s the right compromise between automation and control?

Hybrid Cloud Solutions: What’s the right compromise between automation and control?

The rise of various public and private cloud platforms has made available a wide range of alternatives for organizations looking for the scalability, agility, cost savings and variety of features that the cloud provides. The downside is the complexity of blending and adapting different vendors and processes.

While there are quite a few orchestrators/schedulers that deal with different aspects of the issue, whether they are cloud-specific (e.g. ARM, CFM, CDM, HEAT) or cloud-neutral (e.g. Kubernetes, LXC, Mesos). In addition, there are modern tool stacks that automate CI/CD and ITSM processes such as Jenkins, Nexus, Ansible, etc… Each of these tools serve a role in hybrid cloud automation, however, every one of them represents a technology silo which eventually leads to potentially costly and unnecessary integration challenges. What’s more, they represent ongoing costs in any organization that is actively engaged in leveraging new technologies and opportunities as they emerge.

What’s A Public Cloud?

A public cloud typically involves infrastructure (compute, storage, and networking) as a service (IaaS) being run and supported by a third party (e.g. AWS, Google) in data centers accessible via APIs over the Internet. Usually SaaS offerings (operating on the administered infrastructure) also exist (e.g., database, message queuing, etc.). Commonly, public clouds function at an incredibly high scale.

What’s A Private Cloud?

A private cloud generally makes reference to cloud software running on physical servers maintained in-house in enterprise data centers or on-premises.

Some examples of this type of software include Openstack, AzureStack and VSphere. Cloud software strips away the physical hardware and employs virtualization to deliver virtual servers (and network, storage and other services), via a UI and API.

What Is A Hybrid Cloud?

A hybrid cloud is a solution which joins a private cloud to one or more public cloud services, along with the use of proprietary software to communicate with each distinct service. Typically, a hybrid cloud approach will give businesses a more flexible approach by shifting workloads across cloud solutions depending on demand and expense.

The key reason hybrid cloud services are now powerful is because they provide businesses with more control over their private data.

A company is able to store sensible data on a private cloud or local data center and still leverage the robust compute resources of a public cloud under management – and run everything in a single glass plane.

What are hybrid Cloud Solutions?

Hybrid cloud solutions capitalize on the various functionalities and features of several cloud platforms and in some cases classic on-premises resources as well. Also, it provides security network connectivity for users to SaaS and PaaS suppliers which can also be part of the solution.

Another example is cloud bursting, which is a solution specifically for the private/public hybrid that adds storage and compute capacity from the public cloud when the private cloud is saturated. Cloud bursting can provide greater availability to systems that experience spikes in demand, particularly the predictable ones.

IOT and edge clouds could be included within the overall hybrid cloud solution as well. It could look like the opposite of the cloud bursting scenario, in which operational control is kept on a public cloud, and smaller private edge clouds are used to provide low-latency services in close proximity to end users.

While a hybrid cloud solution can meet data privacy concerns, that may make on-premises or private cloud residency mandatory for sensitive data, it can still leverage public cloud resources extensively for anonymous or less sensitive data.

Alternatively, solutions that proactively engage the capabilities of the underlying cloud according to its features (security, locality, availability, services) for the placement of workloads.

How does hybrid cloud architecture work?

Managing public cloud and private cloud resources consistently is better than managing cloud environments individually since it lowers the chance of process redundancies. Separating management of environments can lead to an increased risk of security breaches, particularly when they are not completely optimized to function with one another.

A hybrid cloud architecture may remove multiple security risks by restricting exposure of private data to the public cloud.

Typically, hybrid cloud architecture combines a public infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform, a private cloud or data center, and access to a secure network. There are plenty of hybrid models that leverage local area networks (LANs) as well as wide area networks (WANs).

Companies that adopt a hybrid cloud strategy generally begin with an IaaS solution and stretch the capabilities to the private cloud. To effectively deploy a hybrid strategy, the public and private clouds should be inter-working so they can communicate. However, often the private cloud is built to be compliant with the public solution.

What is hybrid cloud used for? 

Organizations within a broad array of industries are turning to hybrid cloud solutions to cut expenses and boost agility.

From finance to healthcare, hybrid cloud environments are not only proving effective in improving compute and storage power, but also in driving cost savings and decreasing dependence on on-premises infrastructure. Most companies are unable to deploy on-premises servers because they do not have enough space to do so.

For industries such as healthcare, where data privacy is critical and private IT resources may not be available, a hybrid cloud strategy makes sense. It empowers teams to keep sensitive data in a private, secure on-premises data center while taking advantage of the advanced computing power of a public IaaS model. In other words, any sector that is benefitting from public cloud applications may also profit from the hybrid model.

How is hybrid cloud managed?

The complexity of managing the hybrid cloud arises from the fact that each cloud solution has its own API, storage management protocols, networking capabilities, and so on. The complexity of managing the hybrid cloud arises from the fact that each cloud solution has its own API, storage management protocols, networking capabilities, and so on. Whilst it is possible to master the complexities of each solution, this may not always be viable. Therefore, professionals in charge of hybrid cloud management would often build a single interface to manage all cloud services smoothly.

Creating an interface like this calls for a team accustomed to managing cloud solutions and effectively communicating across disparate networks. Luckily, enterprise-level management tools exist to help IT managers keep their systems operational.

Infrastructure Automation: What Is It?

Infrastructure automation (IA) refers to the automated provisioning of virtual infrastructure and services, using a mix of on-premises and cloud-based IaaS platforms.

AI tools can be applied to build reusable building blocks from scratch or even complete environments (including compute, networking and storage), often for CI/CD processes. Usually AI tools supply a declarative modeling language that allows users to set a preferred end state, versus the procedural instructions of the underlying cloud APIs.

What are the benefits of hybrid cloud?

A hybrid cloud strategy’s benefits derive directly from its ability to provide IT management with greater control over data. Fundamentally, the hybrid model allows the enterprise multiple choices so that stakeholders can choose the environment that works well for each individual use case.

The majority of businesses do not require nearly the same amount of computing power on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, an organization might notice that its resource demands only a surge during a particular time of the year. For example, a health insurance application may need twice as much computing power during the enrollment period. Instead of paying for these extra resources to go unused for most of the year, the company can economize by stretching its private resources to a public cloud only when needed.

In addition, a hybrid cloud model will require much less on-premises space than a strictly private model. A company could set up a private network on-premises to meet internal needs, only to expand automatically to the private cloud when IT resources overwhelm local availability. Now, this model could be valuable to startups that cannot fund a huge private data center, as well as to existing businesses who need to scale in a cost-effective manner.

Some hybrid cloud use cases:

The ability to scale on demand means hybrid cloud models have many business uses.

1)    New applications: Launching a new application with an untested workload carries with it a level of mystery. Cloud-driven businesses have to take on a certain amount of risk any time they try something new. Hybrid cloud mitigates that risk by reducing the need for a substantial initial investment. The company can deploy the new app and only pay for resources it uses, rather than paying for everything upfront. If the app fails or gets shelved for any reason, the business won’t be out very much money.

2)    Regulatory compliance: Certain industries are regulated to protect private data. However, not every piece of data may need to live in a private environment. Hybrid cloud allows businesses to comply with regulations while still benefiting from expanded computing power. Since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, many organizations have divided their data among several solutions so they can comply with EU regulations while operating under different regulations elsewhere.

3)    Workload anomalies: The future is unpredictable. An application might run efficiently in its current environment today but require additional computational power tomorrow. Hybrid cloud solutions adapt to workload needs, allowing service to continue smoothly even when workload requirements spike. This is often referred to as « cloud bursting » because the workload pours out of one environment into another. It’s a lot like having overdraft protection on your checking account. You want to have a failsafe in case the unexpected happens.

Is hybrid cloud right for your organization?

One effective way to match IT priorities to a company’s needs is through the hybrid cloud model. There are many organizations that can gain from the hybrid cloud compared to the other options. If there is a choice between hybrid, public and private options, hybrid definitely provides the most flexibility, a particularly strong factor for companies seeking to adopt digital transformation or keep up with regulatory compliance.

The hybrid cloud can also serve as a powerful option for companies that already have a private cloud infrastructure in place. Using platform-as-a-service (PaaS) options to interface with the public cloud makes things easier. For organizations that wish to further secure their data but not lose the power of a public cloud, they can take advantage of transferring sensitive data to a private cloud while interfacing with public resources.

Furthermore, hybrid cloud is extremely useful for companies that have dynamic workloads, vast amounts of data to process or a broad range of IT services. The flexibility, scalability and responsiveness of the hybrid model will not be underestimated. Additionally, the option to pay for additional resources strictly on an as-needed basis can assist organizations in saving considerable money.

References:

https://www.ibm.com/cloud/learn/hybrid-cloud

www.citrix.com

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/what-is-hybrid-cloud-computing/

-HADDADI Chaimae

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