Should You Migrate to Hybrid Cloud Architecture?

4 Nov 2020 by James Timmerwilke

In this article, we will look at hybrid cloud infrastructure, what it is, and tips for building your environment. 

Hybrid cloud adoption is on the rise and there is a good reason for it. For DevOps and IT departments, hybrid cloud represents agility – the ability to adapt and change direction quickly as the business demands change and the technology landscape accelerates in this ever-changing digital environment.

What is the size of the hybrid cloud market? According to a recent report, the hybrid cloud market was valued at $45.70 billion at the end of 2019 and is expected to reach $128.01 billion by 2025 with a compounding annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.73% over the period from 2020-2025.

What is Hybrid Cloud?

What is hybrid cloud? A definition of hybrid cloud is an IT architecture that incorporates data and application workload portability, orchestration, and management across two or more cloud environments. Depending on who you ask, hybrid cloud environments usually contains the following elements:

  • A private cloud and a public cloud environment
  • Two or more private cloud environments
  • Two or more public cloud environments
  • A bare-metal or virtualized server connected to a public or private cloud

In the early days of cloud computing, large gaps were left between public and private cloud infrastructure capabilities. The cloud of this era was characterized by location and tenancy.

The concept of the Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and separation simply did not exist with the early days of the cloud. Cloud instances were accessed on the same network which was provided by cloud service providers (CSPs). 

However, cloud environments are now a lot more complex and offer a wide range of configuration and networking capabilities. Virtual Machines (VMs) can be categorized by the following instance types:

  • Public cloud is traditionally hosted within the CSP’s cloud data center regions and availability zones. Public clouds are accessed on-demand, highly scalable, and offer inexpensive, utility-based pricing models.
  • Private cloud are hosted on-premise, off-site in a colocation data center, or hosted within a CSP’s cloud data center regions and availability zones. They can be built with a server, storage, and networking hardware or leased from a CSP. When leased from a CSP, this is known as single-tenant, dedicated hardware and it is substantially more expensive.

Why is this important? It is important to realize that the differences between using only a public cloud or a private cloud environment can be limiting and present significant challenges for DevOps and IT-based on security and regulatory compliance concerns, enterprise software licensing issues, and budget constraints.

Deploying a hybrid cloud solves a lot of challenges for today’s digital business. Here’s how hybrid cloud infrastructure has solved the public vs. private cloud dilemma:

  • Connectivity between multiple instance types from one or more CSPs
  • Creating custom environments for different workload and demands
  • Consolidating resources and increasing cost-savings
  • Ability to move workloads to and from cloud environments
  • Orchestration procedures with automation

How does Hybrid Cloud Work?

How does hybrid cloud work? There are several elements that make hybrid cloud architecture possible. When constructed, they operate in a similar fashion to how standalone public and private cloud environments operate:

  • Networking – Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs), Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). These are used to connect instances together. NAT gateways, virtual gateways, DNS, routing tables, and load balancers will always play an important role in hybrid cloud environments.
  • Virtualization – Single tenancy and multi-tenancy computing resources, microservices and containers, and software-defined storage resources. This includes hypervisors, vCPUs, block storage, and object storage.
  • Management – Whether through a User Interface (UI) and portal, programmatic access (API), virtualized compute and storage resources can be accessed, managed, and created with authentication.

All of the elements above are critical to deploying hybrid cloud architecture. However, interconnectivity is the key to making all of this possible. It determines the way that workloads are transferred, managed and unified, and how procedures are orchestrated.

How Can I Build a Hybrid Cloud?

Here are a few steps on how you can build your hybrid cloud architecture.

Determine Your Cloud Infrastructure Requirements

There is no one-size-fits-all for building your hybrid cloud architecture. How you build your cloud infrastructure and resources is going to be as unique as your fingerprint. Need help with your cloud architecture and design? Hire a certified cloud architect today!

Where to start? The first step in building your environment is to determine your resource requirements. You will want to map your workloads with public and private cloud resources. You can do this by determining which workloads are mission-critical and contain sensitive data versus frontend applications and non-sensitive frequently or infrequently accessed data. You can start to abstract the various workloads that make up your environment – frontend applications, backend code, databases, digital assets such as images and videos, and file storage.

Select Your Cloud Service Provider(s)

There are hundreds if not thousands of cloud service providers (CSPs) to select from today. Many offer similar cloud services, pricing, and support levels. How do you know which CSP is right for your business or application?

“Selecting the right CSPs for your environment largely depends on your specific application, security posture, traffic, SLA, performance, and pricing requirements.”

Most DevOps and IT departments tend to gravitate to AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. It is the "easy button." For website designers and developers, their process may involve shopping around for low-cost, cheap cloud servers from web hosting providers like BlueHost, IONOS, OVH, Digital Ocean, and Cloudways. For others, they may require a fully managed option for their hybrid cloud environment like that provided by Rackspace. It is cloud companies like Rackspace that can help with hybrid cloud and multi-cloud management.

Select Your Middleware

Middleware, it’s the holy grail of cloud deployments. Or is it? It seems like everyone is in search of the perfect “single pane of glass” for building and managing their cloud infrastructure – public and private from one or more CSPs. Does it exist?

If you are looking for a good hybrid cloud or multi-cloud manager, it’s worth exploring Flexera, Morpheus, Spot Cloud Analyzer by NetApp, Nutanix Beam, and IBM Multicloud Manager

Building and Managing Your Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure

You can build and configure your private cloud yourself or you can use prepackaged cloud infrastructure such as those available from CloudStack. Apache CloudStack is open-source software that makes it possible to deploy and manage large networks of VMs, as a highly available, highly scalable Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

There is also software like OpenStack which you can use to build and manage your public and private cloud environments. OpenStack is a cloud Operating System (OS) that controls large pools of computational, storage, and networking resources and makes it manageable through a dashboard that gives administrators control while empowering users to provision resources through a web interface.

Connect Your Public and Private Cloud Environments

In order to make hybrid cloud possible, you have to be able to connect your public cloud and private cloud environments. This requires available resources, powerful middleware, and networking such as a preconfigured VPN. Several CSPs offer networking and VPN services as part of their cloud offering. Here are a few examples:

  • Google Cloud Dedicated Interconnect
  • AWS Direct Connect
  • Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute
  • OpenStack Public Cloud Passport

Focus on Workload & Application Portability

What is the key to successful hybrid cloud deployments? Here is a hint. It is not the cloud provider you select or the middleware you use. However, it is the portability of the applications that operate in those environments. Can your apps run equally well in a public cloud environment as a private cloud environment and vice versa?

Develop and deploy applications as collections of small, independent, and loosely coupled services. By running the same OS in each environment and managing it all through a unified platform, your application’s universality is greatly expanded and abstracts all of the hardware requirements. And with orchestration, all of your app requirements are abstracted.

The result? An interconnected, consistent environment where applications can be transferred between environments without the complex mapping of APIs.

Conclusion: Hybrid Cloud Architecture is the Future of Cloud Computing

Agree or disagree? Cloud providers are great at all cloud services? Okay, that would be impossible. Some cloud providers are better at certain things than others. Why should your applications be held hostage to a substandard service or significantly higher costs? With hybrid cloud, you can avoid vendor lock-in and optimize your costs.

I'm convinced that hybrid cloud architecture is the future of cloud computing and it is just getting started. The technology and tools available to DevOps and IT departments will significantly improve over the coming years allowing businesses to create fully customized, end-to-end cloud environments where interoperability and cost-savings come standard.

Contact us to learn more about creating your hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments. We are vendor-neutral and have the tools and cloud expertise to make your cloud migration seamless.

Author

James Timmerwilke

Over 23 years of security and data center solution experience, I have a solid understanding of the industry and strive to provide a customized solution while keeping budget top of mind. Contact me for a data center or security assessment today.

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