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Are You Ready for the Hybrid Cloud?
Enterprise IT infrastructure has altered dramatically over the last five years, particularly with the emergence of cloud computing, which has transformed from a relatively unheard of concept to something that many businesses now want to adopt.
The hybrid cloud, which is a popular choice for enterprises, combines private cloud (internal) and public cloud (external) services, connected using encryption technology over a wide area network (WAN).
- The public cloud refers to compute and storage provided over the Internet as services to paying customers. Popular public cloud vendors include Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Some services provide AWS storage for moving on-premise data to AWS
- The private cloud is a distinct and secure computing environment only accessible and operable by a single client, typically over a private network connection or even hosted on-premises. Popular private cloud vendors include Microsoft Private Cloud and OpenStack Private Cloud.
Between 2016 and 2017, hybrid cloud adoption increased three-fold among surveyed companies, jumping from 19 percent to 57 percent. Some big-name hybrid cloud providers are Microsoft, AWS, VMware, and EMC.
In this article, you’ll find out some compelling reasons to migrate to the hybrid cloud. You’ll also be informed on five important steps you can take for a migration to a hybrid cloud setup, based on established best practices.
Hybrid Cloud Use Cases
- Disaster Recovery — A hybrid cloud setup is a cost-efficient and practical option for disaster recovery. An on-premise private cloud acts as the main data center and hub for running applications. Enterprises can easily failover to a public cloud service provider in the event of a natural or human-induced disaster, all while forgoing the need to pay IT costs for expensive backup hardware.
- Cloud Bursting — Cloud bursting enables organizations to effortlessly deal with peaks in demand for IT resources by redirecting overflow traffic from the private cloud to the public cloud. The huge economic benefit from cloud bursting is that enterprises only pay for the additional compute or storage resources when there is an actual need for them. The caveat with cloud bursting is that there is a need for strong adherence to compliance requirements for sensitive data, some of which cannot be stored in public cloud systems.
- Archive Data — For data with less stringent regulatory requirements, a hybrid cloud setup is ideal for archiving older data, moving it from the on-premise private cloud to a public cloud provider. Archive public cloud storage offered by the likes of AWS Glacier is extremely cheap.
- Agile Software Development — Companies have been urging their developers to increase the speed at which they code, test, and release business software. The hybrid cloud enables agile development by allowing developers to automatically provision environments either on-premises or in a public cloud and then move those environments between the two types of cloud depending on resources and costs. Third-party tools like Chef allow the creation of “recipes” to completely automate the creation of development environments, dynamically initiating them in either the public or private cloud.
5 Steps To Prepare For The Hybrid Cloud
1. Understand Compliance Requirements
One of the main benefits of a hybrid setup is that it allows enterprises to run mission-critical apps in the private cloud while leveraging the benefits of the public cloud to scale up applications and store archived data.
However, there is a real need for transparency in terms of any sensitive data that could end up in public cloud systems, and enterprises must ensure that they fully understand their compliance requirements. Additionally, there must be extensive checks to make sure that the chosen public cloud provider complies with relevant industry regulations governing the movement and storage of sensitive information.
According to the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council guidelines, there is shared responsibility between the cloud service provider and its clients for protecting credit card information in any deployment model that is not truly private (on-premise).
2. Determine Cloud Type For Different Workloads
There is a need, in the initial planning stage, to decide which workloads and applications fit which types of cloud (public or private). It is perhaps a good idea to split applications into basic apps requiring little control and monitoring and mission-critical apps; the former are good candidates for public cloud hosting while the latter should be restricted to primarily on-premise deployments, except for during periods of exceptional demand.
Other approaches for determining the suitability of each cloud are to consider the level of security and integrity needed for data and workloads, and the level of IT resource elasticity required for applications, data, and workloads.
3. Take an Incremental Approach
Any type of movement towards a new IT infrastructure represents a significant risk for enterprises. The safest approach, therefore, is an incremental approach in which applications or data that is least complex to migrate can be moved to a public cloud system.
As enterprises gain more knowledge and expertise on their incremental path to a hybrid setup, they can consider the more complex use cases for the hybrid cloud, such as cloud bursting for mission-critical applications.
4. Update Security Strategies and Policies
Senior IT administrators must draw up a new security policy that reflects the risks and challenges of using cloud systems. Ideally, this step will involve hiring expert cloud security consultants. Some enterprises may even choose to pay a dedicated cloud security service provider to deliver unified security policy management across public and private clouds.
Security is of paramount importance, particularly in the cloud, and there are many possible considerations, such as network security, encryption, compliance with regulations, and proper user authentication.
5. Ensure Low-latency Connection
Underpinning the successful deployment of a full hybrid cloud setup is the need for a low-latency connection between private and public clouds to make sure that interruptions to services are minimal to non-existent.
Bandwidth issues arising during cloud bursting scenarios are of particular concern, and network bottlenecks that disturb mission-critical apps have the potential to be extremely costly. Some public cloud providers have a direct connection option between the public and private clouds, while a virtual private network is also a solid choice for low-latency connections.
- The numbers are telling in terms of what the future holds for hybrid cloud—expect to see more enterprises using a hybrid setup over the coming years.
- Other contemporary IT trends will interlink with the hybrid cloud—think Big data, real-time analytics, and the Internet of Things.
- By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure adequate preparation for a possible hybrid cloud adoption in the near future.