Hybrid Cloud

What it is and why it matters

According to acma.gov.au, almost 14 million Australians 18 years and older actively used cloud computing services in the six months leading up to May 2013. This was up 11% from 12.6 million the previous year.

In some cases, public cloud makes perfect sense with its ease of implementation. In other cases, organisations will opt for private cloud for more control over security and customisation.

While both public and private have advantages and disadvantages, a new type of cloud called hybrid cloud has been created to take the advantages of both.

Why hybrid cloud is important

Hybrid cloud combines public cloud access like Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services with your private cloud platform. Where public cloud will typically serve numerous organisations, hybrid cloud is typically designed for a single organisation. Using hybrid cloud, private and public cloud infrastructures are allowed to communicate using an encrypted connection, which allows portability for applications and data.

There are important distinctions between private and public cloud. In a common scenario, organisations can store highly confidential data on the private cloud while using the public cloud to handle the computational resources to run applications that rely on the secure data. This allows organisations to minimise their data exposure because they are not storing sensitive data in a public cloud environment.

One of the biggest benefits to hybrid cloud is having local private infrastructure on-site and directly accessible. In certain scenarios, this can reduce latency and access time when compared to public cloud services.

With this configuration, organisations only have to pay for extra public compute time when they need it. This can create a budget friendly, long-term option instead of paying for resources that are rarely used.

Using a hybrid cloud, organisations can have their heavy computational infrastructure on premises and still offload peak workloads to the public cloud as a failover. Hybrid cloud allows organisations more control over public and private sides as opposed to a traditional public cloud only configuration.

Hybrid cloud challenges

Privacy and security

James Sanders, editor at zdnet.com who specialises in Software as a Service design, believes that hybrid cloud still poses some privacy and security issues. “Although hybrid cloud provides a variety of advantages over the public cloud alone, it still suffers from the same privacy and security issues that plague the popular perception of public cloud platform providers. Allowing information to be transported across a network that can be subject to third-party interference or tapping is, to many organisations, an unnecessary and reckless security risk.” To minimise the risk to an organisation, it’s important to make sure confidential data stays on the private side of the cloud.

Traffic that traverses multiple infrastructures can increase an organisation’s risk if not well secured. Organisations must have relevant security policies in place to minimise that risk. 

Thin IT budgets

Hybrid cloud can be expensive and require a large initial capital expense. If your organisation has a thin IT budget, they probably won’t be able to afford it. However, if you have already made an investment in current technology that can be used to build your private side of the hybrid cloud, you may be able to minimise your initial expense.

Oversimplification

Hybrid cloud can initially be oversimplified. Many organisations that have never built a hybrid cloud infrastructure have no concept of how it can quickly grow in complexity. Moving traffic and processes between compute power on the private and public side can be very complex, and it is compounded when you have to consider the security implications.

Training

Hybrid cloud can increase the demand for IT personnel that are responsible for implementing and maintaining the environment. Your staff may need additional training before they are ready to deploy a hybrid cloud model.

Keys to successfully moving/implementing hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud needs

One of the first things you need to do when evaluating hybrid cloud is to determine what you need from your cloud infrastructure. Are you trying to save money, reduce workload, or reduce computer maintenance?

It is possible that moving certain IT functions to the cloud can allow IT departments to become more innovative and permit them to focus on functions that will help the company succeed.

Categorise your applications

You will need to categorise your applications to uncover which ones are appropriate for the private side of the cloud versus the public side. This will help you determine your budget for both sides and allow you to get a better understanding of how much data will need to flow between the two infrastructures. Security is also an important part of this discussion.

Evaluate service providers

There are several factors to consider when evaluating cloud service providers. Whether you are using the service provider for your private, public, or entire hybrid infrastructure it is important to understand which pieces will be handled internally versus externally.

Before selecting a service provider, it is best to talk to some of their existing customers and find out how they currently use the service to get new ideas. Finding the right vendor is critical, so make sure you fully evaluate service providers and understand their contracts and service level agreements.

Do not feel as if you have to make the full implementation at once. It is best to start with a small private cloud and expand gradually. With the proper planning and help from people that have experience with implementation, your hybrid cloud can be a big success.

R & G Technologies Hybrid Cloud Solutions

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