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Is Hybrid Cloud the Future?

The question still remains as to whether to adopt a public cloud or set up a private cloud

In today's world where most IT organizations are inclined to use cloud architecture for their IT Infrastructure, the question still remains as to whether to adopt a public cloud or set up a private cloud. While a decision on this is driven by several factors based on the enterprise business requirements, each has its own pros and cons that are widely known.

While it is becoming clear that the future that is emerging is a hybrid cloud model, what needs to be ascertained is how difficult or how easy is it for any Cloud consumer to adopt an hybrid cloud model and the technicalities involved around it .The general perception for a Hybrid cloud is that it is a combination of a Public & Private cloud wherein the private cloud can be on premise or off premise. The data can be securely retained in the private cloud while the computation tasks can be carried out on the public cloud.

The integration between a public cloud and the private cloud has to be addressed at various key levels such as data & application portability between the clouds, data storage, management, security, compliance etc. There are many cloud providers in the market today who claim to provide Hybrid cloud services but there are complexities which need to be addressed in terms of enabling the cloud interoperability.

While there are clear advantages and challenges for a Hybrid cloud model , the recent downtime at Amazon EC2 and similar such occurrences in the past has further strengthened the position for enterprises opting for cloud architecture to embrace a Hybrid cloud set up.

The following diagram gives a high level view of a hybrid Cloud


Factors to Be Considered for Hybrid Cloud Adoption
Some of the key considerations for a Cloud consumer planning to adopt a Hybrid Cloud set up are as below

  • Application workloads - Identifying the most suited workloads for a Hybrid cloud set up.
  • Connectivity between the Cloud services - Network Bandwidth requirement between the Public & private cloud for data portability, application connectivity etc.
  • Data Security in transit - How data security is ensured while traversing across clouds
  • Access Control - user access control requirements
  • Storage & data management - Offsite or Onsite storage
  • Hypervisor technology used in the cloud environment

Application Workloads
Ad-hoc and dynamic workloads are best suited for a hybrid cloud, Applications are run on an on-premise/ private cloud under normal load conditions and to meet sudden spikes/demands a public cloud can be used for the workload computation. In some cases a hybrid cloud model can also be adopted to ensure business continuity (ex: the production running on a private cloud while the DR can be set up on a public cloud).

Connectivity Between the Cloud Services (Private & Public clouds)
In a hybrid cloud model, the workload is expected to traverse between the private cloud and the public cloud via the Internet. The Bandwidth requirement has to be worked out based on the amount of data that is anticipated to be sent across between cloud services. To ensure the QoS and latency requirements are met it is advisable that due care is taken and network/WAN bandwidth may be  calculated considering the network traffic as well. It is recommended that a secure VPN tunnel over the internet is established between the private & public cloud services used by the organization for the hybrid cloud model.

Data Security in Transit
Ensuring security of data in transit is one of the major considerations while adopting a hybrid cloud model. The data from the private cloud must be encrypted before it is sent out into the public cloud. The data transit should happen over a secure VPN tunnel established between the private and public clouds.

Access Control
Role-based access control should be enforced to ensure data protection on the hybrid cloud. The user roles are to be defined in such a way that the encrypted data that is stored in the public cloud can be decrypted only by users assigned with that specific role.

Storage & Data Management
This is one of the most critical aspects that need to be factored while planning for a hybrid cloud model. There are no clear standards yet defined on how the storage across the public & private clouds can be integrated, however by using custom integration (cloud storage APIs) or cloud storage gateways heterogeneous cloud storage can be built by integrating the Public cloud storage & the Private cloud storage.

Hypervisor Technology
A check needs to be done on the hypervisor technology used by the Private and the Public cloud service providers. It is easier to migrate the applications if the hypervisor technology used in the Private  & Public cloud (hybrid cloud set up) are the same, else compatibility & conversion complexities may arise when applications have to be moved across the cloud.

Conclusion
Though hybrid cloud is being considered the future, there is a wide range of integration and interoperability concerns that still need to be addressed before more enterprises can successfully start adopting this model.

More Stories By Bijush Ramachandran

Bijush Ramachandran is a Technology Architect with Cloud Practice of Infosys Ltd. He has around 10+ years of experience in the IT Infrastructure domain, both in consulting and implementation.He has wide experience in VMware , datacenter design and implementation. He holds certifications on VCP4.1,VSP4,VTSP4,IBM Cloud-Solution Advisor-V1, IBM Cloud -Infra ArchitectV1 & ITIL

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