In the years leading up to the mainstream adoption of cloud computing, businesses were faced with a choice- whether to migrate to a public cloud or a private cloud. As it turned out, it did not have to be one or the other. In many cases, the best of both worlds can be achieved through a hybrid cloud deployment model.
Although there can be certain variations, a hybrid cloud is usually a combination of a public cloud and a private cloud; the private cloud being an on-premise deployment. According to an IDC study, over 70% of heavy cloud users are leaning towards a hybrid cloud strategy. But why are businesses gravitating towards a hybrid cloud?
As implied earlier, it offers the most number of benefits. Public clouds provide better scalability, cost efficiency, and significantly faster roll outs. On the other hand, private clouds enable better control and security, as well as support for legacy applications. For most businesses, both sets of benefits are equally important.
So, assuming you choose to build a hybrid cloud, what is the best way to go about it? The following sections can point you in the right direction.
Put applications and data in the right place
In order to maximize the potential of each cloud deployment and minimize risk, you need to determine where each application and accompanying datasets should go. For example, modern applications that can readily take advantage of rapid scaling are best deployed in a public cloud. On the other hand, sensitive data, especially those covered by data privacy and protection laws, might be better off confined to the private cloud.
There are many things to consider here. How much will it cost to operate servers for your applications in a private cloud? How much will it be in the public cloud? How much latency can your users tolerate when they access your applications? What are the guaranteed service levels on each deployment? These parameters vary from one cloud to another.
A good understanding of each application’s architecture, workload, and interdependencies is required in determining where they can be best deployed. In fact, some applications should not be deployed in any cloud at all. If you do not have the in-house talent for this, you might want to acquire the services of a cloud broker. What you do at this early stage is critical to the success of your cloud investment, so you should not take any chances.
Streamline integration and connectivity
Once your applications have been placed into their respective cloud deployments, they will need to communicate with one another. They will also have to communicate with existing IT systems that didn’t make it to any of the cloud deployments. These integrations are meant to facilitate workflows, share data, or assemble all applications and data under an overarching monitoring and management system.
In these types of systems integrations, it is often safer to work with open standards / open source technologies, which can provide far better interoperability capabilities than proprietary solutions. Applications typically interconnect through APIs using widely accepted protocols like REST or SOAP.
The flow of data between integrated systems within your cloud environment as well as the availability of services relies heavily on network connectivity. Learn to mesh well-established networking fundamentals with bleeding edge technologies like Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) in order to build a robust and highly agile cloud.
Secure all clouds
One problem with a hybrid cloud is that people develop a false sense of security with it. Just because you are able to keep sensitive data in the private cloud environment does not mean it’s entirely safe. Everything is still interconnected in some way.
Thus, you have to make sure you know exactly where sensitive data lives and where it flows. That way, you can determine where to apply network segmentation, encryption, access controls, DLP, and other security measures.
Securing the cloud doesn’t just mean securing data. It also means ensuring the availability of data and services. This can be achieved by incorporating high availability, disaster recovery, and business continuity mechanisms in the design of your hybrid cloud.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but this selection of best practices can serve as a guide for deploying a secure, cost-effective, and agile hybrid cloud.