IT professionals have been claiming that the future of IT architecture is the hybrid cloud. While it offers significant benefits, there are also significant challenges to overcome when building and supporting hybrid cloud infrastructures – the combination of public and private cloud application delivery environments.
The goal of each part of the hybrid cloud is consistent and reliable delivery of applications and data, but different design, support, and management of the different clouds can challenge the most experienced IT team. It is difficult to support the two different environments, and it is even harder to integrate them into a unified application delivery infrastructure.
Hybrid is for Transitions
Hybrid cloud designs are usually considered for two use cases. The first is cloud bursting – the ability to add application delivery resources quickly and easily by temporarily adding resources in the public cloud. Cloud bursting takes advantage of the elasticity benefit that cloud architectures provide.
The other use case is cloud first, which is when a new application is deployed on the network, and businesses put the application in the public cloud first. The public cloud offers the benefit of a flexible and scalable infrastructure that is readily available at a moment’s notice. It is easier and quicker to deploy a new application in the public cloud rather than building all of the components in the private environment from scratch.
Clouds are Not Created Equal
Private clouds are the result of the continuing evolution of legacy infrastructures. The combination of virtualization and application delivery technologies has enabled businesses to create their own fully managed IT architectures. It is safe to say that like snowflakes, no two private clouds are identical. Business requirements, vendor-specific technologies, and IT architecture preferences all play a role in the creation of customized private cloud designs.
Public clouds, on the other hand, are off-the-shelf solutions that have pre-built components in the environment that the business must accept and incorporate into its IT design. Technologies used in the private cloud may not be available within the public cloud. IT organizations must build around these limitations before they can extract the benefits of elasticity and agility that the public cloud offers.
It is not easy to integrate the components of the private cloud with the public cloud to offer a single architecture without increasing operational complexity. The use of different technologies along with the different levels of management and ownership of the cloud components makes full integration near impossible.
There are efforts to provide tools and APIs to integrate the management and orchestration of the different cloud architectures. Openstack, NFV, SDN, and other technology initiatives provide some tools to unify the multiple components, but the evolution and adoption of these technologies is still in the nascent stages of development.
Outsource or In-House? Or Both?
In the business world, it is not common to find a solution that attempts to integrate an in-house solution and its processes with an outsourced solution that delivers a similar platform. The complexities of managing both solutions along with the challenges of integrating them into a unified operational model make a hybrid cloud solution extremely hard to execute successfully.
For example, the scuba diving industry works much like the public cloud model. The certification organizations develop the standards and criteria for the different levels of diving proficiency, but ultimately, the training process is handled by individual, certified diving instructors. Operational processes are in place to ensure that the instructors maintain the established quality standards.
This is similar to the public cloud model where the service delivery infrastructure is not directly owned and supported by the business. In the scuba diving certification model, it does not make sense to have a separate internal team to provide diving certifications as well, since supporting both groups of instructors, like managing hybrid architectures, can be arduous.
Businesses are correct to have private and public cloud infrastructures, but integrating them into a single hybrid cloud architecture is not currently an effective strategy. Decisions must be made to determine whether an application is best suited for a public cloud or private cloud environment based on its availability, scalability, reliability, and security requirements.
Only when the pros and cons of the different applications in the different environments are properly weighed can businesses execute their vision for a successful IT architecture.
Frank Yue is the Director Application Delivery Solutions for Radware (News - Alert) (News - Alert). In this role, Yue is responsible for evangelizing technologies and trends around Radware’s ADC (News - Alert) solutions and products. He writes blogs, produces solution architectures, and speaks at conferences and events around the world about application networking technologies. Prior to joining Radware, Yue was at F5 Networks (News - Alert) (News - Alert), delivering their global messaging for service providers. Yue has also covered deep packet inspection, high performance networking, and security technologies. Yue is a scuba diving instructor and background actor when he is not discussing technology.
Edited by Alicia Young