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The Ultimate Guide to Hybrid Cloud Architecture

The Ultimate Guide To Hybrid Cloud Architecture

The cloud has paved new operational avenues for businesses across all industries. Instead of having to maintain local, capital- demanding infrastructure and relying on internal services alone, most have (naturally) shifted towards acquiring readily-available resources and technology from cloud services providers. But how do you settle on a particular cloud solution when market players are rushing to outdo one another with better infrastructure, more attractive pricing, and cutting-edge security innovations?

Perhaps there’s a better answer. Instead of getting locked-in with a single provider, you should build a diversified portfolio of cloud assets to mix-and-match, depending on your needs.

Welcome to the realm of hybrid cloud computing.

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What is Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud leverages the best of on-premise, public cloud and private cloud services to flexibly deploy and run business workloads.
Hybrid cloud infrastructure incorporates three delivery models:
Traditional data center and/or a locally-hosted private cloud
Managed private cloud hosted within a cloud service provider’s data center
Portfolio of public-cloud services
Various cloud-resource combinations may be generated in your portfolio, on an as-needed basis. For instance, private IaaS solutions can happily co-exist with publicly hosted SaaS applications.

Hybrid cloud has become a significant enabler of digital business transformation, even for legacy companies who weren’t “born in the cloud.” By permitting workloads to move between private and public clouds as computing needs and costs change, hybrid cloud provides businesses greater flexibility and more data deployment options. Thanks to coordinated management and automated provisioning, hybrid cloud architecture significantly boosts the availability, scalability and utilization of IT resources, while reducing operational costs.

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How to Optimize Your Hybrid Cloud Strategy

The Benefits of Hybrid Cloud

While enterprises are increasing their cloud spend, currently, about 20% to 30% of work is being done through the cloud. What was previously projected to take 8 to 10 years to get to a level of 80% is now expected to be reached in only three years.

This has been accelerated by recent events that initiated the need for staff to work remotely, to enable digital commerce, and to provide services such as telehealth, entertainment streaming, and remote learning. The increased use of application containerization, virtualization and edge computing are big enablers as well.

At the same time, certain workloads which have been hastily lifted to public cloud resources are being repatriated to on-prem infrastructure or private cloud. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of organizations in a recent survey said they needed to repatriate applications due to low performance and/or because the cost of public cloud was higher than expected.3 This points to a need for careful planning in placement and rightsizing workloads.

There are clear benefits to hybrid cloud, and not all of them are focused on IT.

Portability

The trend to develop cloud-native applications in containers with microservices architectures helps facilitate workload portability between public and private clouds. As data consumption and usage rates of applications are better understood, these types of workloads can be easily rebalanced as needed in a hybrid cloud.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership

The elasticity, workflow, and resource-usage optimization enabled by hybrid cloud and IT transformation translates into lower TCO. Granular visibility into resource usage and respective costs provide even greater control over spending. Virtual machine instances per administrator can provide a guide as to where to run applications most cost effectively.

Enhanced Operational Efficiency

The ability to burst to public cloud resources minimizes downtime and lets organizations easily sustain peak loads. Development teams can instantly use cloud integration capabilities. Or teams can choose to tap into the readily available services offered by providers, including BI, machine learning, automation, AI, IoT, and other leverageable tech stacks.

As infrastructure is becoming programmable, the operation of composable infrastructure, wherever it resides, is becoming increasingly automated. This requires less manual intervention and routine administration than legacy system equivalents.

Minimal Risk

For companies with low cloud maturity, the hybrid cloud is an excellent toe-dipping option. An IT department can experiment by migrating non-critical workloads before moving more sensitive data and applications to the new private environment. Additionally, a multi-cloud strategy mitigates the risk of vendor lock-in; even if one service provider goes out of business (or experiences other issues), your business’s operation should be unaffected.

Increased Availability and Accessibility

The ability to burst to public cloud resources minimizes downtime and lets organizations easily sustain peak loads. Development teams can instantly use cloud integration capabilities. Or teams can choose to tap into the readily available services offered by providers, including BI, machine learning, automation, AI, IoT, and other leverageable tech stacks.

As infrastructure is becoming programmable, the operation of composable infrastructure, wherever it resides, is becoming increasingly automated. This requires less manual intervention and routine administration than legacy system equivalents.

Improved Business Continuity

IDC’s research shows that organizations that modernize IT for cloud consistency have⁴

  • 94% more effective bandwidth
  • 64% faster data backups
  • 86% faster data recovery
  • 87% less frequent unplanned outages
  • 90% less productive time lost due to unplanned downtime

Business Agility

Hybrid cloud architecture has become a proven catalyst for transformational change, even for traditional organizations who also want to play by the “startup” rulebook. The advantages in cost savings, availability, flexibility and operational improvements enable businesses to create new revenue sources, expand into new markets and explore new business models.
Hybrid cloud architecture has become a proven catalyst for transformational change, even for traditional organizations who also want to play by the “startup” rulebook. The advantages in cost savings, availability, flexibility and operational improvements enable businesses to create new revenue sources, expand into new markets and explore new business models.

Why Hybrid Cloud Architecture is Important for Businesses

Hybrid cloud’s key selling point is that it enables the seamless use of public cloud services, in conjunction with line-of-business applications. Successful startups such as Airbnb and Uber have outpaced their competition by strategically utilizing a multi-cloud infrastructure to deliver new omni-channel experiences to consumers. Today’s traditional enterprises are challenged to keep up the set pace.

By leveraging multiple cloud services, your business:

Depending on your needs, you may combine services from both on-premises and off-premises resources to accelerate time-to-market for new offerings, while balancing development costs.

No longer restricted to launching monolith applications, you can also deploy standalone micro-services that complement and enhance your main offerings. Forget the long deployment cycles and welcome agility.

Using Hybrid Cloud Architecture:

Key Considerations for Hybrid Cloud Adoption

Hybrid cloud architecture’s “silver lining” is compelling. But no transformational process is without its challenges. When it comes to hybrid cloud migration, three critical success factors should be taken into consideration.
Hybrid cloud adoption is not a “lift & shift” operation. It requires careful workload orchestration—from business processes, through the application, platform, and infrastructure. Your first task is to de-tangle the current intricate system of workflows running on-premises (and perhaps even in the cloud).

Certain workflows are inherently better suited for the public cloud. Legacy applications—that weren’t built with the cloud in mind—may be easier to replatform or repurpose for the private cloud. Establishing workload destinations and placements is a balancing act between performance, system dependency, cost, security and integration.

To determine the optimal workflow placements, consider the following technical characteristics:

Performance

Studies have shown that high-performance, data-heavy workflows tend to be better suited for private clouds. The chart below shows optimal placement of workloads based on characteristics.

A private cloud with a high level of utilization is more likely to meet the ‘scale’ factor that makes private cloud cheaper than public cloud.

A unified hybrid cloud can achieve this ‘best of both worlds’ by securing predictable, inexpensive capacity as a baseline for most day-to-day requirements, with the freedom of being able to consume on-demand public cloud when demand grows beyond capacity.

Security

Certain workflows, both internal and external, are subject to stricter security compliance. Applications processing in-house data or storing personally identifiable information (PII) may not be suitable candidates for the public cloud. Beyond this, you should benchmark the risk of exposing any intellectual property or strategic data versus the rewards of migrating those from a traditional data center to a hybrid environment. Security solutions tend to be readily available only for certain workflows (e.g. email) and are less mature for complex workflows related to scientific and R&D operations. Carefully assess how the proposed change in the workflow could affect your risk.

Integration

Your workflow placement will be impacted by the complexity and quantity of integrations so it’s important to clearly identify the extent of your applications’ interdependence. Breaking up a monolith architecture may not be worth the migration trade-offs. On the other hand, decoupling certain workflows from legacy applications can give your company competitive agility. Check to see if your legacy applications provide APIs. If not, those could be modernized by wrapping them with RESTful APIs or through development of microservices. Migration of specific applications may be discouraged, based on proximity, or on security and hardware requirements. Refactoring or replacing such applications may be uneconomical; better to let them remain on-prem.

Data Volume

Large local datasets can cost a fortune to transfer remotely. Ensure that long-term cloud storage will be more cost-effective than maintaining local data centers. Physical location of data is important as well—due to both compliance and performance requirements.

Be sure to ask the following:
  • What is the ROI of moving the workflow? How do the benefits compare to the risks?
  • Where will we place the workflow: geographical location, provider, and cloud type?
  • How will the migration occur? Do we need external expertise for refactoring and re-architecting certain applications?
Be realistic. Workflow assessment and migration are tedious processes that may require outside expertise.
Public cloud providers always specify their preferred connection methods. If your portfolio will leverage several service providers, you must ensure their standards match. To avoid any performance issues, private clouds within your portfolio will need to be similarly connected. Your main goal is to to deflect possible bottlenecks by ensuring a consistent connection between all the elements in your environment. Some hybrid workloads may have a low tolerance for the internet’s variations in throughput. So you may need to establish a point-to-point connection between the cloud service provider and your data center.

Maintaining a high-performing hybrid WAN presents another challenge to address. The new cloud architecture will alter data traffic patterns and likely require re-architecting of WANs to avoid performance setbacks. Sometimes, the best way to steer traffic (based on application requirements) may require a direct connection to public cloud, without backhauling to the data center. However, this may also result in wasted bandwidth while creating additional security threats. In general, an over-reliance on the internet as part of your WAN strategy may open new vulnerabilities, endangering sensitive data and network uptime.
Even as the adoption of hybrid cloud grows, security is still viewed as a challenge. For multi-cloud environments, you will need to define a custom security-perimeter that accounts for the following:

Unified Governance

Aligned governance processes should apply to public cloud services, private cloud services, and on-premises systems.

Isolation Failure

Ensure that no element in the cloud system provides a “back-door” into the internal systems, after they are integrated into the hybrid environment.

Shared Handling and Reporting of Security Incidents

Monitoring, detecting and reporting need to be shared between all entities within the environment. The public cloud service level agreement should specify the rules for reporting threats in accordance with internal policies.

Compliance and Legal Risks

Ensure public cloud services don’t compromise your compliance status. Many data privacy laws now contain aspects of data sovereignty. For example, GDPR and other privacy regulations require personal data to remain in the geography of origin.

Service Unavailability

Hybrid systems should be designed with greater resilience that accounts for possible disruptions in hardware, software, or communication network failures.

Application Protection

This becomes more challenging whenever an application relies on cloud services in a mix of environments.

Multiple Interfaces

With more interfaces comes more risk. And each comes with its own set of security and privacy standards. This risk can be proactively mitigated by adopting a hybrid cloud management platform.

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An Easy Option to Consider: Managed Service for Hybrid Cloud

Bring a new kind of cloud experience to all of your apps and data no matter where they live. Accelerate your cloud adoption with HPE GreenLake Hybrid Cloud, a vendor-agnostic multi-cloud, multi-stack managed service for public and private clouds.

Select the services you need, choose where to deploy, and get the right expertise to simplify and manage any or all of IT.

Anexinet has been chosen by Hewlett Packard Enterprise as a GreenLake services provider for their expertise in cloud migration, workload optimization, and IT operations.

Founded in 2000, Anexinet understands that every organization’s digital transformation journey is unique. Whether you need help creating custom software or finding and managing the best platform to run it on, we’re built to deliver the outcomes that today’s modern organizations require. We have the capabilities, experience and expertise to help you select, customize and implement a full hybrid cloud solution that provides dependable and measurable results.
¹Harvard Business Review, What CEOs Need to Know About the Cloud in 2021, March 2021
²Virtana, State of Hybrid Cloud and Migration, February 2021
³TechTarget, Reduce Risk With a Consistent Hybrid Cloud That Strengthens Security and Business Continuity, 2020
⁴451 Research, The Economic Case for Hybrid Cloud

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