Hybridity; The Future Mainstay

With the emergence of cloud technology being the mainstay of collaborative and efficient working, the term hybrid cloud has been bandied around with much speculation in recent months.

I think that if you ask five people the same question – “what is hybrid cloud technology?” you will get five different answers!

A hybrid (anything really) is something that has been produced from two different things especially to get, create or breed better characteristics or performance.

With cloud computing, this is exactly the case and should not be confused with HPC, Scalable technology, burstable resources or anything else. These are simply marketing descriptions that already exist in the industry today. Simply putting together two services that share some common infrastructure (SaaS application access or running two or more SaaS applications) isn’t really a hybrid model in my opinion. So lets look at this in a little more detail.

Any hybrid cloud challenges traditional views on IT infrastructures to gain the best performance for the individual business needs. This may include a number of differing solutions from Public IaaS such as AWS and MS Azure, PaaS, SaaS and a multitude of other IT deployments including private clouds, dedicated infrastructures, be they hosted with varying specialist providers or even on premise and collocated IT deployments and in my opinion the following issues need to be thrashed out before considering a move to a true hybrid cloud solution: cloud management

With disparate clouds, each provider will potentially utilise different tools and management platforms. This comes with its own challenges but put this together with conjoining other technologies, other cloud platforms with other provider’s policies and procedures, it becomes a positive minefield of issues. A common management platform helps with API’s that can accommodate the management complexity as well as the orchestration of resources.

Connectivity

If Public/Private hosted clouds are utilised you must look at latency, bandwidth reliability (especially to disparate services) as well as the Network Layer.
Not only must bandwidth, latency, reliability and associated cost considerations be taken into account, but also the logical network topology must be carefully designed (networks, routing, firewalls etc).

When discussing the benefits of a hybrid model one must consider the move to this cloud model as an end goal. Small steps can be made before undertaking the daunting task of tackling disparate technologies from independent vendors.

Also, public cloud is a big step for anyone, consolidating management portals, SDN usage to extend the enterprise, automation issues and others. Wouldn’t it be much easier to pick one provider to manage these issues for you? The cloud is becoming more and more complex with the speed of innovation becoming constant and in business it’s a full time job addressing operational changes that are not tech related. Now, try to understand and manage the cloud computing changes that affect your business, its tough. Take a small steps approach and get good advice from your trusted advisors in technology, whoever they are, and don’t be hoodwinked by marketing spin and industry acronyms for the sake of keeping up with the Jones’s.

Security

Let’s also not forget the importance of security. With the multitude of security principles available you will need to pick wisely. Ask yourself this:

Can my security principles be applied to a Public Cloud presence?
In many cases I doubt it, so a Private Hybrid would probably be your preferred approach.

How do I know that another vendors internal and external policies are suitable?
Simply, you don’t and due diligence is needed!

Do other vendors that I utilise compete with my current incumbent providers? Competition is healthy in business, but Cloud commoditisation is rife and each provider will be begging for your business, and maybe to your detriment.

So, we can take this to one more level of explanation, Vertical Markets.

For financial service businesses, regulation is key to sustainability and compliance. Can you apply your IT industry specific regulatory rulings to a public cloud? No is often then answer. Can you apply them to a private cloud environment? Of course you can. However this does not mean that you will not be able to have a hybrid model, just that careful consideration is needed for the commodity elements of your technology, which workloads sit where, and the regulating bodies understanding on “what and where” said services can be stored and accessed from.

In summary

A hybrid cloud is a combination of different clouds, private, public or a mixture of both. The biggest issue/ challenge to consider is the management and support of the different technologies. I believe a private hybrid model will be the mainstay going forward with management platforms. As with the hybrid cloud model you can have the best of both worlds, security with flexibility.

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