Cloud computing is a model for enabling ever-present, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared consortium of configurable computing resources like networks, servers, storage, applications, and services. Clouds must have five essential characteristics:
- On-demand self-service;
- Broad network access;
- Resource pooling;
- Rapid elasticity or expansion and
- Measured service.
Cloud computing from its initiation has played an exceptional role in revolutionizing most industries across the globe. Both public and private cloud computing models have helped many businesses to prosper. Organizations need flexible computing solutions that can provide benefits of both public and private cloud computing models to match the ever-changing business requirements. Hybrid Cloud Computing is one such solution and nowadays it is rapidly gaining a foothold in most businesses.
- Three types of Clouds
There are three types of cloud services: public, private, and hybrid.
Public clouds are controlled by their owners, and rent computing services to their clients. Some of such platforms are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Compute Platform, Microsoft Azure, etc.
In comparison, a private cloud runs on its own servers using cloud software such as Nextcloud, OpenStack, or VMware’s vSphere.
A hybrid cloud bridges the gap between public and private using its own special mix of public and private cloud services.
As the cloud has continued to develop, the spaces between public and private models have shrunk over time. From a business perspective, public cloud-based technology promises to replace high capital expenses (Capex) with lower operating expenses (Opex).
- The three main cloud services
Irrespective of the cloud model you use, there are three main ways to consume cloud resources: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS).
However, there are other cloud services as well, like, data as a service, test environment as a service, desktop as a service, and API as a service, but the most widely used ones are those mentioned above.
What is a Hybrid Cloud?
One can say that Hybrid cloud computing is a blend of two or more cloud computing deployment models such as public and private. Furthermore, it can also be a combination of cloud and traditional IT models. Organizations chose hybrid plans as per their business requirements.
However, generally, a Hybrid Cloud computing environment uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud and third-party, public cloud services with orchestration between the two platforms. Hybrid cloud gives businesses greater flexibility and more data deployment options by allowing workloads to move between private and public clouds with a change in computing needs and costs.
Hybrid cloud architecture
The general Hybrid Cloud Architecture includes:
- A public IaaS platform, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform;
- The construction of a private cloud, either on-premises or through a hosted private cloud provider and
- Adequate wide area network (WAN) connectivity between those two environments.
Typically, an enterprise will choose a public cloud for various operations like, accessing compute instances, storage resources or other services, such as big data analytics clusters or server-less computing capabilities but does not have any control over the architecture of a public cloud. However, for hybrid cloud deployment, they have to design their own private cloud to achieve compatibility with the desired public cloud or clouds and as such, gain control over the private cloud. Designing their own private cloud involves the implementation of suitable hardware within the data center, including servers, storage, a local area network (LAN) and load balancers.
They must then deploy a hypervisor (virtualization layer) for the purpose of creating and supporting virtual machines (VMs) and, in some cases, containers. IT teams then, must install a private cloud software, (say OpenStack) on top of the hypervisor to deliver cloud capabilities like self-service, automation, reliability and resilience, billing and chargeback, etc. A private cloud architect will then, create a menu of local services (compute instances or database instances), from which users can choose.
Remember that the key to creating a successful hybrid cloud is always to select a hypervisor and cloud software layers that are compatible with the desired public cloud so that it ensures proper inter-operability with that application programming interfaces (APIs) and services of the public cloud. It also helps in the seamless migration of instances between private and public clouds. Hybrid cloud platforms also helps developers to create various advanced applications.
Benefits of Hybrid Cloud Computing
Both small and large businesses can benefit from Hybrid Cloud computing solutions.
- LESS EXPENDITURE
Creating an in-house infrastructure consumes a lot of time and resources, but at the same time provides control and security. However, in the long run, these advantages cannot outweigh the expenditures that the company has to bear. With Hybrid Cloud computing, organizations can save a great deal of money. The money that the company would have spent otherwise on building infrastructure, hiring IT personnel, and so on, can now be invested in pushing the business forward. Another point in favor of hybrid cloud computing is that it does not impact any existing operation; also it allows all the existing technologies and tools to be reused. Another fact is that using the public cloud for storing data with less intended security can also decrease the expenditures of a company.
- BETTER DATA SECURITY
Hybrid networks are much more secure than public or private clouds, as it allows companies to store critical information on dedicated servers and the usual in public clouds. In this way, companies have complete control over their critical information by keeping them in private networks and at the same time can increase and improve their security systems.
- FLEXIBLE NETWORK OPTIMIZATION
With cloud computing networks, organizations can configure or optimize the network as per their business requirements. It helps to improve local network performance, by allowing the organizations to relocate heavy processes or traffic to a separate public or private off-premise cloud. Better bandwidth scalability and improved latency can be easily gained with flexible network optimization and as such, improves data transfer rate significantly.
Challenges of the Hybrid Cloud
Nothing is perfect or complete. Just like the benefits, Hybrid Clouds can present a few challenges: technical, business and management. Hybrid cloud requires API compatibility and solid network connectivity so that private cloud workloads can access and interact with public cloud providers.
For the public part of a hybrid cloud, some of the problems that may arise are potential connectivity issues, service-level agreements (SLA) breaches, and other possible service disruptions. Designing hybrid cloud workloads to interoperate with multiple public cloud providers can be one way to mitigate these risks; however, on the other hand, this can complicate workload design and testing.
Construction and maintenance of the private cloud itself is another challenge with hybrid cloud computing as it requires substantial expertise from local IT staff and cloud architects. Implementing additional software, such as databases, helpdesk systems, and other tools can further complicate a private cloud.
Management tools for the Hybrid Cloud
There are many management tools for Hybrid Clouds like Egenera PAN Cloud Director, RightScale Cloud Management, Cisco CloudCenter, Scalr Enterprise Cloud Management Platform, etc. These tools can help companies to handle workflow creation, service catalogs, billing and manage other tasks related to the hybrid cloud. Some more such tools include BMC Cloud Lifecycle Management, IBM Cloud Orchestrator, Abiquo Hybrid Cloud, Red Hat CloudForms and VMware vCloud Suite. However, it is important for potential adopters to test and evaluate these tools carefully in their own hybrid cloud environment before making a commitment to any particular tool.
These days hybrid cloud has become the preferred choice for most organizations as it helps them overcome the problems of both public and private clouds. However, choosing a hybrid cloud will not resolve everything. In order to get optimum use from hybrid cloud organizations must choose cloud provider services according to their business needs.