Traditional cloud architecture
First, we learned about private clouds, or virtualized environments that were created so that users within that organization could access servers and other resources needed in an on-demand fashion to support their organization’s workloads without any sharing of those resources outside their organization. Private cloud infrastructure like this is usually, but not always, created utilizing resources within a company’s own on-premises data center. Then as time progressed, someone told us about public clouds, or clouds that are publicly accessed and consumed. This means that all hardware-based networking, storage, and compute resources are owned and managed by a third-party provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Though workloads are partitioned for data security, these resources are shared by the customers of a particular public cloud provider. The big advantage of public clouds was not having to manage the resources yourself and much more agility than you could get in your on-prem environment.
What is hybrid cloud architecture?
Hybrid cloud architecture is the design and implementation of a cloud computing environment that combines elements of both public and private clouds. A hybrid cloud architecture typically includes a mix of cloud computing models, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS), as well as various deployment models, such as on-premises, private cloud, and public cloud. It also includes networking, security, and management tools to ensure seamless integration and interoperability between different cloud environments.
The design of a hybrid cloud architecture depends on several factors such as:
Business and IT requirements: The specific requirements of an organization for scalability, agility, security, compliance, and cost-effectiveness determine the design of a hybrid cloud architecture. For example, an organization that requires high security and control over their data may choose to use a private cloud for sensitive workloads, while an organization that requires high scalability and cost savings may choose to use a public cloud for non-sensitive workloads.
Workload characteristics: The characteristics of workloads, such as data volume, processing power, and storage requirements, also influence the design of a hybrid cloud architecture. Workloads that require high performance may be run on a private cloud, while workloads that require high scalability may be run on a public cloud.
Connectivity requirements: The design of a hybrid cloud architecture also depends on the connectivity requirements between different cloud environments. This includes establishing connectivity between on-premises infrastructure, private cloud resources, and public cloud services, as well as ensuring data and application portability across different cloud environments.
Compliance and regulatory requirements: Organizations that operate in regulated industries or regions must comply with specific regulatory requirements, such as data privacy, security, and compliance. The design of a hybrid cloud architecture must consider these requirements to ensure that data and applications are secure and compliant.
Budget and resources: The design of a hybrid cloud architecture also depends on the budget and resources available to an organization. Organizations must balance the cost savings of using public clouds with the cost of managing and securing a hybrid cloud environment. They must also consider the availability of resources, such as IT staff, to manage and maintain a hybrid cloud environment.
Benefits of hybrid cloud computing
- Flexibility and agility: By far the most important benefit of a properly architected hybrid cloud is increased business agility. You have ready access to resources to support new applications, accommodate development and testing projects, or to quickly address unanticipated needs. In an ideal world, workloads can be moved quickly between on-premises and cloud locations, and leverage resources from multiple locations. (Unfortunately, API and architectural differences between different cloud providers make this challenging).
- Elasticity: Many industries experience big variations in resource demand. One clear example is retail, where activity spikes before the December holidays. A hybrid cloud model gives you the ability to respond elastically to resource demands. In a similar vein, many individual applications have big fluctuations in resource demand. Such applications need to run in an environment where they can grab resources when they are needed and release them when they are not, reducing overall expenses.
- Self-service: A well-designed hybrid cloud can allow IT users - such as developers and line-of-business managers - to gain access to IT infrastructure and services through a self-service portal. This not only gives them immediate access to services, it reduces the burden on IT since it no longer has to serve as the middleman.
- Faster delivery of new products and services: Hybrid cloud computing can help you deliver new products and services more quickly by eliminating barriers that slow your business and development teams down. New digital services become easier to create and deploy, and developers and test engineers can better access the resources they need when they need them.
- Cost control: A hybrid cloud model lets you run every application as efficiently as possible, while adopting a pay-as-you-go model that reduces your capital investments in infrastructure and datacenters. Designing datacenters to accommodate peak loads only to have infrastructure sitting idle much of the time is a poor choice versus adding cloud resources when needed to accommodate peak periods.
- Avoidance of lock-in: If you adopt a cloud-only model, it’s almost impossible to avoid getting locked into one or two cloud vendors. It can be cost-prohibitive to get your data out of the cloud, so you need to exercise caution before you move data from datacenters into the cloud.
- Access to the latest technology: In today’s competitive business environment, enterprises cannot afford to find themselves in a situation where they are unable to gain immediate access to technologies that could provide a business advantage. One example of this is AI. The large public clouds are innovating rapidly and offering competing services. A hybrid cloud model gives you the flexibility to use the best technology to seize opportunities.
Maintaining secure clouds
In a recent analyst report on cloud strategy leadership, several industry leading analysts concluded that the security posture of major cloud providers is as good as or better than most enterprise data centers. Security should no longer be considered a primary inhibitor to the adoption of public cloud services. However, it is not as simple as moving on-premises workloads to the cloud. Security teams should look to leverage the programmatic infrastructure of public cloud IaaS. Automating as much of the process as possible will remove the potential for human error — generally responsible for successful security attacks. Keeping track of security controls needs to be programmatic for ensuring complete cloud compliance.
While a hybrid and multicloud strategy has many benefits, it creates a real risk that your enterprise data becomes fragmented. Lack of visibility can make it very difficult to identify and track data resources, including where they are and whether or not they’re adequately protected. Reports of data left unprotected in the public cloud add to enterprises’ concerns about storing critical data there. In many cases these data sets were exposed simply because operators weren’t familiar with the security model and tools in a given cloud. To ensure that you have the proper visibility and security over your clouds—public and private—make sure you enforce a “security-first” model that maintains continuous monitoring and management of cloud security risks and threats. This model will leverage innovative tools and automation that detect security threats in real time, act on those threats, and measure security and compliance results. Evaluate and add tools that monitor cloud security and governance continuously, performing automatic health checks on a regular basis, and understand that in a public cloud world security is a “shared responsibility” between the user and the cloud vendor.
Is hybrid cloud computing becoming more popular?
Hybrid cloud computing is becoming more popular due to its ability to provide organizations with the best of both worlds - the scalability and cost-effectiveness of public cloud services and the control and security of private cloud infrastructure. This flexibility allows organizations to choose the most appropriate cloud environment for each workload or application, optimizing cost, performance, and security. In addition, hybrid cloud allows organizations to easily scale their IT infrastructure to meet changing demands while maintaining control over their data and applications. The need for greater agility, innovation, and efficiency is driving the adoption of hybrid cloud computing among organizations of all sizes and industries, and it is expected to continue to grow in popularity in the years to come.
How to create a strategy for hybrid cloud?
Your enterprise needs a cloud operating system that gives you the ability to monitor, manage, and orchestrate across all environments using a single set of tools. Most approaches to hybrid cloud are based on a strategy of trying to determine the best way to make all the disparate pieces—legacy infrastructure in your datacenters, public clouds, and cloud service providers—somehow work together. Based on the realities of the current cloud environment, this approach has a higher likelihood of success:
- Choose a single framework—a “cloud operating system”—that will allow you to manage workloads on-premise and in the cloud.
- Modernize your on-premises environments in accordance with that framework.
- Choose only public clouds and CSPs compatible with that framework.
Private cloud functions as the foundation of a hybrid cloud strategy. The ideal core of that private cloud foundation is a hyperconverged infrastructure core. The efficacy of this approach is contributing to the more than 70 percent of organizations now repatriating workloads back on-premises.
Nutanix provides the fastest path to hybrid environment
In today’s digital innovation era many organizations need to operate their applications and data in an environment spanning on-premises private clouds and public clouds. It does not need to be difficult. Expanding from private to public cloud can pose challenges, including the need to manage complex networking, re-architecting applications, managing multiple infrastructure tools for various clouds, security and more. There is a pressing need for a single platform that can span private, distributed and public clouds so that operators can manage their traditional and modern applications using a consistent cloud platform.
Nutanix delivers the industry’s first hybrid multicloud platform with the flexibility, simplicity and cost efficiency needed to run applications in private or multiple public clouds. Nutanix extends the simplicity and ease of use of Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) software as well as the full Nutanix stack to public clouds like AWS and, soon, also on Azure. Using the same platform on private and public clouds, Nutanix dramatically reduces the operational complexity of migrating, extending or bursting your applications and data between clouds. This hybrid cloud solution allows operators to use a single management plan to truly manage both their private and public cloud infrastructure managed and operated as a single cloud.