Bob Ivkovic, Principal of IT Architects
August 17, 2019
Let’s face it, everybody is moving into the cloud. If you’re not already in the cloud, you’re most likely behind your competitors. The question is whether you should go into the public or private cloud, or some hybrid. When moving to the cloud, companies have some important considerations to tackle: regulatory requirements, data security, legacy application integration, data aggregation, enterprise workflow, and the list goes one. The main difference between a public and private cloud is that you aren’t responsible for managing a public cloud hosting solution. Your data is stored in the cloud vendor’s data center while they’re responsible for managing and maintaining the data center. The private cloud, also known as an internal cloud, resides on a company’s intranet or hosted data center where all of its data is protected behind a firewall. You probably guessed that the combination of using both the public and private clouds is called a hybrid cloud, and there are reasons for going hybrid.
Many companies are drawn to a public cloud because it readily provides new products and features without worrying about testing and deploying them. However, the problem is that companies believe it is too risky to give up their data to a public cloud provider, and cannot be assured that security solutions are foolproof. Private clouds make sense for companies who already have mature data centers because they can leverage their existing infrastructure. Of course, the problem is that companies using their own private cloud must manage their own data centers. Although there is an increased level of security while resources aren’t shared with other companies, the high cost of managing server farms as data proliferates becomes unbearable. So, which one is best for your company – public or private cloud? Ultimately, the name of the game is control, and companies usually require a combination of a public and private cloud solutions – which represent a hybrid cloud model. A hybrid cloud leverages the public cloud (rapid resource provisioning and usage-based billing), while retaining the speed and reliability of private cloud solutions, and of course, avoiding vendor lock-in.
Technically speaking, what is hybrid cloud?
The role of cloud computing is to provide functional and storage capabilities to a company, while others take care of it. Thus, hybrid cloud combines the functional and storage products from public cloud services (e.g. Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure) with a private cloud infrastructure (on-premise servers deploying a cloud software stack). The public and private clouds work independently of each other, and communicate over an encrypted connection, either through the public internet or through an intranet private dedicated link. A lot depends on finding the right balance between the public and private cloud solutions, typically driven by the IT budget, maturity of internet/intranet infrastructure, regulatory compliance, integration to legacy applications, as well as the introduction of new cloud-based applications to compliment the existing application landscape. The balance between public and private cloud services is dependent on organizational requirements and priorities, and will require the participation of both the business and IT.
At the end of the day, hybrid cloud provides the best of both worlds in regards to public and private cloud computing. The public cloud allows companies to instantly provision functional and storage resources on demand, avoiding high upfront costs and development of an on-prem solution. And for those companies considering AI, the cloud offers packaged AI-powered services pertaining to image and speech recognition among others. The private cloud, on the other hand, overrides public cloud performance issues. It has the advantage of quickly delivering information and doesn’t rely on internet connectivity since it uses an on-prem servers and infrastructure. However, cost is always a factor when considering economic viability. Companies with seasonal or variable workflows may follow a cost-effective cloud strategy which promotes the private cloud to handle normal workloads, while the public cloud deals with irregular and high volume workloads.
In general, organizations that have a business requirement to safeguard against potential loss of sensitive data resulting from hardware failures, misplaced or stolen hardware, or natural disasters are a candidate for hybrid cloud.
Who do we approach for hybrid cloud solutions?
Many recognized vendors have jumped onto the hybrid cloud bandwagon. Some of the notable public cloud vendors – including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Rackspace – are making a run for the hybrid market share. These vendors provide services to ease the deployment of hybrid cloud solutions, and in many cases, use third-party partners specializing in specific industries and technologies. Some of the more popular vendor hybrid cloud solutions include the following:
- AWS Outposts. The Amazon hybrid cloud solution allows companies to extend their AWS applications using the same APIs and tools on on-premise hardware.
- Azure Stack. The Microsoft hybrid cloud solution allows companies to run Azure applications from the public Azure cloud while leveraging data hosted on-premise.
- Istio. The Cisco Hybrid Cloud Platform for Google Cloud – a new container and open-source networking technology – allows companies to use policy-driven controls to scalably connect, secure, discover, and govern connections between services both on-premises and in the cloud.
- Anthos. The open source hybrid cloud platform allows companies to build and manage hybrid applications on existing on-prem environments or in the public cloud. It is built on open source technologies pioneered by Google, including Kubernetes, Istio, and Knative. Anthos enables consistency between on-prem and cloud environments, and helps accelerate application development and enable companies with transformational technologies like service mesh, containers, and microservices.
- IBM Red Hat. The IBM hybrid cloud solution replaces or augments on-prem solutions supported by IBM.
- Fujitsu Hybrid Cloud Services. The Fujitsu hybrid cloud solution combines Fujitsu’s private cloud services with Microsoft Azure.
- Other. NTT offers hybrid cloud solutions focused on compliance with HIPAA, FISMA, and PCI regulations. Hitachi Data Systems offers customized cloud storage and computing offerings. HPE Composable Cloud supports hybrid cloud deployments by providing a unified API for IT automation.
These vendors are hired by companies to transition to a hybrid cloud. They have the expertise and experience to find a balance between delegating roles to public and private clouds. Many of these vendors provide hybrid cloud services with hardware or strategies for the private cloud. Finding a vendor that specializes in hybrid cloud and has expertise in regulatory compliance, security, and application integration is a key requirement for hybrid cloud adoption.
Mr. Bob Ivkovic is a Principal with IT Architects in Calgary, Alberta. IT Architects (www.itarchitects.ca) is an information consulting firm specializing in business process optimization, system evolution planning, and the deployment of leading-edge technologies. If you require further information, Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-630-1126.