Why hybrid is the preferred strategy for all your cloud needs

Written by Kiran Kumar, Business analyst at Powerupcloud Technologies.

While public cloud is a globally accepted and proven solution for CIO’s and CTO’s looking for a more agile, scalable and versatile  IT environment, there are still questions about security, reliability, cloud readiness of the enterprises and that require a lot of time and resources to fully migrate to a cloud-native organization. This is exacerbated especially for start-ups, as it is too much of a risk to work with these uncertainties. This demands a solution that is innocuous and less expensive to drive them out of the comforts of their existing on-prem infrastructure. 

Under such cases, a hybrid cloud is the best approach providing you with the best of both worlds while keeping pace with all your performance, & compliance needs within the comforts of your datacenter.

So what is a hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud delivers a seamless computing experience to the organizations by combining the power of the public and private cloud and allowing data and applications to be shared between them. It provides enterprises the ability to easily scale their on-premises infrastructure to the public cloud to handle any fluctuations in the work-load without giving third-party datacenters access to the entirety of their data. Understanding the benefits, various organizations around the world have streamlined their offerings to effortlessly integrate these solutions into their hybrid infrastructures. However, an enterprise has no direct control over the architecture of a public cloud so, for hybrid cloud deployment, enterprises must architect their private cloud to achieve consistent hybrid experience with the desired public cloud or clouds. 

A 2019 survey (of 2,650 IT decision-makers from around the world) respondents reported steady and substantial hybrid deployment plans over the next five years. In addition to this, a vast majority of 2019 survey respondents about more than 80% selected hybrid cloud as their ideal IT operating model and more than half of these respondents cited hybrid cloud as the model that meets all of their needs. And more than 60% of them stated that data security is the biggest influencer.

Also, respondents felt having the flexibility to match the right cloud to each application showcases the scale of adaptability that enterprises are allowed to work with, in a hybrid multi-cloud environment 

Banking is one of those industries that will embrace the full benefits of a hybrid cloud, because of how the industry operates they require a unique mix of services and an infrastructure which is easily accessible and also affordable

In a recent IBM survey 

  • 50 percent of banking executives say they believe the hybrid cloud can lower their cost of IT ownership 
  • 47 percent of banking executives say they believe hybrid cloud can improve operating margin 
  • 47 percent of banking executives say they believe hybrid cloud can accelerate innovation

Hybrid adoption – best practices and guidelines 

Some of the biggest challenges in cloud adoption include security, talent, and costs, according to the report’s hybrid computing has shown that it can eliminate security challenges and manage risk, by positioning all the important digital assets and data on-prem. Private clouds are still considered to be an appropriate solution to host and manage sensitive data and applications and also the enterprises still need the means to support their conventional enterprise computing models. A sizeable number of businesses still have substantial on-premise assets comprising archaic technology, sensitive collections of data, and highly coupled legacy apps that either can’t be easily moved or swapped for public cloud. 

Here some of the guidelines for hybrid adoption 

Have a cloud deployment model for applications and data

Deployment models talk about what cloud resources and applications should be deployed and where. Hence it is crucial to understand the 2 paced system ie, steady and fast-paced system to determine the deployment models. 

A steady paced system must continue to support the traditional enterprise applications on-prem to keep the business running and maintain the current on-premise services. Additionally, off-premises services, such as private dedicated IaaS, can be used to increase infrastructure flexibility for enterprise services.

And a fast-paced system is required to satisfy the more spontaneous needs like delivering applications and services quickly whether it’s scaling existing services to satisfy spikes in demand or providing new applications quickly to meet an immediate business need. 

The next step is determining where applications and data must reside.

Placement of application and datasets on private, public or on-prem is crucial since IT architects must access the right application architecture to achieve maximum benefit. This includes understanding application workload characteristics and determining the right deployment model for multi-tier applications. 

Create heterogeneous environments 

To achieve maximum benefits from a hybrid strategy, the enterprise must leverage its existing in-house investments with cloud services, by efficiently integrating them, as new cloud services are deployed, the applications running on them with various on-premises applications and systems becomes important.

Integration between applications typically includes 

  • Process (or control) integration, where an application invokes another one in order to execute a certain workflow. 
  • Data integration, where applications share common data, or one application’s output becomes another application’s input. 
  • Presentation integration, where multiple applications present their results simultaneously to a user through a dashboard or mashup.

To obtain a seamless integration between heterogeneous environments, the following actions are necessary:

  • a cloud service provider must support open source technologies for admin and business interfaces.
  • Examine the compatibility of in-house systems to work with cloud services providers and also ensure that on-premises applications are following SOA design principles and can utilize and expose APIs to enable interoperability with private or public cloud services.
  • Leverage the support of third party ID and Access Management functionality to authenticate and authorize access to cloud services. Put in place suitable API Management capabilities to prevent unauthorized access.

Network security requirements 

Network type – Technology used for physical connection over the WAN Depends on aspects like bandwidth, latency, service levels, and costs. Hybrid cloud solutions can rely on P2P links as well as the Internet to connect on-premises data centers and cloud providers. The selection of the connectivity type depends on the analysis of aspects like performance, availability, and type of workloads. 

Security – connectivity domain needs to be evaluated and understood; to match the network security standards between cloud provider network security standards and the overall network security policies, guidelines and compliance. The encrypting and authenticating traffic on the WAN can be evaluated at the application level. And aspects like systems for the computing resources, applications must be considered and technologies such as VPNs can be employed to provide secure connections between components running in different environments.

Web apps security and Management services like DNS and DDoS protection which are available on the cloud can free up dedicated resources required by an enterprise to procure, set-up and maintain such services and instead concentrate on business applications. This is especially applicable to the hybrid cloud for workloads that have components deployed into a cloud service and are exposed to the Internet. The system that is deployed on-premises needs to adapt to work with the cloud, to facilitate problem identification activities that may span multiple systems that have different governance boundaries.

Security and privacy challenges & counter-measures

Hybrid cloud computing has to coordinate between applications and services spanning across various environments, which involves the movement of applications and data between the environments. Security protocols need to be applied across the whole system consistently, and additional risks must be addressed with suitable controls to account for the loss of control over any assets and data placed into a cloud provider’s systems. Despite this inherent loss of control, enterprises still need to take responsibility for their use of cloud computing services to maintain situational awareness, weigh alternatives, set priorities, and effect changes in security and privacy that are in the best interest of the organization. 

  • A single and uniform interface must be used to curtail or Deal with risks arising from using services from various cloud providers since it is likely that each will have its own set of security and privacy characteristics. 
  • Authentication and Authorization. A hybrid environment could mean that gaining access to the public cloud environment could lead to access to the on-premises cloud environment.
  • Compliance check between cloud providers used and in-home systems.

Counter-measures

  • A single Id&AM system should be used.
  • Networking facilities such as VPN are recommended between the on-premises environment and the cloud.  
  • Encryption needs to be in place for all sensitive data, wherever it is located.
  • firewalls, DDoS attack handling, etc, needs to be coordinated across all environments with external interfaces.

Set-up an appropriate DB&DR plan

As already been discussed, a hybrid environment provides organizations the option to work with the multi-cloud thus offering business continuity, which has been one of the most important aspects of business operations. It is not just a simple data backup to the cloud or a Disaster Recovery Plan, it means when a disaster or failure occurs, data is still accessible with little to no downtime. Which is measured in terms of time to restart (RTO: recovery time objective) and maximum data loss allowed (RPO: recovery point objective).

Therefore a business continuity solution has to be planned considering some of the key elements such as resilience, time to restart (RTO: recovery time objective) and maximum data loss allowed (RPO: recovery point objective) which was agreed upon by the cloud provider. 

Here are some of the challenges encountered while making a DR plan 

  • Although the RTO and RPO values give us a general idea of the outcome, they cannot be trusted fully so the time required to restart the operation may take longer 
  • As the systems get back up and operational there will be a sudden burst of request for resources which is more apparent in large scale disasters.
  • Selecting the right CSP is crucial as most of the cloud providers do not provide DR as a managed service instead, they provide a basic infrastructure to enable our own DRaaS.

Hence enterprises have to be clear and select their DR strategy which best suits their IT infrastructure as this is very crucial in providing mobility to the business thus making the business more easily accessible from anywhere around the world and also data insurance in the event of a disaster natural or even in case of technical failures, by minimizing downtime and the costs associated with such an event.

How are leading OEMs like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud adapting to this changing landscape  

Google Anthos

In early, 2019 google came up with Anthos which is one of the first multi-cloud solutions from a mainstream cloud provider, Anthos is an open application modernization platform that enables you to modernize your existing applications, build new ones, and run them anywhere, built on open-source, including Kubernetes as its central command and control center, Istio enables federated network management across the platform, and Knative provides an open API and runtime environment that enables you to run your serverless workloads anywhere you choose. Anthos enables consistency between on-premises and cloud environments. Anthos helps accelerate application development and strategically enables your business with transformational technologies. 

AWS Outposts

AWS Outposts is a fully managed service that extends the same AWS hardware infrastructure, services, APIs, and tools to build and run your applications on-premises and in the cloud for a truly consistent hybrid experience. AWS compute, storage, database, and other services run locally on Outposts, and you can access the full range of AWS services available in the Region to build, manage, and scale your on-premises applications using familiar AWS services and tools. across your on-premises and cloud environments. Your Outposts infrastructure and AWS services are managed, monitored, and updated by AWS just like in the cloud.

Azure Stack

Azure Stack is a hybrid solution provided by Azure built and distributed by approved Hardware vendors(like DellLenovoHPE, etc,.) that bring Azure cloud into your on-prem data center. It is a fully managed service where hardware is managed by the certified vendors and software is managed by the Microsoft Azure. Using azure stack you can extend the azure technology anywhere, from the datacenter to edge locations and remote offices. Enabling you to build, deploy, and run hybrid and edge computing apps consistently across your IT ecosystem, with flexibility for diverse workloads.

How Powerup approaches Hybrid cloud for its customers 

Powerup is one of the few companies in the world to have achieved the status of a launch partner with AWS outposts with the experience in working on over 200+projects across various verticals and having top-tier certified expertise in all the 3 major cloud providers in the market. We can bring an agile, secure, and seamless hybrid experience across the table. Outposts is a fully managed services hence it eliminates the hassle of managing an on-prem data center so that the enterprises can concentrate more on optimizing their infrastructure

Reference Material

Practical Guide to Hybrid Cloud Computing

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