Hybrid Cloud Architecture: What Is It and Why You Should Care?
The term “Cloud” is no stranger to most people in the IT industry, and for as long as data exists, the cloud is here to stay. Like many other services and technologies that have changed the paradigms in this volatile industry, the Cloud is evolving too. And as the evolution is dictated by the need of the industry (customers), it is happening at an astoundingly rapid pace — perhaps so fast that the latest advancements are difficult to keep up with. As such, the term “Hybrid Cloud” might seem like a foreign, new concept.
To understand the Hybrid Cloud and its architecture, one may need to recall when cloud services started taking shape. Perhaps, it was not until the launch of Amazon Web Services in 2002, that the industry sat up and took notice of the Cloud as a new contender in the domain of data storage, sharing and services. With Google joining the fray, it quickly became clear that cloud was the way to go for enterprises.
It was obvious that this service could scale seamlessly and handle dynamic loads, all while being easy on the pocket. But, of course, every new technology and service brings with it new challenges, and so did the Cloud. Outages, security and data breaches, control, reliability, and regulations, necessitated changes in the Cloud services.
Understanding the Cloud
The Cloud is a set of Servers, put together for special purposes. Typically, the two terms “Private Cloud” and “Public Cloud” were commonly associated with cloud computing. In a Private Cloud, teams and organizations owned the Cloud fully and had full access to it, so that no one else could share it. On the other hand, the Public Cloud was like any other public service, which meant that people could ‘rent’ the Cloud or part of it and related services for a designated fee. Therefore, more than one unrelated entity could rent the Cloud, and it also meant that the Cloud was off-premises. A Private Cloud, on the other hand, could be off-site or on-site, as desired by the people owning/renting it.
Eventually, enterprises felt like they wanted to have the best of both worlds. This meant that they wanted to have access to a mixed environment which gave them access to the advantages of both Private and Public Clouds. In other words, organizations needed the flexibility of being able to shift between the two types of Clouds, as and when the need arose. This would mean a mix of on-site and off-premises environments, however, enabled with necessary access control for seamless workflows. This meant having a third party that enables the access and the movement between the two Clouds. And thus, the Hybrid Cloud was born.
Requisites for a Hybrid Cloud
The components needed for a Hybrid Cloud for your enterprise are:
- Access to a Public Cloud platform like AWS, Microsoft Azure, GCP, etc.
- A Private Cloud, hosted either on or off premises as per your choice
- Provision of requisite network connectivity between the two, to function seamlessly
The point that enterprises must keep in mind while setting up their Private Cloud is that it should be compatible with the Public Cloud. This is because they have no control over the Public Cloud architecture and may not also be allowed customization or flexibility to a great extent. Depending on the needs and the business goals, the IT team of the enterprises setting up the Private Cloud may need to plan for containers or virtual machines (VM) to achieve their goals. It is while planning and setting up these components of the Private Cloud that the compatibility with the Public Cloud should be considered.
Why Hybrid Cloud?
We’ve listed numerous reasons above already, in the history of Cloud evolution. However, it is good to look at the benefits that can be derived from it, to understand this aspect better. Security is one of the major advantages of having a Hybrid Cloud, as discussions around this are what triggered its evolution.
The other key benefits and advantages are:
- Flexibility – There is a comfort in being able to move non-sensitive information out to a readily available Cloud, based on demand. This is achieved through cloud bursting, which is the temporarily use of the Public Cloud when the demand exceeds the available Private Cloud resources. Also, enterprises could test different scenarios for a while and see what suits them best, and then move fully on to the Public or the Private Cloud if need be.
- Scalability – Enterprises can easily scale up or down depending on their need, also due to cloud bursting.
- Reduced cost – With good planning and effective use of the Hybrid Cloud, enterprises can manage to save significantly on their incurred cost.
- Agility – This is a primary benefit of the Hybrid Cloud as it allows dynamic changes rather fast, as decision making can be faster based on available resources. Agility translates into competitive advantages, as agility counts for a lot.
- Reliability – Reliability comes from having distributed Servers and storage using the Public and Private Cloud and also, having greater control over the data flows, especially for sensitive data. It also allows for faster access to mission-critical resources.
While there are many enterprises that vouch for Hybrid Clouds, it is necessarily not suited for all. As mentioned above, your personal business goals could determine which type of Cloud you may want to go with. Small organizations with very low IT budgets, for example, may not want to venture into setting up a Private Cloud/Hybrid Cloud.
Speed is also another factor that could drive this decision as there could be the latency factor coming into the Hybrid Cloud. Because of the various components involved in the interaction, connectivity issues or disruptions may also happen. Ideally, this is not suited for mission-critical, always available kinds of workloads. But, the takeaway from all this, after all, is that Hybrid Cloud does provide enterprises with the best of both worlds, and the means to keep up in this highly competitive market.