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Hybrid cloud deployment - considerations

This article was originally published on Technology.Info.
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Following on from our introduction to

Building the Hybrid Cloud

, before identifying use cases for hybrid cloud deployment, IT teams need to take security, connectivity and portability into account.

It’s now almost a year since Microsoft executive Marco Limena, vice president of the software giant’s hosting service providers business, declared that 2013 and 2014 would be the “era of the hybrid cloud”.

And in March this year, the company unveiled a survey of over 2,000 IT decision-makers worldwide that seems to validate his claim. According to the


, conducted on Microsoft’s behalf by IT analyst firm, the 451 Group, 49% of respondents said that they had already implemented a hybrid cloud deployment.

Of these, 60 percent had integrated an on-premise private cloud with a hosted private cloud. Forty-two percent, meanwhile, had combined an on-premise private cloud with a public cloud, and 40 percent had combined a hosted private cloud with public cloud resources.

According to Limena, “hosted private cloud is a gateway to hybrid cloud environments for many customers.” The study shows, he added, that “it’s clear we’ve reached a tipping point where most companies have moved beyond the discovery phase and are now moving forward with cloud deployments.”

So what do organisationsneed to bear in mind when considering a hybrid cloud deployment? According to IT experts, executing a successful hybrid cloud deployment is all about identifying the specific workloads that might benefit the most from deployment in the hybrid cloud. But first, there are three considerations to be taken into account when considering a hybrid cloud deployment.

The first is security: IT organisations should ensure that the security extended to a workload running in a private cloud can be replicated in the public cloud.

The second is connectivity: data flowing between private and public cloud resources should be kept confidential. A typical hybrid cloud deployment would achieve this using a VPN [virtual private network] connection or dedicated WAN link.

The third is portability - and in the absence of truly mature standards in hybrid cloud computing, this may prove the toughest nut to crack. It’s about ensuring technological compatibility between private and public cloud environments. In other words, organisations must be able to ‘lift and shift’ workloads between the two, knowing that they share the same operating systems and application programming interfaces [APIs], for example.

Current use cases for hybrid cloud deployment, meanwhile, include:

1. Development/testing workloads

Early stage applications are a great use case for hybrid cloud deployment, says Stuart Bernard, European cloud sales leader at IT services company CSC. “You may have an application development team that needs an environment it can spin up, use, consume and spin down quite quickly,” he says. “The frustration they have with traditional IT services is that, by the time they’ve requested that environment and it’s been made available to them, there’s been a considerable delay - and the one thing that application developers hate is a delay.” That, he adds, leads to ‘shadow IT’ procurement, as development teams get their credit cards out and buy the environment they need in the public cloud. But once they’re completely satisfied with the application they’ve built there, they then face the challenge of shifting it back into the private cloud, in order to give that application the governance and control in production that the organisation requires. A hybrid cloud environment makes it possible to use public cloud resources for a new, untested application, before migrating it back into a private cloud, once a steady-state workload pattern has been established.

2. Disaster recovery

Duplicating a private cloud environment in a secondary data centre comes with considerable costs, requiring at least twice the expenditure on IT equipment and data-centre space. According to Joe Baguley, EMEA chief technology officer at VMware, more companies are now turning to hybrid cloud for disaster recovery, so that if their on-premise private-cloud environment hits the skids, they can quickly migrate virtual machines from that environment to run in a geo-redundant cloud set-up delivered by a third-party provider.

3. Cloudbursting

The term ‘cloudbursting’ is increasingly used to refer to a situation where workloads are migrated to a different cloud environment to meet capacity demands. This might happen to an ecommerce shopping app in the run-up to Christmas, for example, or a charity running a high-profile campaign that gets a lot of media coverage. In a hybrid cloud environment, the steady-state application would be handled by a private-cloud environment, with spikes in processing requirement passed to on-demand resources located in the public cloud.

4. Meeting regulatory requirements

Many organisations handle data that must be kept in-house, according to legal or regulatory requirements - but parts of the application that collect and/or process that data (online forms, for example) can run in a public cloud to improve performance and scalability, while keeping costs low.
As we see in the next article, this is an issue that charity Action for Children tackled head-on in their hybrid cloud deployment.