We’re hearing more and more these days about hybrid clouds. Many analyst firms and bloggers have pretty much proclaimed 2014 “the year of the hybrid cloud”. Case in point: Forrester has said, “We’re seeing over 50% of enterprises prioritizing private cloud in 2013 to 2014, and there will likely be very few private clouds that don't have a public [hybrid] component.”.
This trend is not surprising. After all, organizations are gaining experience with the cloud, either by building their own private clouds, or by leveraging the various public clouds offered by companies such as Amazon or Google, or by service providers. These experiences are giving them insight into the workloads and data sets that should stay in house and which can safely reside outside their walls. Perhaps more importantly, it accentuates the need for greater visibility and control when it comes to managing data and the cloud.
Hybrid clouds are the result of IT environments that distribute assets among internal private clouds and external public clouds – employing architectures that extend the private cloud. What this means is that the best practices organizations employ with their private clouds need to be extended as well. Doing so introduces some unique challenges and concerns.
First and foremost is security. Clearly the most important issue for any cloud implementation, keeping a hybrid cloud secure means employing the techniques and technologies used with both traditional data center architectures as well as private clouds. One cannot in practice have control over all of the security practices of public clouds, one can leverage data encryption, ownership of server keys, access and change management. If implemented properly, one can also automate where data is stored among the various available cloud options using policies that reflect the security and control issues relevant to specific data sets.
Connectivity is an obvious and significant issue as well. Connecting private and public clouds means providing the appropriate level of isolation of data, access, and application interaction – both during data transit as well as at the public cloud site itself. Public clouds are typically multitenant environments, and while isolation at the landing site is literally up to the provider, connectivity on the private cloud side (either via VPN with encryption or a direct WAN link) can go a long way toward ensuring isolation and therefore security.
Finally, interest in public clouds is being driven in great part by cost considerations, so fully optimizing a cost profile can mean making data portable among clouds. Whether it makes sense to move data from a private to a public cloud based on criteria such as aging or usage levels, or responding to cost or quality of service changes for a public cloud by moving data to a different one, allowing data to flow easily among clouds is an important capability for meeting cost optimization goals.
HDS understands that customers considering hybrid clouds would be best served by working with a vendor who understands these issues, and incorporates the ability to address them from the start in a complete, fully integrated, hybrid cloud solution. HDS will have more to say on this in the very near future – so please stay tuned!