Hybrid Cloud - Yes, No or Maybe?

Here’s a question for you all - you have your own IT equipment in either a datacentre or your own premises and you need to expand your IT capabilities to service a new business requirement. Your current equipment is nearly at end of life and you don’t have the space to grow on premise – what route would you take? Buy or rent? Hybrid Cloud, Private Cloud or Public Cloud? Keep on-premise?

It’s fair to assume that even if you are a diehard on premise shop, somewhere along the way you have tinkered with cloud in some way, your CRM is in the cloud or you’ve migrated to a cloud base mail system - which means you are already working with the concept of hybrid I.T.

The decision on what hybrid model is deployed (public, private or hybrid) is dependent on business requirements such as security or regulations, flexibility, capex v opex decisions etc. Cost and scalability are also regularly selected as reasons but whether a dedicated or private cloud is considered, the costs are not generally compared like for like.

Before you dive into the hype of the perceived easy consumption of public clouds as your hybrid delivery model for your services think of the following:

Let’s break the cloud myth bubble. Public cloud isn’t magic, it runs servers and storage and network just like we all do. So we are really taking about hardware. Funny that, because if you go online and provision a public cloud service it asks about ‘compute’ = Server, ‘storage’ = disk space and ‘bandwidth’ = Network.

Ok, with this in mind let’s dig into deployments on the public clouds which we all know and love.

The number one example used in the benefit of public clouds is flexibility and scalability, ideal for start-ups, test & development projects and web / analytics work that has unplanned peaks in the workloads. Agreed these are good cases but it’s possible to split these requirements down a little further.

Start-up businesses don’t usually have a large amount of cash to throw at IT, even though it will probably become the driver to their business in the long run, so a public cloud is selected because the commitment is low.

Surprisingly, the cost won’t necessarily be lower in a public cloud rather than a private one and if you use the “on demand” variants, the monthly costs can spiral out of control because starting and stopping the instances costs money.

Public clouds do not offer feature rich components from the standard “lets entice you in package” such as physical firewalls which can have your own rules and policies to lock your server and data down making them less secure and takes time to maintain by someone who knows what they are doing. For example, your instance running in one of the well-known public clouds you won’t get IP addresses that are tied to your virtual machine, so if you stop the workload you will need to re connect you addresses with the new ones yourself.

Dev and test projects- while the above also affects development projects where the disposable public cloud seems like a utopian solution to the costs of resourcing projects, be aware that not all public clouds have a silver lining, For example, should you encounter a hardware issue, or performance problem, there is little available in the basic public cloud arsenal to help your team work out if it’s a code problem or a infrastructure one.

Admittedly there are more advanced tools that continue to come on stream to assist in these issues but they bump up the cost significantly from the original price point which swayed the decision to go down the public cloud route in the first place.

Once you have deployed some of these advanced toolsets it becomes easier to manage and maintain your public cloud environment, with all the benefits of openstack and opensource communities to help you deliver efficiencies. However, if you don’t acknowledge that many of these tools make it harder to migrate away, you may be inadvertently locking yourself in to a specific cloud vendor -  so say goodbye to your flexibility – which was one of the arguments for moving to the cloud in the first place.

Web and Analytics – Ok, here is a use case that makes sense not withstanding some provisos cited above.

Large flexible, temporary or transient pools of data that need to be dumped into an instance, have a range of computational actions exerted on them and then the amalgam of the results push out to another process or service - perfect for public clouds.

Many financial organisations now use a mix of dedicated and public cloud services to offload some of the work from already hard pressed infrastructure, perform the analytics and then pull the results into their dedicated or private clouds where the data is safe and secure.

It works, and it works well, with more and more “as a Service” companies springing up to fill the workload requirement moving to public clouds.

But be warned, the type of service you purchase will make a big difference.

If it’s the standard instance with a big block of storage branded as a AB4 or a DL7 or whatever, you’re signed up to an environment where you are happy if the service runs slow, or is down for possibly hours and there is no real support representative behind the service, your on your own and the service to your end users is also down. Check your SLA – oops there isn’t one.

Can you make it resilient and responsive – of course you can it just costs more! Another reason you thought cloud would suit your business in the first place.

That’s why in the finance world dedicated or private infrastructure still delivers the mission critical applications.

There is not one size cloud which fits all the IT needs of a business, that’s where hybrid clouds play its part. They offer an inclusive approach to the consumption of dedicated, private and public clouds IT allowing the right fit for the workload. Having a company that can offer private and public clouds is an advantage as there are all the benefits of people management and monitoring your consumption and can assist when things need to change.

Making sure that there are orchestration tools to allow the easy movement between public and private is also important for the scalability and flexibility of the hybrid environment which Vissensa has first-hand experience with.

Vissensa has also seen an increase in conversations with companies looking to move away from major Public Cloud providers, through providing a much more robust and efficient service to accommodate their requirements which they wouldn’t necessarily get from other providers.

Vissensa can offer all of the services a major cloud provider can accommodate, but with more granular controls and security processes whilst also ensuring your data remains within our UK based data centres.

One of our lead consultants at Vissensa will be writing about his experiences on orchestration in our next blog.

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