Hybrid Cloud: An Effective Blend of On-premise and Public Cloud Resources

By CIOReview | Friday, July 22, 2016

Cloud computing, one of the most commonly used buzzwords of today’s tech industry comes with measurable benefits such as flexibility, cost reduction, and better resource utilization. However, most of the established firms in the technology space are hesitant in transitioning from on-premise IT to cloud, due to the heavy investments made in setting up their proprietary infrastructure. Apart from the invested amount, security issues and access levels are unarguably the biggest concern for any organization that have long adapted to the on-premise mode of operation.

But, if the critical components of an enterprise technology are retained in the in-house server and the rest allocated to cloud space, there can be a constructive impact on the performance standards. For example, an organization may move an active directory to the cloud for limiting the workload of their IT department and reducing the server footprint. After all, it is wise to reap the same benefits with cheaper and more efficient methods rather than holding on to timeworn strategies.

The key determinant in identifying the right storage option for an enterprise is always data manageability. Since not all applications and processes are cloud-ready, ‘what to move and when to move’ becomes a major challenge for IT departments; the most debated topic in on-premise vs cloud discussions. Where to run the workload could easily by determined by CIOs and the technical teams of an enterprise by considering the following aspects of deployment:

•  Analyzing the current environment to plan for additional infrastructure

• Manpower requirements to run the service in-house

• Availability of backup systems when disaster strikes

The agility of cloud enhances the enterprise value by allowing quicker deployments and adjustments to processes. Therefore, an infrastructural blend of on-premise and cloud solutions would scale up for economic excellence and operational efficiency.

Mitigating the Major Challenge

Data volatility is one of the reasons why most organizations prefer the hybrid cloud setup. But while splitting the information it has to be analyzed whether the datasets have to be duplicated in both the storage locations and how to maintain coherency. This poses a tough challenge as most of the remotely carried duplication processes are bound to be slow.

If a major portion of the database is occupied with non-volatile figures such as archived data, and the remaining part is filled with slow-changing information, it is possible to initiate a multi-site database operation. Here, only the slow operations require orderliness, such as inventory availability. The other elements could be replicated with one in each cloud, or simply stored and retrieved from the in-house facility. Identifying where these elements are best stored however requires considerable planning and study.

An example for hybrid cloud setup is Big Data processing which employs private storage to retain critical information related to sales, tests, and other sensitive information but performs analytical queries in the public cloud.

Security Concerns

Performance issues are greatly solved with the shifting of private cloud (in part or full) to a well connected colocation facility. Regardless of the same, companies should also ensure they maintain the highest data security levels. Due to the weak state of encryption, having all the data encrypted both in transit and at storage is what’s preferable. This requires stepping up of existing hardware and resources, as the cost of encryption is high with respect to the performance factor. Disk-based encryption is the only exception as it is achieved at the storage endpoint, though not recommended by experts. But it is to be noted that a server side encryption is an imperative in collocated data centre environments.

Challenges in an integrated storage environment are not limited to the security aspects of the infrastructure, but it also encompasses latency issues related to real time updating of data. With locks and transfers, latencies do prevail to some extent, which can be resolved by collocating part of the private cloud into the public. Such an approach is not just safe but is also considered economical, as even the cloud prices are on rise.

Finding the Right Provider

Choosing the right service provider is an essential task in an organizations journey to the hybrid cloud space. It is not necessary that the colocation provider specializes only in cloud services as an experience in handling on-premise systems is an add-on. A thorough knowledge of both public and private cloud will prove beneficial in extracting the best out of legacy systems. Extending the life of existing infrastructure plays a major role in system integrations and it maximizes the return on investments. Therefore the choice of service provider lays the cornerstone in establishing a hybrid cloud environment.