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Easing the Complexity of Hybrid Cloud

By Paul Woodward, Blog Contributor
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Moving to a Cloud-First Network

In the modern data center, you will often find multiple platforms running workloads. On-premises virtualized hosts, container services, and public cloud all work together to provide a solid backbone for the business’s applications. These platforms provide the IT team the ability to be agile, scalable, and result in uptime like never before. But the major drawback is complex management of these platforms. However, it does not need to be that way.

First off, how are we defining a hybrid cloud environment? It's a term that seems to have a few different meanings depending on the marketing department behind them. For this article, the best definition comes to us from NIST:

Hybrid cloud is "cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities, but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds)."

Hybrid cloud can be private data center to private data center, but more and more the world is going to a private-to-public cloud model. And as the public cloud has proven to be a powerful tool to propel businesses into success, IT administrators cannot look past its utilization. So why take on the complexity of running hybrid cloud? Scalability, application reliability, cost management—the reasons add up quickly. The paradox begins when the rubber hits the road.

Proper planning of any type of cloud, private or hybrid, is critical to a successful deployment. When architecting a hybrid deployment, each public cloud provider needs to be analyzed against the anticipated workloads. How are these workloads deployed in each cloud? What are the costs of running the workloads in each cloud? Cost analysis cannot be stressed enough as it can make or break a public cloud deployment. How easy is it to move the workload from your on-prem infrastructure to the cloud? How easy is it to move the workload from the cloud back to the on-premises data center? After proper analysis, many of these questions can be addressed with the proper tool.

Public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), require a different skillset and tools compared to virtualized data centers. This is not a deal-breaker. Administrators can learn how to maintain a public cloud, and new tools can be deployed that encompass both environments.

Eight Questions to Ask

Here are some thoughts that need to be put into the implementation of these tools.

  • Which clouds does the tool integrate with?
    • Does the intended end state call for one or two public clouds?
  • How does the tool integrate with identity and access management?
    • Locking down cloud access is a must
  • How secure is the tool?
    • As you add more software to the environment, you can increase the attack planes.
  • What type of automated remediation does the tool offer?
    • Will it automatically fix issues discovered or flag for manual changes?
  • If it’s a reporting tool, how in-depth is the reporting?
    • Cost, usage, and security are some common reporting metrics that should be looked at
  • Can the reporting integrate with existing ticketing and reporting systems?
  • If it's an automation platform, what actions can it perform?
    • Can it spin up and down infrastructure?
    • Can it harden the security posture of the infrastructure?
    • How does it handle access control?
  • Is the administrator looking for a one-size-fits-all solution, or many tools performing specific tasks?

When beginning a hybrid cloud project, the challenges can look like an insurmountable mountain. Breaking things off into pieces, proper planning, and the utilization of tools can take that mountain down to a molehill.