Introduction

Did you know that 90% of all enterprise organisations are expected to adopt multiple cloud services and solutions by the year 2020, however only 5% of all IT budgets globally are directed to public cloud resources?

The cloud has taken businesses by storm, with some industries being quicker on the uptake of a cloud solution than others.

Some of the main factors currently leading enterprise corporations to cloud migration are:

  • The ability to cut costs 40-50% in IT spend for data centre services by adopting public cloud  hardware and resources over dedicated on-premise solutions.
  • The need to modernise legacy software applications and databases using containers  and microservices to take advantage of public
    cloud platform features.
  • Requirements to support custom software development teams across thousands of microservices in simultaneous runtime while
    bringing new service products to market.
  • Increase in the usage of Agile project management methodologies, DevOps, CI/CD, remote code repositories like GitHub, and
    version control in software development.
  • The implementation of web server deployments that are increasingly automated and scripted using elastic platforms like AWS EC2,
    VMware, and Kubernetes alongside popular DevOps  tools like Jenkins, Ansible, Puppet, Chef, Docker, and Vagrant.

A hybrid cloud solution is one of the more versatile and scalable solutions a business can adopt when facing the factors above - but what is hybrid cloud, how could it help your business, and what product is going to be the best for your needs?

01. What is a hybrid cloud

What is a hybrid cloud?

A hybrid cloud is the combination of both private and public cloud platform services in complex data centre resource orchestration where the hardware, database, and software applications required for business operations are shared between architecture from multiple service providers in production at scale.

Many businesses, NGOs, and other groups have internal requirements for information security, database and software functionality that requires private servers within an in-house data centre to maintain.

The combination of private cloud hardware and network administration with public cloud platform resources and third-party Software as a Service (SaaS) products is the definitive characteristic of hybrid cloud orchestration.

What is cloud infrastructure?

Cloud infrastructure is the back-end hardware and software needed to support a cloud computing model, including servers, LAN equipment, storage, network, and virtualisation software.

It also includes an abstraction layer that virtualises resources and presents them to users through application program and graphical interfaces. These virtual resources are hosted by a cloud service provider and include servers, memory, firewalls, network switches, load balancers, and storage.

Cloud infrastructure usually involves high density systems with shared power in order to deliver the massive capacity required by large cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

01. Hybrid cloud solutions

Hybrid cloud solutions

The different formats of cloud computing models include:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is where virtualised computing resources are hosted and delivered by a third-party provider through the internet. This means that if an organisation chooses not to host the sort of items that are traditionally present in an on-premises data centre, such as servers, a virtualisation layer, networking hardware and storage, they can use an IaaS provider for these services.

Reference: An example of an IaaS offering would be the storage and computing services provided by Microsoft Azure.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is where software and hardware tools (often needed for application development) are hosted and delivered by a third-party provider to users through the internet. This means that if an organisation wishes to use a certain hardware or software tool but does not wish to install it on their in-house equipment, they can still develop or run a new application by using a PaaS provider.

Reference: An example of a PaaS application would be Google’s App Engine.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service (SaaS) is where applications are hosted and delivered by a third-party provider to users through the internet as both a software distribution model and a cloud computing model. This means that if an organisation wishes to use an application, the third-party provider gives them network-based access to a single copy, from which any updates or changes made by the provider are rolled out to all users.
Users have the option of choosing where their data is stored, be that in the cloud, locally at their premises, or in both as part of a hybrid cloud solution.

Reference: An example of a SaaS service would be the cloud-based CRM solution Salesforce for businesses.

Why choose a hybrid cloud solution?

There are many reasons why a business should consider a hybrid cloud solution when researching a cloud computing solution.

Hybrid cloud computing allows businesses to do the following:

  • Complex organisations are able to unify security policies across digital assets online and to coordinate different development teams for brand websites independently.
  • Organisations with thousands of employees across departments can routinely support SaaS/PaaS products from hundreds of third-party development companies in productivity, manufacturing, and publishing in the process of daily workflows.
  • It provides organisations with the flexibility to deploy the best-in-class hardware, software, and services according to your business needs.
  • It can give organisations the ability to drive greater growth and scalability of their services without necessarily requiring additional on-premise equipment or expensive infrastructure.

These are just a few of the general reasons why a business might choose hybrid cloud computing – the exact applications for your business and how it can work best for you will depend on your organisation.

However, while each business’ use of the cloud will differ, Gartner reports that over 90% of enterprise organisations expect to deploy hybrid cloud architecture in IT departments by the year 2020, and more than $1.3trillion in IT spending will be affected by the shift to the cloud by 2022. This shows the versatility of the hybrid cloud model.

A few interesting stats and facts

01.

The quarterly SaaS spending in Q2, 2018, was $20billion.

02.

It is predicted that 83% of all enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. The breakdown of this by cloud computing model is:

  • 41% will be run on public cloud platforms
  • 20% will be private-cloud-based
  • 22% will rely on hybrid cloud adoption.

03.

Right Scale’s annual State of the Cloud Report 2019 has reported:

  • 91% of businesses currently use the public cloud. However, just 22% use the public cloud exclusively.
  • 72% currently use a private cloud, but only 3% use the private cloud exclusively.
  • 69% of businesses are opting for a hybrid cloud solution.

04.

Cloud adoption trends suggest there’s an advantage to using both public and private cloud solutions as this gives more flexibility and variety of options.

05.

According to Forbes, the split between hybrid cloud services is roughly:

  • 48% to SaaS
  • 30% to IaaS
  • 21% to PaaS.

06.

A survey of IT leaders by Datometry showed some of the reasons why enterprises were choosing to adopt the cloud. Here are a few:

  • Cost-cutting topped the list of reasons at 61%
  • The desire for new features and capabilities was second with 57%
  • Current warehouses filling up with equipment and infrastructure for on-premise solutions was the
    reason 30% were moving to the cloud

03. What is a public cloud?

What is a public cloud?

A public cloud is fully operated as part of a hyper-scale data centre on remote hardware, often using SaaS/PaaS tools provided by an IT major to increase efficiency of software publishing or business support operations. Public cloud architecture is defined by multi-tenant environments, zero-trust policies towards vendors, and "pay as you go" pricing.

Public cloud hosting companies like Microsoft (Azure), Google (Google Cloud Platform [GCP]), Amazon (Amazon Web Services [AWS]), IBM (IBM Cloud), and Oracle (Oracle Cloud) operate at hyper-scale with the world’s most innovative and advanced data centres. In addition to providing commodity web server hardware for data centre outsourcing and web/mobile application hosting, these companies also offer a variety of platform services to customers.

Examples of platform services are hosted database products, web server stack software, programming utilities, storage archives, and machine learning TPU platforms.

For example, Google Drive is a perfect example of a public cloud storage service used by hundreds of thousands of businesses and individuals across the globe, allowing for real-time shared working and improved resource storage.

Diagram of a basic cloud model:

Public cloud - costs and services

A public cloud is the most popular type of cloud service because of the relatively low cost and the ability to scale hardware modularly according to web traffic or user demand. Public cloud hardware is used by businesses of all sizes to address peaks in workflow demand, develop/test software, to be a real-time accessible storage service, or to access remote applications and platform services to perform IT communications for daily operations.

Many businesses choose public cloud hosts because of the ability to create a custom web server stack that can be automated in production for software support. Others adopt public cloud services because they provide enhanced functionality, optimised performance, or platform-exclusive tools for software development that are cutting-edge. “Pay as you go” billing means that you are only charged for the resources consumed, including reserved instances.

Public Cloud: Common Use Case Scenarios

Many businesses currently use Microsoft Azure virtual machines (VMs) to improve their business security. Virtual machines are isolated environments running in parallel on multi-tenant servers with shared kernel support at the hypervisor level. VMs have a number of valuable uses, from testing/development to running old software to orchestrating a multi-cloud data centre. VMs can be used to test suspicious files while keeping the rest of your system safe.

Healthcare groups run virtual machines in order to successfully operate medical records management software in a public cloud environment, ensuring greater protection to data privacy. Google App Engine is a perfect example of cloud adoption targeted to businesses who need to create a web-based app, but don’t want to create a full infrastructure on their own servers to do so. AWS EC2 is a popular option for websites that need to scale elastically.

Public Cloud: Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

Public cloud solutions can also offer businesses a greater level of power and functionality through applications that allow for Machine Learning, AI, etc within their respective marketplaces. For example, when running machine learning stack through Microsoft Azure.

Other common use case scenarios for public cloud services include running the machine learning stack on Microsoft Azure. For example:

  • Public Cloud Hardware: Enterprise corporations increasingly seek to outsource their internal data centre operations to public cloud hardware for cost savings in the support of web/mobile applications at scale or to deploy IoT products with edge servers.
  • Software Development Tools: The main advantage of database-as-a-service products (DBaaS) and programming language support through SaaS/PaaS tools in deploying custom software in support of operations or clients on public cloud hardware.
  • GPU & TPU Servers: Public cloud hosts also offer GPU & TPU hardware that runs Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) applications for manufacturing, mass media publishing, ecommerce, and other industrial requirements.
  • Machine Learning: A hybrid cloud architecture allows enterprise businesses to integrate AI/ML functionality into their daily workflow or on-site facilities while making use of cloud platform services such as pre-trained algorithms, translation apps, or image recognition.
  • Programming Teams: Custom software coded for industrial manufacturing, scientific research, financial services, publishing, etc. can integrate the latest features from AI/ML running on Azure Stack with project management in Visual Studio on Windows.

The Azure Marketplace allows enterprise businesses to implement powerful new AI/ML functionality into their software service applications through ecosystem utility products that can be deployed quickly to production. The Azure Marketplace also includes thousands of web server utilities, data centre management tools, database, security, and development products.

Hybrid cloud vs 100% public cloud

A public cloud is one where services are delivered via the internet. The service may be free or adopted via a subscription plan that is based on the resources consumed. The cloud service provider develops, manages, and maintains the resources of their customers, which are shared between multiple tenants on the same hardware units or in the same data centre facilities. The main advantage of public clouds is that they deliver a huge variety of highly scalable services at relatively low cost.

The main limitations of public cloud are their security risk for sensitive data and lack of control, which many organisations require for compliance. These concerns are largely addressed in a hybrid cloud environment due to its ability to share resources between public and private cloud deployments according to the organisation’s security, performance, scalability, cost, and efficiency requirements. Most complex business organisations find it difficult to manage a 100% public cloud deployment due to the readiness of their core applications/legacy applications built on on-premise infrastructure.

04. What is a Public Cloud?

What is a private cloud?

A private cloud is cloud used by a single organisation, where the hardware resources are built and maintained on-premises or operated by an offsite vendor in a data centre facility or co-location venue. It may support both public software services and/or internal business operations.

Private cloud architecture is isolated, single-tenant, and delivered through a secure private network. Private cloud is often used to manage the business and security needs of an organisation, because it offers greater control over the infrastructure and can be used for compliance-sensitive workloads without compromising on information privacy.

It is most often used by highly regulated industries and government agencies, technology companies with copyright interests, and large organisations requiring efficient, cost-effective operation of advanced data centre technologies.

Private Cloud: Common Use Case Scenarios

A private cloud can offer public-facing software services through web servers, the support for internal business services, or a combination of both.

A private cloud is functionally equivalent to an in-house data centre composed of a network of private servers, switches, routers, hubs, and endpoint devices. Businesses may use private cloud hardware to support a corporate LAN (Local Area Network) or use virtualisation and SDN to build a Software-Defined Data Centre (SDDC).

Popular private cloud orchestration software choices for enterprise companies are Microsoft solutions, VMware, OpenStack, CloudStack, Mesosphere, HP, Mirantis, and Nutanix. Linux development companies like Red Hat, SUSE, and Ubuntu offer Kubernetes-based container virtualisation solutions for complete data centre management. Private cloud facilities are often tasked with maintaining legacy equipment, databases, and software applications in production while being modernised or replaced.

Hybrid cloud vs private cloud

With a private cloud, computing resources are reserved for the exclusive use of one organisation, which is hosted online by a third-party service provider. Private clouds are often used by government agencies, financial institutions, and SMEs with business-critical operations who need to have enhanced control over their environment. Hybrid clouds are environments where private clouds and public clouds can be combined, allowing organisations to enjoy the benefits of each.

Public clouds are often used for high volume, low security needs and private clouds for sensitive, business-critical operations. A hybrid cloud also creates an environment where resources and workloads can be handled seamlessly across multiple vendor resources with Microservices.

Hybrid cloud vs on-premise data centre

An on-premise data centre is a group of servers that are located on an organisation’s physical real estate and are privately owned. Private data centres are tightly controlled and maintained by the parent organisation. The main advantage of an on-prem cloud solution is heightened security and control over sensitive data which is particularly important for maintaining compliance standards.

A hybrid cloud solution can offer similar levels of security by allowing you to keep sensitive data separate in a private cloud, while taking advantage of the productivity and cost-saving benefits of a public cloud.

05. When to choose each type of cloud solution

When to choose each type of cloud solution

When considering which option to cloud computing solution to choose, there are a few things to consider. For example:

BENEFITS :

  • Are the benefits of moving to the cloud clear for your business, and the number of benefits high?
  • Or are the number of benefits for moving to the cloud low, and the overall benefits to your business uncertain?

RISKS:

  • Are the risks of moving to the cloud high and unmanageable for your business?
  • Or are the risks low and manageable?

The graph below outlines how these risk/benefit scenarios can apply to the different types of cloud, and a business’ ability to manage them.

Strategy: Private Cloud (High & Clear / High & Unmanageable)

Scenario: If as an organisation you belong in an industry that is heavily regulated, such as Nimble in the short term loan financial space, then you will likely require a private cloud computing solution to ensure you adhere to compliance regulations around privacy of the customer’s financial data.

Azure for Financial Services includes APRA-compliant financial service support software for Australian banks, insurance companies, and private equity groups that automates auditing requirements for Prudential Standard CPS 231 Outsourcing compliance. Enterprise businesses work through a financial services checklist to attain compliance with APRA Prudential Standard CPS 234 on Information Security and other industry requirements.

Strategy: public Cloud (High & Clear / Low & Unmanageable)

Scenario: If as an organisation you require shared online office applications to be rolled out across the company with members from multiple locations able to access items, such as a set of documents that need to be managed in real-time with multiple revisers, then a public cloud solution will be sufficient. Other businesses that would suit this model include new businesses who are not hampered by legacy systems and thus can approach their system as ‘cloud-first’, and those who are open to being innovative with their cloud service.

Hybrid cloud architecture based on software-defined networking (SDN) allows administrators to extend corporate firewall protection and filters to cloud resources. This includes support for SaaS/PaaS products under encryption through VPN connections. Hybrid cloud networking extends the availability of local resources through the use of cloud products, while enabling these services to be deployed or used in production with corporate security standards.

STRATEGY: Avoid (Low & Uncertain / High & Unmanageable)

Scenario: If as an organisation you are unsure as to whether you require a cloud computing solution, and there are no clear benefits for your organisation, then it is not recommended that you don’t make the move to the cloud until you have determined what those benefits are. For example, if you are the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), there is a high level of risk when making the transition to a hybrid cloud solution – just one perception might be that the public cloud aspect of a hybrid cloud model could be construed as too great a liability for the sensitive information held by the RBA. In addition, the benefits of moving to a hybrid cloud solution could by some be disseminated to solely a cost-saving exercise, and so the perceived risk would be too high for the potential benefit. In terms of the RBA this is a broad case scenario only, as there are many nuances involved in the level of risk and potential benefit for such an organisation –and indeed for any organisation of this size, whether private or public –, however for a governmental institution the issue is not only the actual risk, but also the perceived risk by the public.

When preparing an internal audit of a company’s IT resources, it is recommended to plan for the operations of your company three to four years in the future. In this manner, it is more evident how to schedule legacy software applications and databases for modernisation through containers and cloud platforms, or to replace legacy hardware upgrades with cloud data center resources in product cycle management, while retaining current budgetary expenditure levels.

Strategy: Private Cloud (High & Clear / High & Unmanageable)

Scenario: If as an organisation you have high on-site premise maintenance costs and are thinking to make the move to the cloud, but aren't sure which cloud service best suits your business- needs both now and in the foreseeable future, it's worth experimenting to try out which solution would best suit your business. Industries that have been disrupted and are playing catch up may try to jump here to defend market position and remain relevant.

It’s also important for businesses to keep in mind that you don’t need to choose a single environment when making the move to cloud computing – you can use a combination of environments to achieve the best results based on the various workloads and requirements you manage. The hybrid cloud approach allows you to choose the best service providers for every department, brand, and vertical, integrating IT resources in a unified corporate security policy.

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06. What to consider when choosing a hybrid cloud solution

What to consider when choosing a hybrid cloud solution

A hybrid cloud allows CIOs, IT managers, IT administrators, etc to build on the advantages of both public and private data centre environments while architecting unique solutions for multiple business requirements. Some issues to consider when choosing a hybrid cloud solution are:

  • Multi-Cloud Architecture: Does your enterprise business organisation operate hybrid cloud orchestration with multi-cloud functionality where more than one public cloud service provider is utilised?
  • Data Privacy: Does your business keep sensitive internal information from clients, partners, employees, and manufacturing facilities on private cloud hardware while still utilising the innovative new platform services from public cloud hosting companies in production operations remotely in a hyper-scale facility?
  • Network Security: Does your business need to build a unified corporate security policy with firewalls, content filters, VPN, anti-virus, & storage encryption applied across remote cloud hardware resources?

Hybrid cloud networking can also include firewall integration and VPN support for employee connections to third-party websites in order to access SaaS and PaaS applications for productivity. Businesses and other complex organisations typically adopt virtualisation in data centre operations in order to build hybrid cloud architecture across vendor hardware resources more quickly, securely, and cost-efficiently.

Virtualisation allows network administrators to make better use of hardware allocations on web servers and to automate data centre processes to scale elastically with web traffic requirements in production. Hypervisor virtualisation using VMs (virtual machines) and container virtualisation with Docker/Kubernetes are the two leading solutions to hybrid cloud orchestration for enterprise data centres. AWS’s EC2, EKS, S3, and DBaaS (Database-as-a-Service) platforms compete with Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and VMware products as the most popular public cloud service providers for hybrid cloud integration.

Benefits of hybrid cloud solutions

One of the key benefits of a hybrid cloud is the agility it offers to enterprise corporations in bringing new software products to market. Being able to adapt and change direction quickly is a key requirement in a modern digital business environment. Hybrid cloud’s ability to combine public clouds, private clouds, and on-premise resources gives complex business organisations the agility needed for a competitive advantage.

Building a hybrid cloud offers an organisation a big range of potential benefits including:

Flexibility - The ability to distribute workloads across public and private environments based on security, efficiency, and cost.

Scalability- The ability to outsource workflow peaks to public cloud environments and to scale resources up and down as the business demands change.

Reliability - Less likelihood of downtime because services are distributed across multiple public and private data centres.

Security - By outsourcing non-sensitive workloads to public cloud, sensitive workloads can be run on dedicated resources in private clouds.

Affordability - Outsourcing to public cloud eliminates the need to purchase and maintain additional resources to handle short term spikes in demand.

Continuity - Business continuity is not interrupted during a failure or disaster, as data is still accessible with little or no downtime.

Opportunity - Barriers to innovation are reduced because new concepts can be tested and prototyped without great expense in a cloud environment, then rapidly deployed and measured for success.

Accessibility - The cloud offers the advantage of anywhere, anytime access (important with an increasingly mobile workforce).

Hybrid cloud architecture can help retail sellers manage peak web traffic for ecommerce websites and mobile applications through elastic web servers and DBaaS products. It can also increase data privacy protections for ecommerce companies or ensure compliance with local auditing and regulatory requirements for regional businesses.

Hybrid cloud supports innovation in the software development lifecycle across enterprise companies, startups, non-profits, educational institutions, healthcare groups, and government organizations.

Successful real world examples for when a hybrid cloud solution could be beneficial include:

Affordable disaster recovery and business continuity - Using a hybrid cloud setup where on-premise data fails over to a public cloud in an emergency.

Cost-effective archiving - Cheaply putting at-rest data in a hybrid cloud for long periods of time for future analysis or to satisfy compliance requirements.

Application development - Using public clouds to speed up the development process and then moving applications back to the on-premises data centre for production deployment.

Cloud bursting - Running applications in a private cloud until a predetermined demand level for resources is reached, then causing them to fail over to a public cloud service..

Separating workloads - using a public cloud for dynamic and non-sensitive workloads and leaving less volatile or more sensitive workloads on a private cloud.

Big Data processing - using a public cloud for the majority of big data analysis and leaving sensitive big data on a private cloud.

Moving to the cloud - adding workloads to a public cloud gradually while expanding the remote presence as needed on public and private clouds or a mixture of both.

Dealing with temporary demand - allocating public cloud resources for short term projects at a lower cost than possible with your own private data centre.

Being prepared for the future - having the resources to be able to match your data management needs with the most appropriate public, private or on-premise resources.

Speed to market - implementing best practices for Agile project management and DevOps in the software development lifecycle with CI/CD, version control, and automated testing for software code.

Cost transparency and control - utilising public cloud “pay as you go” billing with reserved instances and competitive bidding for spot pricing on hardware resources.

Security and regulation, data sovereignty - ensuring business compliance with ISO 9000/14000 regulations, HIPAA for healthcare groups, APRA for financial institutions, GDPR for data privacy and cookie usage, or other required auditing standards.

Data security - The hybrid cloud model also allows you to keep data secure on local servers for internal business requirements while adopting the latest web development, cloud hosting, and programming tools for software applications.

Public for scale - guarantees uptime of software services by offloading web traffic in peak operations to public cloud hardware using containers or VM orchestration.

Innovation - integrate API calls across the service mesh or over the internet to build new functionality and features for web/mobile apps like AI/ML and serverless support.

Software-defined networking (SDN) - build multi-cloud architecture across public cloud vendor hardware with containers, Kubernetes, and VMs for SDDC outsourcing.

Challenges of hybrid cloud computing

While there are many opportunities associated with building a hybrid cloud, there may also be challenges an organisation will need to overcome, including;

Security

Security is definitely a benefit of hybrid cloud when compared to a public cloud solution. In particular, if the private cloud is delivered by a Managed Service Provider (MSP) like Harbour IT, then data may move out of customer data centre and into our data centre/private cloud securely.

Preparation

It’s important to remember that with a hybrid solution you may need to take some precautionary steps to ensure maximum data security is applied to your data in the public cloud.

Compatibility

Care must be taken in the choice of public cloud services and their API integration capabilities, or they may not perform optimally with on-premise infrastructure.

Scalability

A careful eye must be kept on environment automation to avoid overshooting scalability limits of data that is required to be kept in the private cloud due to compliance and security reasons.

Offloading

Because the public cloud scalability is hyper-scale, there are more areas open to public cloud offloading and less likelihood that you will run into scalability issues.

Compliance

Depending on what type of business or industry you are in, compliance regulations may prevent you from using a public cloud or storing data offsite.

Integration

Depending on the type of data and applications you currently have, there may be integration problems to overcome when transferring to a hybrid cloud environment.

Networking

You may also need to upgrade your network bandwidth to prevent highly active applications in the cloud from bottlenecking other applications.

Choosing a Managed Service Provider (MSP)

Complex business organisations that adopt hybrid cloud architecture or multi-cloud solutions without an MSP to manage the migration will likely encounter problems with:

Understanding

Without sufficient education, some organisations may struggle to understand the nature of cloud computing and how to exploit its full potential.

Training

A different skill set is required with hybrid cloud technology, which may be in short supply until appropriate training can produce more qualified candidates.

Expertise

If an organisation does not have the necessary skills in-house, they will have to hire outside experts to build their hybrid cloud, which can be expensive.

Hardware

If the private cloud is to be on-premise, rather than operated by an offsite provider, then all necessary hardware will need to be purchased, programmed, and maintained. This is a potentially expensive exercise.

Optimisation of costs

The continuous improvement of the hybrid cloud set up to ensure costs are managed and performance is optimised may be harder for an organisation without an MSP.

Support

The ability to ensure that you’re resourcing the management of the operations correctly, including monitoring, SLA’s (for lines of business), DR, BU (managed by the MSP) etc may be reduced.

Complexity

MSP’s should have a Cloud Management Platform featuring a suite of integrated software tools they can offer to businesses, which could assist with resource management, service management, and more.

For this reason, working with a managed service provider such as Harbour IT could greatly improve the efficacy and management of your hybrid cloud solution.

07. What are examples of a hybrid cloud solution?

What are examples of a hybrid cloud solution?

Most enterprise corporations have a long history of managing IT operations both internally and externally through an in-house data centre. On-premise data centre facilities are used to run databases and software for clients, customer relations, and staff. As hardware becomes outdated, web standards change and software platforms require updating, business organisations often choose to migrate to public cloud platforms for modernisation. Hybrid cloud networking permits enterprise companies to maintain their legacy operations in an on-premise data centre while gradually migrating to new products and services on a public cloud host.

One common method of a hybrid cloud implementation is cloud bursting. With this method, an enterprise organisation uses a local private cloud until it requires more resources, storage, or processing than is available on the network. At this point, it “bursts” onto the public cloud, temporarily leasing resources to continue its work in support of website, SaaS, or mobile application. Once this work is completed, proprietary data and code is moved back onto the private cloud.

Whether or not cloud bursting could work for your business will depend on the nature of the information that would then be hosted on the public cloud, as the security will differ from that of your local private cloud. For example, if you are a business with access to sensitive financial data such as an individual’s personal identity information and financial account details, you should ensure only non-sensitive resources are moved to a public cloud and that the sensitive data remains hosted securely on your local private cloud to remain compliant with the relevant legislation and/or internal policies you would have in place to protect the data.

What are the most common use cases for a hybrid cloud?

The most common use cases for hybrid cloud are support for full data centre outsourcing, productivity software, manufacturing processes, IoT devices, websites, and mobile applications. Many businesses are forced to adopt hybrid cloud architecture solutions in order to maintain in-house support for local computer operations in a private cloud, while making use of other SaaS/PaaS products from public cloud and third-party software vendors in their workflow. Multi-CAD and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) enable more companies to migrate traditionally local computing processes to cloud hardware for various business cost advantages.

Another example of hybrid cloud orchestration is containerising legacy software applications from mainframes or locally running database processes on in-house servers in tandem with remote hosted code on public cloud hardware for modernisation. Many businesses choose Microsoft Azure for hybrid cloud orchestration in order to implement network integration with the Windows operating system installed across all hardware resources. Other companies may choose VMware software tools for hybrid cloud networking requirements to implement solutions using virtualisation that will support multiple operating systems in production.

Common examples of industries that can greatly benefit from implementing a hybrid cloud solution include:

Healthcare

The healthcare sector is increasingly adopting hybrid cloud solutions due to their flexibility and ability to move applications seamlessly between private or public clouds.

Hybrid clouds also provide the increased security the industry needs to protect sensitive patient data and meet regulatory compliance. Hybrid cloud use is expected to grow as attacks on network systems increase and compliance regulations become more stringent.

One of the major benefits of hybrid cloud use in healthcare is the ability to fully digitise healthcare delivery, encompassing everything from automation to telehealth and remote monitoring, and the sharing capabilities of required data with other healthcare providers/organisations, such as Medicare.

healthcare organisations need to address a variety of critical IT needs, including a need for increased security, protection of sensitive patient data and meeting regulatory compliance. Over 28% of healthcare respondents named security and compliance as their number one decision criterion in choosing where to run workloads.

With hackers targeting medical records containing sought-after personal details such as patient healthcare and insurance information, healthcare organisations require technology solutions that can handle the movement of sensitive data compliantly, and without security risk.

Source: Gov Tech Review

Finance

The financial services industry is increasingly leveraging hybrid clouds due to their flexibility, power, scale, and seamless connectivity.

Hybrid cloud solutions offer financial services companies significant benefits including the ability to extend existing infrastructure without a huge cost for capacity and still retain certain data on-premises, as required by regulatory guidelines. Hybrid clouds also let them take advantage of new cloud services such as the rapidly growing enterprise container platforms without having to rewrite applications, allowing them to continue cost-effectively producing new financial products and services to meet every growing consumer demand.

Container solutions are used in banking and finance to support online applications with millions of simultaneous users for increased isolation, such as by a neobank.

Another example of how a banking giant has used the cloud to revolutionise their operations is the migration to Microsoft Dynamics 365 (hosted in Microsoft Azure) made by Westpac New Zealand. They did this in a bid to streamline and automate their sales and business processes.

According to Downs and Quinn, Westpac employees used to spend up to 80 percent of their time on data entry and managing systems, but with Dynamics 365, they can now spend that time building relationships with customers. “The ability to sync customer data in real time has changed what our relationship managers can achieve,” says Downs. “From our front-line customer service staff to the back office, we’re using Dynamics 365 to change the way we operate.”

Source

Government

Government agencies around the world are slowly coming to embrace cloud-based services. Some now use cloud email and collaboration tools and a mixture of public and private cloud infrastructure, but highly classified systems are likely to remain on-premise for the foreseeable future.

Apart from security concerns, the biggest obstacle to faster government migration to a hybrid cloud infrastructure are the internal cultural barriers that must be overcome and the huge number of legacy systems that need to be adapted or replaced.

This has in turn resulted in the creation of The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA).

The DTA has mandated the move to the cloud for certain services by Australian government entities. Their goal is to facilitate the move to online for the betterment of government processes, which in turn will positively impact the Australian community.

An example of this is:

In June 2019 it was announced that Amazon Web Services have signed a whole-of-government deal to help simplify cloud procurement for federal, state and territory agencies in Australia.

According to AWS, the primary benefits come from cost-savings by leveraging demand across government agencies, and removing some of the barriers of adopting and expanding cloud use in the public sector.

Source

As another example, IBM’s cloud services are used extensively for government services worldwide, with HPE and Oracle Cloud services supporting many ministry-level regulatory departments for industry as contract suppliers.

Education

The global cloud computing market in education is growing rapidly, with institutions keen to enhance their productivity and improve the learning experience. The cloud is changing education by eliminating the need for expensive textbooks, doing away with on-premise hardware and eliminating paper, thus reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. Cloud education also offers easy accessibility, greater mobility, and more opportunities for collaboration, creating a better overall environment for students and educators.

Hybrid cloud architecture can be configured using software-defined networking (SDN) standards and virtualisation in order to maximise the efficiency of hardware utilisation in large-scale education and campus network administration.

Container-based virtualisation using Docker and Kubernetes can support millions of simultaneous web server runtimes for cloud SaaS applications in hyper-scale data centres used in high-performance computing (HPC) research.

Kubernetes can be installed on public cloud hardware or private cloud data centres in a vendor-agnostic fashion for elastic web server architecture on open source licensing.

Service Mesh solutions are implemented by many colleges & universities for complex hybrid cloud orchestration requirements, integrating Microsoft Azure, OpenStack, VMware, and Kubernetes products for academic requirements.

A recent example of hybrid cloud uptake in Australia is the NSW Department of Education, which is currently adding public cloud accessibility to its private cloud usage to maximise the scalability, reliability, and cost-efficiency of its application testing. Deakin University has taken to revolutionise their online learning structure through a custom cloud computing system. By developing and integrating multiple cloud tools, educational institutions like Deakin can connect students to all their most important apps and have them available at any endpoint. Their platforms are shown in the diagram below:

Cloud learning system dashboard T1 2014

Source

According to Deakin University Senior Project Manager Martin Brandwyk, the benefits they expected this integration of tools to bring were:

  • Research collaboration improvement, mostly achieved through Lync and SharePoint that represent secure sharing and collaboration spaces.
  • A consistent set of tools for all students and researchers regardless of their actual, physical location.
  • Enhanced student experience that enables everyone to work efficiently from anywhere.
  • Innovative use of technologies among both students and academics.

Retail

Many retailers need to support hundreds of brands and domain names where each may be managed by a separate development team on different code and infrastructure fundamentals. Hybrid cloud architecture improves enterprise support for microservices to enable development teams and programmers to build on separate public cloud resources under a unified IT management department. For example, CRM software can be run in the cloud or on private servers on-premises to support customer orders, shipping, and logistics in retail supply operations.

Hybrid cloud architecture implements best practices in virtualisation and Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) solutions, while corporate internet traffic maintains unified firewall security settings across data connections. Many enterprise organisations implement VPN encryption on version control, database backups, and other network transfer communications. Data centre orchestration across multiple international facilities is used to enable High-Availability (HA) requirements.

The use of multiple international data centres from public cloud hosting companies has the advantage of positioning web servers in closer geo-proximity to major retail markets for better connection speeds. Multiple data centres are also required for “Five Nine” (99.999%) uptime support in ecommerce operations.

"More than many industries, retailers are acutely aware of how IT strategy and execution directly impact the customer experience and the bottom line. The high adoption and planned growth of hybrid cloud in retail show that retailers understand that hybrid is the best solution for keeping up with customer demands while keeping flexibility, security and costs in line.

I expect the retail industry to keep its lead in IT innovation as they form new strategies to delight their customers in the retail experience."

Chris Kozup,

Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at Nutanix

Source

As a live example, Chumbak – a fast-growing and leading retailer of lifestyle products in India – used a hybrid cloud solution to assist them with building beyond the 40 stores they operated across the country and move more into the online commerce realm. With a need for quick integration across all platforms, a reduction in IT-generated costs and to reduce operational inefficiencies, the choice of a hybrid cloud solution to host and run its enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, a cloud computing solution was the answer.

eCommerce

Enterprise brands and popular online marketplaces need to support complex eCommerce operations with thousands or millions of simultaneous, logged in users at a time. This type of web traffic places enormous burdens on web server hardware in database support or when generating customised, dynamic content for web pages. Elastic cloud web server platforms are designed to scale with user traffic automatically, booting up virtual machines or new containers during times of peak traffic, and automatically degrading resources during downtimes. CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) are primarily used in ecommerce for anonymous browsing support, however do not provide all of the functions of a cloud computing solution.

Public cloud hosting companies also offer many Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) products like Amazon Aurora, DynamoDB, or Microsoft’s Cosmos DB that are designed for the unique needs of large ecommerce websites. Aurora allows businesses to run MySQL or PostgreSQL databases for web/mobile applications in synchronisation with the AWS EC2 platform. DynamoDB is a NoSQL solution that allows businesses to build upon the same ecommerce tools used by Amazon.com to support their customers during peak-time traffic such as holiday season shopping. Cosmos DB is a NoSQL solution that competes with MongoDB and Cassandra for use with customised ecommerce applications at the highest scale.

“Zero trust” policies implemented at public cloud facilities ensure the use of encryption on data connections across web applications, storage facilities, and backups in ecommerce operations.

For example, in 2016 eCommerce retail giant ASOS made the decision as a business to migrate to a microservices architecture powered by Microsoft Azure.

ASOS now uses Azure Cosmos DB across the company, such as for product machine learning models to generate real-time recommendations (the ‘you may also like’ model) and as a low-latency data store for tasks such as storing and retrieving precalculated user profiles (‘you previously bought and this is like that’ model). It also uses Microsoft Azure SQL Database to store relational customer data.

"We chose Azure Cosmos DB because of its global distribution and ability to handle heavy seasonal bursts like Black Friday. We can distribute our data models to be near the microservices they're serving-wherever that is in the world."

Bob Strudwick,

Chief Technology Officer at ASOS

Machine Learning (ML)

Retail websites use product recommendation engines based upon consumer browsing habits, likes, and previous purchases to display dynamic content on websites that is customised to every user. Enterprise companies increasingly adopt Machine Learning (ML) solutions to generate content and product recommendations to users. Public cloud hosts like Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google all offer cutting-edge machine learning platforms that can be integrated into ecommerce websites through hybrid cloud methodologies.

Many businesses prefer Microsoft Azure machine learning resources because of the ease of building functionality into existing Windows environments. AWS offers the Sagemaker service to speed up the use of the most common algorithms in product recommendations, text translation, or image recognition via Jupyter notebooks. The company also offers GPU servers for running AI/ML apps in the cloud. Google has designed their own TPU chips for TensorFlow applications utilising machine learning and deep learning that can be integrated into hybrid cloud constructs for web/mobile app support or industrial manufacturing requirements.

A great example, which is also linked to our previous example of ASOS making the move to Microsoft Azure for microservices, also showcases how this move assisted them with their machine learning challenges.

In order to create a ‘brand recommender’ (creating brand recommendations using datasets of ASOS’ 19.2 million customers, drawing on gigabytes of data each day and then publishing to Azure Cosmos DB for global scalability), ASOS and Microsoft paired up for a 4-week ‘hackathon’ that resulted in an agnostic platform using Azure’s Machine Learning to tie it all together.

The ASOS teams wanted tools that would help them do more than just accelerate the modelling process. They envisioned a new, enterprise-wide ethos-breaking down barriers for teams and developing best practices for dealing with data science and modelling.

"We believed that with Azure Machine Learning service, we could encourage the two practices that we thought would help us speed up modelling," says Khedarun. "By unifying our tech stack and bringing our engineers in Big Data and online software together with data scientists, we got our development time down from months to just a few weeks."

You can read the full breakdown of the use case here.

08. Hybrid Cloud Security

Hybrid Cloud Security

Hybrid cloud security is based on “zero trust” policies across public cloud hosting company infrastructure where encryption is the key aspect of remote data security.

Data in the cloud is stored in an encoded form that can only be deciphered with an encryption key, and the security of that data depends on how securely the key is stored. Most cloud service providers keep the key themselves, which is only accessible when the enterprise logs in with a password. The problem with this is that an enterprise is then entirely at the mercy of the public cloud provider’s security systems and practices. If they are less than ideal, the key may be stolen or misused without the enterprise organisation’s knowledge.

Because of this, many businesses keep certain data and applications on private servers in-house where their own security policies can be maintained within a hybrid cloud network, ensuring they have full control to access of the encryption key and can implement stringent security measures as required for the level of sensitivity of the data.

The specifics of the security used for protecting an encryption key within a hybrid cloud network will largely depend on your organisation, the sensitivity of the data being hosted on your servers, and also any legislation/regulations you need to remain compliant with. As such, it’s recommended that you enlist the assistance of an expert when setting up your hybrid cloud security measures to ensure your encryption key is held securely.

In fact, most of the security threats surrounding hybrid cloud are not the result of the system itself, but of those who build and manage it. Security issues may include:

  • Lack of encryption
  • Inadequate compliance
  • Improper risk assessment
  • Weak security management
  • Unprotected APIs
  • Poor data redundancy
  • Lack of communication with cloud providers
  • Badly constructed cross-platform tools
  • Data leakage
  • Disgruntled or malicious employees

Each of these can lead to vulnerabilities in your cloud security that can then be targeted by hackers.

The solution to these problems largely involves better governance and compliance, where workloads are tracked, rules are applied, and networking components are displayed on one centralised console with easy to read security alerts for administrators.

In addition, the maintenance and ongoing improvement to your cloud’s security policies as new threats are developed is essential. The skill level of hackers and malicious software will continue to grow as the security programs designed to protect hybrid clouds grow, so this cannot be a ‘set and forget’ task.

09. Hybrid Cloud Architecture

Hybrid Cloud Architecture

The three main elements required to establish a hybrid cloud architecture are:

  • A public cloud service provided by a vendor such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), or Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
  • A private cloud, either on premise or via an offsite provider.
  • A wide area network (WAN) to provide connectivity between the two.

The private cloud must also be made compatible with the public cloud, which is likely to have a different hardware and software infrastructure depending on the provider. Cross-platform compatibility must be enforced across hardware devices such as web servers, cloud/local storage, LAN equipment, and network load balancers.

Virtual Machines (VMs) running on hypervisors share drivers across partitions at the operating system level to make network nodes vendor agnostic on bare metal hardware across public cloud service providers. A disk image containing the entire web server stack can be automatically installed in each VM to build the service mesh across web servers that is required to support enterprise business operations.

Why use Hybrid Cloud Architecture?

Enterprise businesses are migrating to public cloud service products because they are cheaper and easier to maintain over time when compared to the costs of an on-premise data centre. Public cloud hosting companies operate on hyper-scale and secure the cheapest commodity rates on rack server hardware available from suppliers. In addition, public cloud hosts usually employ 24/7/365 computer security experts for platform maintenance.

By outsourcing hardware, security, and maintenance tasks from an in-house data centre to a public cloud host, enterprise companies can reduce their IT operating expenses 40% to 50% on average over time. Cost savings come from better hardware resource allocation, improved management of overcapacity, and the need to retain less trained staff on-premises for network administration.

However, if security and control over your cloud is required by an organisation, then a hybrid cloud architecture can provide a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario that would allow for scalability and reduced operating expenses without sacrificing your data security.

Hybrid Cloud: Storage Architecture

Storage considerations when deploying a hybrid cloud can include:

Interfaces - Are the APIs available from the cloud provider interoperable and compatible with your own?

Security - Does the provider have adequate security measures while data is stored and when it is being transferred between storage and on-premise locations?

Reliability - If your cloud provider indexes your data, do they have measures in place to ensure its integrity during transfer and also in storage?

Business Continuity - Are appropriate service level agreements (SLAs) in place and does your provider uses snapshots, mirroring, backups, and rapid recovery to minimise possible downtime?

Reporting - Does your provider have transparent billing showing transactional charges and storage costs so you know what your bill will be at the end of the billing cycle?

Management - Do you know how service levels are monitored and managed in a hybrid cloud environment, so that you can manage both public and private environments?

Latency - Does your cloud storage provider match or exceed your network speeds and are you likely to experience any problems due to latency (delays when processing data)?

10. The Most Advanced Hybrid Cloud Solution: Azure Stack

The Most Advanced Hybrid Cloud Solution: Azure Stack

What is Azure Stack?

Azure Stack is an extension of Microsoft’s Azure Cloud designed to facilitate the building and running of hybrid applications across data centre boundaries. It gives you the power and flexibility of public cloud services, but under customisable control within your own data centre. Azure Stack creates an environment in a cloud where virtual machines (VM’s) can operate. It aggregates, classifies, and groups an organisation’s resources and allocates them each as much capacity as needed. Azure Stack also allows you to import VMs into the environment and run them with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) plans.

Microsoft’s Azure Stack stands apart from other VM environments in that it is a hyper-converged platform which brings Azure Cloud into an organisation’s on-premise data centre. Because the underlying infrastructures are identical, there are no integration or compatibility issues. You can quickly, easily, and securely scale up or down by automatically distributing hardware through VM resources as needed. With Azure Stack, you only pay for those node instances that you use. The same infrastructure also reduces many of the problems that can occur when migrating applications from a private data centre to the Azure public cloud

Azure Stack vs Azure

Azure is Microsoft's public cloud computing platform which provides a range of cloud services, including those for computing, analytics, storage, and networking. Azure Stack gives you the benefits of full hybrid integration without the need for the masking and overlays found in other VM environments. Azure Stack improves the ability to manage your public and private cloud resources from a single management interface.

Azure Stack: On-premise

While it can be hugely expensive to build and run your own on-premise data centre, Azure Stack on-premise lets you have your own autonomous cloud, totally or partially disconnected from the internet and run by you, or with the help of a service provider. For data centres that also require support for open source products, Azure Stack integrates with Docker, Kubernetes, and OpenStack APIs for cross-platform automation.

Azure Stack as a Service (ASaaS)

For those who rely on the Azure public cloud, a hybrid environment can be configured by deploying Microsoft Azure Stack in the enterprise data centre. In doing so, they combine the benefits of the public cloud (e.g. speed to market, IT flexibility, integration with next-gen technologies) with the benefits of the private data centre (e.g.control over infrastructure, governance, physical access).

Azure Stack comprises Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), allowing you to simplify and automate software development and deployments, seamlessly, across your data centre and the Azure public cloud. This makes it easy to migrate, manage, and share data across workloads in the Azure public cloud and in your premises.

Businesses leverage Azure Stack for a variety of workloads. Among the most common use cases are:

Split workloads - With Application Programming Interfaces and microservices connecting applets from multiple sources, it’s less common for a workload to be self-contained. For workloads split between the public cloud and the on-premises data centre, the most common use case (cited by 54% of IT decision-makers) is for a public cloud app that accesses a premises-based proprietary database.

Intelligent edge - Internet of Things and other edge-based use cases may require local collection and processing of data, with results transmitted to the Azure cloud for analysis and storage.

Data subject to sovereignty/compliance regulations - With 54 global regions in 140 countries, Azure lays claim to the most extensive cloud centre infrastructure of any cloud provider. Yet, there may be cases when your own business takes place in regions without an Azure centre. In those cases, you can deploy Azure Stack on-premises for seamless application delivery worldwide.

Test/Dev - With Azure Stack on-premises, your developers have the freedom to work locally on their computers. The production environment can remain on premises or move to cloud.

Latency- or performance-sensitive apps - When you deploy Azure Stack on high-performance infrastructure, it can deliver optimal throughput and processing speed for high performance compute and transactional workloads.

Azure Stack is the only highly-consistent hybrid cloud solution recommended by Harbour IT. One of the advantages of Microsoft Windows Azure Stack for hybrid cloud orchestration in enterprise data centre management and software development is high consistency of resources in any location. This enables secure multi-cloud architecture across thousands of simultaneous data centres running Microsoft Windows and Azure Stack in VMs for software application support. Integration with GitHub, Visual Studio, and other programming tools is standard.

Azure Stack: Common Use Case Scenarios

Azure Stack gives enterprise businesses the ability to run the same platform software on premises and across more than 100 international data centers in Microsoft facilities. The Windows operating system is integrated across teams using Visual Studio for custom software application development, DevOps, and version control. Virtual machines (VMs), containers, and Hyper-V can be used to support microservices, databases, and production software in complex corporate data centre orchestration.

Azure Stack has been designed to address many of the challenges facing business today, and common enterprise use cases include:

Ensuring compliance and security - Azure Stack provides easy access to services to meet industry-specific compliance, data sovereignty and security requirements.

Maximising performance - Azure Stack delivers the performance you need for large processing tasks such as analytics, without the time consuming upload to a public cloud and the potential latency issues once uploaded.

Connecting edge and disconnected applications - Azure Stack allows you to run applications that are disconnected for a period of time from the main data centre and then upload the results when re-connected.

Accelerating modern application development - Azure and Azure Stack use a common API that allows developers to develop applications using a consistent set of tools and then easily deploy them to a public or private cloud with no changes to the application.

An example of a Microsoft Azure Stack use case is Airbus, a leading company in the aerospace industry. They made the transition to Azure Stack to facilitate their agility, innovation, and competitive advantage by not just revolutionising their existing services and operations, but also to introduce new and innovative ways to create alternative services to offer the industry.

"We need to be able to store and efficiently analyse data. Our customers are particular with their requirements around data governance. This is why we chose Azure Stack as the technology deployed within our own data centres to meet our customers requirements."

Dr Peter Weckesser,

Digital Transformation Officer Airbus Defence and Space

Additional use cases can be found here.

11. Harbour IT's CloudMetro

Harbour IT's CloudMetro

CloudMetro is a custom solution for enterprise corporations and other complex organisations using a pure storage, all Flash array setup (eg Cisco) or other VMware platform tools for virtualisation. Around 45% of enterprise companies internationally currently use VMware solutions for complex data centre management at scale on hyper-converged infrastructure. CloudMetro is an IaaS service offered by Harbour IT which can be deployed as either a private cloud, multi-cloud, or hybrid cloud solution. CloudMetro features all-flash storage and proven technology from the world’s leading computing providers, including Cisco, NetApp, Pure Storage, and VMware.

Leveraging Tier 3 (the cream of the crop) Australian data centres and seamlessly complementing Cisco’s FlexPod and FlashStack reference architectures, CloudMetro offers non-stop computing, total data integrity, and rapid disaster recovery. Data is instantly and continuously replicated with no inconsistency. Aligned with key industry bodies such as APRA, our commitment to compliance and sound governance means CloudMetro is trusted by customers from key industries such as financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.

Cloudmetro key features:

  • Enterprise-grade technology
  • All-flash speed and reliability guaranteed
  • Data held in multiple datacentres
  • High redundancy at every level
  • Total data sovereignty with real time data synchronisation
  • State-of-the-art fibre technology

12. Hybrid Cloud Deployment

Hybrid Cloud Deployment

Hybrid cloud cost management

Managing costs across multiple clouds in a hybrid environment can be a big challenge, and incomplete planning can lead to unexpected costs and budget overruns. To overcome this, organisations need to have a solid hybrid cloud strategy that will provide a more accurate forecast of expenses and better visibility of cloud infrastructure once in use.

As noted by Sid Nag, Gartner Research Vice President, from data based on their recent surveys,

“As cloud continues to become mainstream within most organizations, technology product managers for cloud related service offerings will need to focus on delivering solutions that combine experience and execution with hyperscale providers’ offerings,” said Mr. Nag. “This complementary approach will drive both transformation and optimization of an organization’s infrastructure and operations.”

Sid Nag,

Gartner

They also need a new suite of user-friendly self-service tools that manage costs across all public and private cloud environments.

These management tools could include:

A cost management tool - this could assist your organisation with monitoring resource consumption, and providing the reports required for the team to accurately assess and measure cost / profitability of the cloud services you are using.

A utilisation management tool - this could assist with monitoring the resources that are being hosted on the cloud, including the cost of virtual machines and utilisation of shared resources running in the cloud. This can provide insights into capacities and efficiencies, which could simplify your cloud infrastructure management.

A cloud optimisation tool - this could assist with optimising the cost and performance of public and hybrid cloud deployments, providing insights on spending and helping the deployment of resources internally.

There are of course many providers of these types of tools to choose from, and you should opt for a tool that addresses each of the functionalities you require to best assist with your cloud management.

Breakdown of costs

While the long term savings will eventually overshadow them, there are some initial costs associated with switching to a hybrid cloud environment over and above the actual build. These can include:

Customisation - There may be costs associated with customising on-premise applications being migrated to public clouds so they will work in the hybrid environment. Configuration work and testing may need to be done. If the application is not compatible, it may need to be rewritten.

Management - Once installed, multiple environments will need to be managed including on-premise and public clouds. If current IT staff do not have the required skills, they will need to undergo training in the management and maintenance of the hybrid cloud environment.

Compliance - If an organisation is subject to compliance obligations, the cloud service(s) being used may need to be audited to ensure they meet the appropriate requirements. This would be an added expense in addition to the organisation’s existing on-premise audits. Customers may also require official proof of compliance.

Cloud pricing models

As far as initial costs go for setting up a hybrid environment, there are a wide range of prices offered by cloud service providers which take into account factors such as CPUs, RAM, and storage as required. Enterprise organisations may be able to negotiate flexible payment terms with public cloud hosts based on their scale of operations and annual budget.

Some typical pricing models being offered in today’s market include:

Free trial - Most providers offer free, limited access to cloud resources to try out PaaS environments without any up-front financial commitment.

Low cost trial - Developers may be offered more resources and longer use periods than no cost trials to test experimental applications, often because of their organisation’s larger overall relationship with the provider.

Pay as you go - A cost effective strategy requiring no up-front investment which involves no-commitment billing for the use of cloud computing services. “Pay as you go” means that you only pay for the resources you specifically consume.

Reservation - A commitment for a specific period for a given workload or service at a much cheaper rate than pay as you go, but where you are billed for 24/7 use whether you utilise it or not.

Dedicated host - A subscription to a dedicated server as a web host for a predetermined period or perpetually as a reserved resource.

Capacity boost - An on-demand capacity boosting agreement where more VMs are made available if required.

Excess capacity return - An agreement allowing the release of unused reserved capacity either for a guaranteed return value or by selling to another customer.

Batch computing - Access to spare capacity at a significantly reduced price, for off-hours non-urgent computing needs.

BYO licence - The option to re-use an existing licence or migrate a licence from on-premise to a cloud to acquire computing resources at a lower cost.

MSP pricing - You will most likely have a predictable monthly management fee, which could cover various elements of the above.

13. Hybrid Cloud for your Business

Hybrid Cloud for your Business

Knowing the advantages, main challenges, and the likely costs of switching to a hybrid cloud environment, business owners must then ask – is this the right next step for your organisation?

Is hybrid cloud the right fit for your business?

The answer to this question will depend on how competent your organisation is in managing and implementing cloud infrastructure and how much support you are likely to require.

If you want more flexibility to be able to react quickly to changing demands, needs, and costs, then hybrid cloud architecture could be the right choice for your business. The cloud can provide you with IT resources whenever you need them at short notice and for much less than the cost of developing them through in-house teams. Businesses that could benefit more than most from this flexibility might include those that experience large spikes in demand, such as taxation-related businesses or those where seasonal peaks and troughs are experienced.

In addition, the public cloud gives you the flexibility to deal with both anticipated and unanticipated loads, where the alternative would be expensive fixed cost investments in on-premise resources that might be under-utilised for most of the year. Organisations involved in data storage might also benefit more than most from hybrid cloud use, as data that is non-sensitive and infrequently accessed. Archival data can be moved to a public cloud storage facility where it is secure, but it is much less expensive to store these files on-premises.

However, there are circumstances where a hybrid cloud approach might not be the best fit for a business. Smaller organisations with less operating capital may not be able to justify the cost of setting up and running the servers required for a private cloud. Many SMEs are better suited to a purely public cloud solution, lacking the scale requirements of enterprise data centres.

14. Finding the right hybrid cloud provider

Finding the right hybrid cloud provider

One of the biggest considerations for hybrid cloud is choosing the right service provider. They will be an important partner in your hybrid cloud solution, so you should vet them thoroughly beforehand to determine their suitability.

Other points to consider are:

Strategy - What has their cloud strategy been? What is it going to be? What are their plans for the next three to five years?

Historical investments - What historical investments have they made to keep their technology ahead of the curve?

Remember, it is just as important to choose the right cloud service provider for your business as it is choosing the right cloud solution. Hybrid cloud solutions are designed to be vendor-agnostic. This allows enterprise organisations to avoid vendor lock-in and secure better pricing on public cloud services. This also increases the portability of “Big Data” and applications. Deploying to the cheapest commodity hardware is a key element of optimising cost savings on public cloud platforms through competitive bidding on elastic resources.

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15. Harbour IT has You covered

Harbour IT has You covered

At Harbour IT, we offer you total flexibility and can help you design the perfect combination of public and private cloud services for your organisation’s needs.

Partner with us and you’ll enjoy secure access to your own private cloud infrastructure on our CloudMetro platform or our Azure Stack as a Service, while also having access to popular public cloud services such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services (AWS).Harbour IT offers total end-to-end support, including building your hybrid cloud solution, migrating your data, applications, and services. We provide ongoing support and management services to keep your hybrid cloud environment fully optimised.

To find out more, visit our Hybrid Cloud Solutions page here.

16. Glossary

Glossary

The different elements of the cloud and how each interact with cloud computing:

Hardware - Hardware in relation to cloud computing refers to everything from cooling equipment to ensure the servers do not overheat, to the servers themselves which can manage the storage, processing and applications.

Database - A cloud database is a collection of informational content, either structured or unstructured, that resides on a private, public or hybrid cloud computing infrastructure platform. Essentially, a cloud database is no different from a database that operates on a business's own on-premises servers – it’s just located in a different place.
Source

Software applications - Software is a set of instructions, data or programs used to operate computers and execute specific tasks. Opposite of hardware, which describes the physical aspects of a computer, software is a generic term used to refer to applications, scripts and programs that run on a device. Software can be thought of as the variable part of a computer and hardware the invariable part.
Source

Hypervisor - A hypervisor is a process that separates a computer’s operating system and applications from the underlying physical hardware. Usually done as software although embedded hypervisors can be created for things like mobile devices.
The hypervisor drives the concept of virtualisation by allowing the physical host machine to operate multiple virtual machines as guests to help maximise the effective use of computing resources such as memory, network bandwidth and CPU cycles.
Source

Connectivity - Connectivity in cloud computing is the act of connecting a cloud computing model with an organisation.

Virtualisation - Virtualisation is the "creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as a server, a desktop, a storage device, an operating system or network resources".
In other words, virtualisation is a technique, which allows to share a single physical instance of a resource or an application among multiple customers and organizations. It does by assigning a logical name to a physical storage and providing a pointer to that physical resource when demanded.
Source

Service Mesh - A service mesh is a dedicated infrastructure layer that controls service-to-service communication over a network. It provides a method in which separate parts of an application can communicate with each other. Service meshes appear commonly in concert with cloud-based applications, containers and microservices.
Source

Kubernetes - Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open-source platform for managing containerized workloads and services, that facilitates both declarative configuration and automation. It has a large, rapidly growing ecosystem. Kubernetes services, support, and tools are widely available.
Source

SDN - Software-defined networking (SDN) is an architecture that aims to make networks agile and flexible. The goal of SDN is to improve network control by enabling enterprises and service providers to respond quickly to changing business requirements.
Source

SDDC - An SDDC (software-defined data center) is a data storage facility in which all infrastructure elements -- networking, storage, CPU and security -- are virtualized and delivered as a service.
Source

SD-WAN - SD-WAN is an acronym for software-defined networking in a wide area network (WAN). SD-WAN simplifies the management and operation of a WAN by decoupling (separating) the networking hardware from its control mechanism. This concept is similar to how software-defined networking implements virtualization technology to improve data center management and operation.
Source

CDNs - CDN is short for content delivery network. A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers (network) that deliver pages and other web content to a user, based on the geographic locations of the user, the origin of the webpage and the content delivery server.
Source

Cloud architecture - Cloud computing architecture refers to the components and subcomponents required for cloud computing. These components typically consist of a front end platform, back end platforms, a cloud based delivery, and a network. Combined, these components make up cloud computing architecture.
Source

Multi-tenant cloud - A multi-tenant cloud is a cloud computing architecture that allows customers to share computing resources in a public or private cloud. Each tenant's data is isolated and remains invisible to other tenants.
Source

Hyperscale computing - Hyperscale computing refers to the facilities and provisioning required in distributed computing environments to efficiently scale from a few servers to thousands of servers. Hyperscale computing is usually used in environments such as big data and cloud computing.
Source

Single-tenant cloud - A single instance of the software and supporting infrastructure serve a single customer. With single tenancy, each customer has his or her own independent database and instance of the software. Essentially, there is no sharing happening with this option.
Source

Orchestration - Cloud orchestration is the use of programming techniques [change to techniques] to manage the interconnections and interactions among workloads on public and private cloud infrastructure. It connects automated tasks into a cohesive workflow to accomplish a goal, with permissions oversight and policy enforcement.
Source

Data centre - A data centre is a facility that centralises an organisation’s IT operations and equipment, as well as where it stores, manages, and disseminates its data. Data centres house a network’s most critical systems and are vital to the continuity of daily operations. Consequently, the security and reliability of data centres and their information is a top priority for organisations.
Source

Amazon Cloud Services

AWS - Amazon Web Services

EC2 - Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud

EKS - Amazon Managed Kubernetes Service

S3 - Amazon Simple Storage Service

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Harbour IT
enquiries@harbourit.com.au
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Sydney , New South Wales , 2000 Australia
1300 785 926
Information Technology (IT), Cloud Computing, Managed IT Services, IT Infrastructure Solutions, Disaster Recovery, Professional IT Services, IT Security, Cloud Computing Security, IT Help Desk, IT Service Support Desk, Communications, Procurement, Systems Integration, Managed Print Services
Harbour IT
enquiries@harbourit.com.au
Ground Floor, West Tower, 410 Ann Street
Brisbane , Queensland , 4000 Australia
1300 785 926
Information Technology (IT), Cloud Computing, Managed IT Services, IT Infrastructure Solutions, Disaster Recovery, Professional IT Services, IT Security, Cloud Computing Security, IT Help Desk, IT Service Support Desk, Communications, Procurement, Systems Integration, Managed Print Services
Harbour IT
enquiries@harbourit.com.au
Suite 207, Norwest Central, 10 Century Circuit
Baulkham Hills , Queensland , 2153 Australia
1300 785 926
Information Technology (IT), Cloud Computing, Managed IT Services, IT Infrastructure Solutions, Disaster Recovery, Professional IT Services, IT Security, Cloud Computing Security, IT Help Desk, IT Service Support Desk, Communications, Procurement, Systems Integration, Managed Print Services