|By Ajay Budhraja||
|July 9, 2012 08:00 AM EDT||
The million dollar question has been "Can an organization move all its applications to a public cloud?". Instead of moving all applications to the public cloud, many organizations are choosing a hybrid approach where on-premise resources can be leveraged and can interact with external resources. A hybrid cloud is a combination of public, private and community clouds. Most private clouds are internal, however there can be situations where private clouds are hosted at a vendor site.
For this discussion, I am focusing on the private clouds that are hosted internal to the organization. Utilizing hybrid clouds and shared services may require redesigning systems based on a determination of what data resides internally and what data can be moved externally. Generally organizations choose to have critical and sensitive data reside internally and move non-sensitive data outside the organization. Core business applications or services can be retained internally and can interact with the non core applications or services that can reside external to the organization. One of the programs I led in the past used the public cloud to gather non sensitive information and subsequently this data was funneled internally. This information was then manipulated and rendered for applications that performed customer reporting and related business intelligence.
The dilemma to either go with a private solution or hybrid solution is not easy. Private clouds may manage network latency and storage performance better than a hybrid solution. In addition security may be easier to handle since data and data transfers are done internally. Hybrid clouds and shared services open up a slew of security concerns since the perimeter of the systems is extended beyond the organization's boundary. Hence data that is transferred from internal to external resources needs to be closely monitored and the associated risks need to be managed. A strong security framework should be set up including data encryption and regular monitoring including logging and auditing.
Leveraging the hybrid approach has many advantages. The public cloud solution can be spun up quickly, and can be a good candidate for data intake and reporting. For example, public facing applications with non sensitive data can be deployed to the public cloud and subsequently the data can be transferred internally to a private cloud. Applications can also be partitioned so that public facing components can be placed in the public cloud and these can interact with the internal database system and related components in the private cloud. Another use of the hybrid clouds is that they can support workload balancing, so if internal resources cannot handle the loads, the workloads can be transferred to the public cloud. Some vendors offer connectors that can deploy virtual machines from internal cloud management interfaces to external resources to balance the workloads. This is the magnificent manifestation of the elastic capabilities of the cloud. Hence hybrid clouds can play an important role in supporting applications that have a heavy utilization during a specific part of the year. They can extend the availability horizon of existing internal technology support capabilities for organizations.
While developing the hybrid cloud solution it is important to focus on workload planning, design or re-design at the Enterprise level to have a clear abstraction of resources based on utilization, data sensitivity, security and privacy. Interoperability between internal and external resources should be effectively designed and developed to support the solution. Hybrid cloud solutions enable organizations to move beyond the private cloud horizon and are gaining significant momentum.