Everyone seems to have a slightly different interpretation of the hybrid cloud definition. It’s a term that comes up in daily conversation. I deal with cloud deployments and transitions here at Blue Chip for a multitude of companies, so here is my interpretation.
The meaning of ‘hybrid cloud’
Hybrid, a word originating in the 16th century, generally refers to the offspring of plants or animals of different species. In IT terms, it’s a single orchestrated environment, formed from multiple different varieties of compute, storage and services.
What does that actually mean for you? Well, it’s the collective use of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud services and public clouds – like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. Orchestrating these environments to work together seamlessly, gives you a hybrid cloud environment.
Simply put, it’s a mixture of private and public cloud. Yet there are a few different types and it’s important to recognise that hybrid clouds are not all the same.
The environments which can exist in hybrid clouds
Let’s go through a breakdown of what you can expect when it comes to the hybrid cloud.
On-premises private cloud
This is an area that could cause confusion. You can have a private cloud environment hosted on-premise. If the cloud infrastructure is for your enterprise only, regardless of whether it is managed by in-house teams or by a third party, or off or on-premises, it’s a private cloud.
Third party hosted private cloud
Like the above example, this is a private environment controlled by you. The difference? With a third party hosted private cloud, you are utilising someone else’s data centre. This is still dedicated infrastructure. Often you can also utilise the provider or another third party to manage the infrastructure or platform for you.
Benefits of private cloud
With a private cloud environment, you retain much of the control around technology deployed and its customisation. This can help with flexibility and adaptability often demanded by business requirements which change over time and may also assist with lowering the total cost of ownership through lower operational expenditure. Utilising third party cloud can also help with running platforms and infrastructure that your business lacks the skill set to run or will soon be looking to replace or move to a different technology, providing the skills and a flexible exit from the current infrastructure/platform. A third party cloud removes the need to invest in technology upfront freeing up capital expenditure and moving to an operational expenditure model.
As only you access this private cloud environment, it’s well suited for storing data which is sensitive or if you’re in a regulated industry.
Disadvantages of private cloud
If it is your cloud, you have great power, but also great responsibility. Additional periphery costs such as security, hardware and software support must be taken into account. Also, unless you purchase your infrastructure through a financing method, the initial cost will likely be huge and you will need to continue paying for the purchased infrastructure.
Public cloud services
Utilising public cloud services is realistically renting a portion of the service provider’s shared service data centre infrastructure. Since public clouds are so large, they achieve huge economies of scale and can scale at will automatically – this gives your business a huge commercial advantage and an impressive efficiency boost. This is usually self-provisioned and managed by the end users.
Benefits of public cloud services
As above, nearly unlimited scalability gives you great efficiencies in that you only pay for what you use. In addition to this you also don’t need to buy your own infrastructure. Public cloud is truly a great place for highly changeable workloads, whether that’s scaling up or down. You retain control over the environment from deployment to the day to day running.
Disadvantages of public cloud services
While only paying for what you use sounds like a dream, (a consumption-based cost model) – it also makes it incredibly hard to budget for. Some workloads that remain steady throughout the year, or are ‘always on’, potentially aren’t good value for money in a public cloud. Also, beware of hidden charges for things like data ingress and egress when connecting applications across multiple environments, geographies and providers.
Another challenge is data residency. In the world of compliance we live in today, public cloud means it’s much harder to control your data and to ensure it is operating in the correct region – geographically or under other restrictions.
Self-provisioning, whilst it gives you control, is open to mistakes and ‘bill shock’! Mistakes can end up costing the business. For example, if someone forgets to switch off servers, the costs will continue until the next bill or the new application that shares data with another application outside the environment building up data charges. These can add up to hundreds of thousands.
If it’s incorrectly built it can affect the availability of the environment and at the worst, have security vulnerabilities.
Finally, if there is a problem at the public cloud provider’s availability zone/data centre, you may find it hard if not impossible to contact someone to update you on the situation and support you with the outage.
Most public clouds cater for the common operating systems and application scenarios like Windows and Linux running SAP, as an example. They do not tend to support the difficult platforms like VMS, IBM OS/400, AIX or z/OS, often with no IBM Power infrastructure or skills to speak of.
Simply, this is hardware that you have purchased and deployed on your premises.
Benefits of on-premises hardware
Some applications may need to be physically close to a task, to reduce latency. Having your hardware situated on your premises will enable this. On-premises hardware may also be crucial for some companies who have extremely high compliance requirements, and it means you can physically touch, feel, and see those happy green lights – although arguably that last one isn’t really a benefit.
Disadvantages of on-premises hardware
Unless outsourced or working with a third party, housing your hardware on-premises means you will need an IT task force at hand to operate and maintain it. Any integration requirements, software licenses, hardware support and system management – it’s all up to you. You also will end up paying more for other operational aspects, like power and cooling.
Typical scenarios of hybrid clouds
‘Cloud Smart’ > ‘Cloud First’
As we know, different workloads and end users, have different requirements. Some require scalability while some require low latency and speed. Playing to the strength of each environment is crucial and exactly why hybrid clouds are becoming the new normal. Processes like web hosting, that are likely to periodically ‘burst’, may be best placed in a public cloud.
Stable yet critical production workloads may see the most benefit from being in a private cloud environment. Whereas a company’s edge infrastructure, requiring lighting fast connection and low latency, will of course be best suited to on-premises infrastructure.
If you’re looking to implement a hybrid cloud environment, try placing workloads into appropriate categories. What are the business and end-user requirements of each one? The answer will tell you where it should go!
Why we excel at hybrid cloud deployment
Blue Chip offer a ‘best of all worlds’ option.
From our fully owned private cloud environment (with zero supply chain risk), Blue Chip Cloud gives you the scalability and flexibility of a public cloud, yet it’s built with security and environmental sustainability at the forefront of mind. This is totally agnostic to technology type and version, ensuring you have maximum opportunity to exploit the benefits of a private cloud environment.
We then have connectivity into all of the major public cloud providers, allowing you to deploy the correct workloads in the correct place, with seamless automation and orchestration between public cloud and the Blue Chip Cloud. You get to consolidate everything under our roof while benefitting from the advantages of each different environment.
Lastly, it goes with the territory that as the UK’s largest pure-play data centre support provider, while also deploying, managing and decommissioning hardware within the Blue Chip Cloud offering, you can benefit from a unique perspective when it comes to procuring, establishing and running your on-premises hardware. We’re not JUST a reseller, we have a full lifecycle view.