IT professionals are dealing with a lot of cloud pressure these days. Your organization wants you to make the IT infrastructure more agile and “cloud like,” but without increasing your budget. Public cloud solutions provide scalable, on-demand resources that are cost effective. However, you have concerns around security, policy management and time commitment.
A hybrid cloud model, where you can augment your data center resources and policies with cloud resources, is being discussed as an attractive alternative. At Skytap, our enterprise and ISV customers who are considering hybrid clouds ask us a few important questions that should be considered by all under similar circumstances:
· What application workloads are best suited for the hybrid cloud model?
· What are the key requirements to deliver a hybrid cloud successfully?
· Most importantly, when is a hybrid cloud less than ideal?
We would like to share our perspectives on these key questions with the CloudConnect audience.
Ideal application workloads for hybrid clouds
CIOs and IT directors who we engage with describe their application workloads in terms of predictable workloads managed by IT, and dynamic workloads requested by users.
Predictable workloads such as ERP systems, mail systems, collaboration portals and contract management systems are typically well planned and managed by IT.
On the other hand, users typically create ad-hoc or dynamic workload requests such as environments for development and test, IT sandbox or POC projects. For example:
· A developer may want to create parallel dev/test environments with access to corporate apps and databases.
· An IT operations engineer may want to test clustering and fail-over scenarios between two locations.
These users require self-service capabilities that enable them to manage their own set-ups, teardowns, parallel work streams and remote team collaboration.
By carefully architecting a hybrid cloud solution, IT organizations can move these workloads to the cloud while maintaining full visibility and control.
Key requirements for successful hybrid cloud deployments
Our experience shows that there are five must-have requirements for a successful hybrid cloud deployment:
1. Self-Service User Interface – To cover the broad range of functional users in an enterprise, you need a self-service solution where users are empowered to manage their own environments. At the same time, IT owners need self-service admin tools to implement approved templates, security policies, VPN access, and budget control measures.
2. Secure Cloud Architecture – A hybrid solution must include various security measures including data center security, physical security, access security, virtual data center security, compute (virtual machine) security, network security, storage security and operations security. The data transport between the cloud and your data center must be secured with an IPsec VPN connection.
3. Configurable Role-Based User Access Control (UAC) – Enabling granular user access control (UAC) is a key requirement for enterprise adoption of hybrid cloud based solutions. Most cloud providers only offer a limited set of user access controls. Make sure the solution you evaluate offers a rich UAC model to set fine-grain permissions.
4. Cloud Policies, Quotas and Chargebacks – The ability to enforce enterprise IT policies with cost controls and chargeback billing to internal groups are key requirements for most IT organizations. Make sure the solution offers auto-suspend capabilities when resources are not in use to save costs.
5. Snapshots and Collaboration – Capability to snapshot an entire virtual data center is important to encapsulate enterprise applications and enable IT environments to be replicated accurately and quickly. In a hybrid cloud, the VPN connections and security policies that the applications use must also persist across snapshots. Snapshots are useful to save a ‘golden image’ for rapid deployment at a later date.
What workloads are not ideal for the hybrid cloud model?
Although a hybrid cloud model delivers user agility, cost savings and IT productivity, it is not a panacea for all applications and IT requirements. Here are some practical questions to assess the fit.
· Is your application architected to be efficient in terms of network traffic?
· Can your application run on virtualized environments?
· Do your users understand the nature of data and the applications they are authorized to use in the cloud?
· Does your application require access to graphic accelerators, audio and video controls?
· Does your application require access to specialized hardware or equipment?
While not all of these questions are showstoppers, it is important to ask and assess the fit so that you can be assured of success.
By paying close attention to key application, data, security and user requirements IT organizations can deploy a hybrid cloud solution and get the best of both worlds: scalable, cost effective cloud resources that are secure, configurable and policy compliant.