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Introduction to Hybrid Architecture

There is no denying the stark reality that on-premise data centers are showing a decline and cloud infrastructure is taking over. But it is also difficult to point out where the popularity of cloud services began and where the usage of physical ones have come down, because it is all in the process of merging together. However, it is not a good idea to transfer completely to the cloud, because you still need on-premise solutions for some actions. Examples of this would be compliance, data security and delivery models.

According to a prediction by Gartner, enterprises are going to spend just about the same amount of money on traditional cloud services and cloud hosting. They believe that the future lies in the perfect amalgamation of the cloud and on-premises application deployment. This was how the concept of hybrid architecture, or hybrid infrastructure was born. You move some or part of your applications to the cloud, and retain the others.

The main reason why enterprises prefer the cloud is because they get the agility and flexibility offered, and they no longer have to hire staff and their services to maintain tailored, on-premises data centers.

The Composition of Hybrid Architecture

Hybrid Cloud Architecture

The composition of hybrid architecture is simple - it is a combination of private and public cloud services, and individual on-premises data centers in enterprises. Enterprises launch their systems on any of these systems depending on their tactical business goals, strategic requirements and what they hope to achieve from it all.

For example, Company A might want to focus on saving their costs so they move a good chunk of their business processes to the cloud. Company B might want to have a rapidly scaling workforce and a cloud-based employee management solution. This would be powered by the data stored in legacy systems. And Company C’s focus is to have their applications available to their employees so they can access them on their own devices. This is also called BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices). In all the above scenarios, the companies would want to move their systems and applications to be a hybrid environment.

Enterprises that have been around for several years will find it difficult to move all their applications to the cloud. They cannot exist in the cloud alone, nor can they exist without upgrades in the on-premise scenario. These problems can be successfully solved with the help of hybrid infrastructure. Integrating business requirements with the hybrid architecture can be made possible only if you choose the right integration solutions, since they have to work across different environments.

Integration of Hybrid Architecture into Enterprises

Several leading enterprises have already started adopting the best practices (making of a fusion of cloud services and on-premises solutions) by leveraging hybrid integration platforms. In this approach, enterprises use modern and cloud-based integration tools in combination with on-premise solutions so applications in different devices and environments can communicate seamlessly. As enterprises race to adapt themselves to a cloud-based environment and at the same time retain most of the on-premise solutions, there came into vogue something known as the “Hybrid Cloud”. This integration is critical because efficiency and security are at stake. Not to speak of the need for innovation, new business models and competitive advantage.

Another advantage of hybrid integration platforms is that you can use the emerging trends in the market, and at the same time leverage the functionality and data of legacy applications. However, the most fundamental thing to address would be connectivity across various cloud environments.

The Most Common Myths Heard

Myth One: You can seamlessly move applications from on-premises to the cloud

The main reason why companies prefer to move to the cloud is because the infrastructure at their workplace cannot provide certain features, like elasticity, security posturing, scalability and so on. The fact that the cloud vendor asks for payment of only for those services that you use is also an added advantage. A constant stream of innovation in the field of cloud technology accompanies your decision to move to the cloud.

However, if you think that you can do a seamless integration of the application architecture across all the data centers and cloud, you are in for a rude shock. This action could limit the functionality of the application when it runs on different devices.

Myth Two: Moving to hybrid makes it permanent

Everybody has his own cloud journey to write home about. For large companies with complex legacy systems, the journey will be long, and they often stay on hybrid cloud architectures for longer periods of time. Each enterprise moves to the cloud at their own comfortable pace; there is no set timeframe for it. Moving to the hybrid is thus not a permanent solution. And on the other hand, it won’t be long before companies decide to move their entire operations into the cloud.

Rather than choosing just the hybrid cloud, you could go for a multi-cloud solution as your permanent one. This helps in avoiding the vendor lock in issues, gives the opportunity to use the offers and promotions by services like Azure and AWS, keep your systems versatile, flexible and scalable, and at the end of the day, save costs.

Embracing the hybrid cloud technology is only a waypoint for the final destination - the cloud. Each organization’s plan and strategy of moving to the cloud permanently might vary, and companies that depend deeply on legacy systems will prolong their stay in the hybrid cloud for a long time, and will move rather slowly.

Choosing the hybrid cloud solution often has its share of challenges that could be management related, business-related or technical issues. There could also be issues in having good API compatibility and strong network compatibility.

This proves that the myth is indeed a myth. Moving to hybrid isn’t permanent.

Myth Three: Hybrid makes it possible for you to easily transfer all your applications to the cloud

Companies don’t generally use just one cloud solution to meet their business needs; they rely on multiple ones. This calls for a mix of infrastructure services (that of the company) and the packaged solutions that run on the cloud, and thus away from the company’s data center. Huge enterprises prefer solutions like AWS, Azure and the like, while smaller companies choose Google and the like. This is the way to easily transfer your applications to the cloud. IT executives would be able to look at the problem, try the best possible tool and solution, recognize the constraints and move forward.

There is another reason why you cannot just easily transfer all your application to the cloud - the architecture of the application might not work. You might have to tweak the application architecture a little bit so the application performance isn’t affected at all. If this is not done correctly, then it might eat into the productivity gains. This reason alone pours water into all the efforts you’ve taken to move to the cloud.

Apart from the three myths that people commonly hear, there are other concerns that confuse enterprises. Here they are:

1. Applications need to be rewritten before cloud integration

This is more suitable for complex legacy applications since they have totally different challenges when compared to small enterprise apps. They need upfront infrastructure and application assessment. If an app was written, say about, 10 years ago, then it calls for a lot of work; you will have to specifically modify and analyze them so their performance reach cloud optimization.

Some versions of your app may not just work in the cloud. Before moving the app to the cloud, just consider the different versions of the app. Start with an inventory and application assessment as a workable approach before migration. Apart from the productivity aspect of the cloud, you need to consider the licensing option too. It is an area needing careful evaluation.

2. Security of data

It is a common myth that the data isn’t secure in the cloud. This can be attributed to the primal fear of the unknown, and the fact that you don’t have much control, as it is the vendor’s responsibility to provide security. There are no grounds for this fear because cloud providers have indeed demonstrated their ability to provide security for your applications and data in the cloud. However, before hiring the cloud vendor make sure they have the technology to encrypt your data, and give you control of the encryption keys as well.

3. Data management is more complex in hybrid cloud infrastructures

In spite of the safety and security provided by the hybrid cloud, data management is not complex. The cloud is actually making it simple for the team, and the administrator can manage or move the data from one place to another.

And it even makes it easier for companies that need their hardware to be managed and maintained easily. It is important for enterprises to handle their data in flexible, real-time environment. Data is very important because it contains all the information needed to make crucial business decisions.

4. Hybrid infrastructure is costly

Some people fear that hybrid cloud is costly. While you definitely have to make some initial investments, in the end, moving to the cloud will only save you money. You can save on operational expenses like maintenance, hardware overhauls, power consumption costs and so on. In an optimal hybrid cloud architecture, you can make use of the archaic storage cloud offerings as vendors offer them at a very low cost. Another perk with hybrid cloud is that you can enjoy adaptable infrastructure.

Tips on Building Hybrid Infrastructure for Enterprises

Moving to the hybrid cloud can really transform your business, and the success of this depends greatly on the time and effort spent on designing, implementing and monitoring your data and apps.

1. Assessing the environment before moving

If you have mission critical apps or data that you cannot afford to publicize, then it would be advisable to leave them in the on-premise solutions. However, if scalability and seasonal spikes are to be addressed then you have the right environment for transition. That’s why you need to assess the environment deeply.

2. Manage runtimes across a hybrid IT environment from a single management view

For smooth transition, you can check whether it is possible to move the apps from on-premise environments without changing the code. This way, you can deploy once and consolidate the management of the different cloud platforms through a single view. Once again, it is easier when you are not dealing with mission critical apps. Document all the guidelines and policies on what should be placed in the private and public cloud.

3. Implementation in stages

The best way to get the most out of a hybrid environment would be to do it in stages. Select a few non-critical applications and small workloads to go into the cloud. You might even want to test the waters with different cloud providers and see how they are pitted against each other. And eventually, from your experience with the first stage, you can move onto the next stage and migrate additional workloads.

4. Reduce operational costs by deploying apps and APIs in Dockerized containers

While migrating to the hybrid cloud calls for some amount on investment, you can cut down on the overhead costs by running the applications in containers. This helps in rapid deployment, better security and multi-cloud options. Apps running in containers can easily be ported within different cloud environments, with the same levels of consistency and functionality. Docker works with AWS, Azure, OpenStack, Google Compute Platform, and can be use with configuration managers like Ansible, Puppet and Chef. This way, when you no longer need an app, you can just delete the container.

Conclusion

Managing hybrid cloud calls for multiple skills, and expertise and knowledge of different cloud platforms. There could be different challenges along the way, especially since you have to manage the data in the VMware platform and on-premise data centers. Adopting the microservices model is a good way to make the best of hybrid cloud.

You can do this by keeping certain features of the app in the cloud, while certain other features can be kept in a different environment. For example, if you have a high performing app that uses facial recognition, you can keep the cognitive services in Microsoft Azure, and keep the other features of the applications in a different location.

Always consider the long objectives of the company and business viability before choosing the kind of cloud scenario you need. To do this pragmatically, consider the present infrastructure status and needs, and quit worrying about the myths.

Want to integrate hybrid architecture using the cloud in your enterprise? Let us help you!

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