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Piecing together the hybrid cloud management puzzle

Managing the hybrid cloud means covering all of your bases from having a solid cloud management strategy to security. Having a plan helps to ensure high performance from the best of both cloud worlds.

Hybrid cloud gives users the ability to reap the benefits of public cloud -- including elasticity, on-demand resources and a pay-as-you-go model -- while still maintaining control over critical applications through private cloud. You could say hybrid clouds are little bit country and a little bit rock n' roll. However, that doesn't mean that hybrid cloud management is a walk in the park.

Yes, a hybrid cloud allows users to cash in on the low costs and scalability of public cloud, as well as limit the dangers of third-party exposure. But, there are many questions to answer before diving deep into the waters of hybrid cloud.

What is the true definition of a hybrid cloud?

Don't be fooled into thinking you have a hybrid cloud when, in reality, you're using separate public and private clouds. It's all about orchestration when it comes to separating the hybrids from the wannabes. Automated orchestration acts as the bridge between the public and private clouds to help move data between the two. For a true hybrid cloud model, build both cloud types on clustered COTS-based architecture rather than legacy gear. Otherwise, automated orchestration is not possible between the cloud types.

What are the keys to a solid hybrid cloud management strategy?

Fitting the hybrid cloud puzzle together is difficult when some pieces come from a public cloud and others from a private cloud. A solid management strategy is paramount for using a hybrid cloud. Managing hybrid cloud requires consistency, so configurations should be able to run on both cloud types.

No one wants billing surprises at the end of the month, so admins need to stay on top of cloud spending. Hybrid cloud users can keep costs under control with alerts for when infrastructure as a service or platform as a service expenses reach their limits.

Security concerns are always attached to the cloud, and the hybrid model is no different. Security follows the same cloud consistency rules as configurations. Admins should be proactive in planning for security breaches with data encryption and firewalls.

How can I avoid hybrid cloud security hurdles?

Data security is a benefit of private cloud, but that doesn't mean hybrid cloud is without issues. However, many of these concerns are manageable. A lack of data redundancy is a significant cause for concern -- especially when it comes to outages. Using multiple data centers creates a failover option that can limit the damage and inconvenience of an outage.

Negotiating a weak service-level agreement (SLA) can be another cause for concern around hybrid cloud security. Because a hybrid cloud is a combination of public and private, make sure the SLA takes into account both cloud environments. Your cloud SLA should cover the needs for each cloud, and not just focus on one or the other. The same goes for security tools. Authentication and other controls need to be cohesive for public and private clouds.

Compliance, or a lack thereof, is more fuel to the security concern fire. Teamwork is vital to keeping any hybrid cloud compliant, and both clouds need to maintain compliance for the entire platform to succeed.

What if my public cloud provider isn't meeting my expectations?

If your public cloud provider is letting you down, then it's time to part ways. Your hybrid cloud strategy should include a backup provider so you don't have to deal with unexpected costs, poor service or providers dropping the ball on the SLA. But, don't go from one bad provider experience into the arms of another. Make sure your backup provider won't expose you to vendor lock-in. Also, ensure your backup provider is compatible for current and future cloud workloads so you don't have to rearchitect applications. 

How can I combat hybrid cloud deployment issues and manage applications properly?

Even though hybrid cloud is the best of both worlds, you still need to work out some deployment kinks. Each cloud has unique needs and if those needs aren't met, problems will arise -- such as latency and dependency. Planning ahead for these issues when migrating apps from private to public clouds and having a strong understanding of your cloud SLA keeps your hybrid cloud running smoothly.

To get the best hybrid cloud application performance, carefully map out your cloud architecture to determine where the application best fits. An app with poor performance slows down the entire enterprise and frustrates end users and consumers.

Nicholas Rando is assistant site editor for SearchCloudComputing. You can reach him at nrando@techtarget.com.

Next Steps

Keys to designing public cloud apps for hybrid cloud

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This was last published in October 2014

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Given a VM-centric view of building clouds, I could see why you'd say " For a true hybrid cloud model, build both cloud types on clustered COTS-based architecture rather than legacy gear. Otherwise, automated orchestration is not possible between the cloud types." But I'm not sure that will be correct in the future, when containers can run on any cloud and any hardware. It's really less about the underlying HW and more about the API's used to access the services and the specifics about how applications are packaged and how they interact with underlying services (IaaS or PaaS).
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For those who are still debating, my team has started using Stratoscale's services. We've created our own OpenStack based hybrid cloud through them - it is highly flexible and the cloud can do really anything according to your needs and economical considerations.
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