Planning for Deployment of a Hybrid Cloud Environment

When planning for deployment in a hybrid cloud environment, keep in mind that the hybrid cloud isn’t a single architectural model; rather, it’s a combination of a lot of different services that are located on different platforms. From an architecture perspective, it’s important to look at the relationships among the services that are used together. Therefore, the usage of cloud management technologies needs to be considered as part of the architectural framework of the hybrid cloud.

In the hybrid cloud, you will never bring all services and elements together as though they were one system. Instead, you need to have a clear understanding of the distributed services and how they relate to each other. Many of the approaches require the creation of best-practices templates that can be used to create the right linkages between services.

A well-designed hybrid cloud environment has to be built to support change. Change can be the addition of another cloud service, such as a SaaS (Software as a Service) application or a new business partner and their set of services. In essence, hybrid models have the following primary architectural considerations:

  • Latency and performance

  • Security

  • Governance

  • Reliability in the context of change

Latency: Performance matters

When planning your hybrid model, you need to consider the overall performance of your platform, which means that you have to monitor and measure your entire environment. For example, say that a critical issue for your business is the speed at which customers’ orders are confirmed. If you don’t handle this issue efficiently, customers won’t be happy and may move to another supplier. You may want to keep transaction management running within a private cloud or data center environment.

If you were to use a public cloud transaction management service, the latency involved in moving data between networks would cause service delays. In addition, some applications require regular access to and manipulation of complex data. If this were to happen on a regular basis, you might not be able to perform as customers expect. In this situation, stick with either your current on-premises solution or a well-architected private cloud environment. On the other hand, you may discover that for other applications, a SaaS application provides acceptable latency to meet the needs of your constituents.

In addition to the performance of a specific cloud service, you need to consider the location of a service. A service in a public cloud may be fine for one type of use but may have unacceptable latency when several services need to exchange data rapidly. Therefore, part of the hybrid architecture requires that you understand what role each service plays and how those services need to interact with each other.

Security: Planning in context

When planning your hybrid environment, at the outset, you need to think about the security requirements for customers. What type of environment are you providing for your customers? Are you creating an informational resource that might be tied to a set of product data sheets?

However, if you’ve created a platform that manages private health data, you must ensure that you’ve created the level of protection and privacy your customers (and the government) demand. You need to understand these considerations before you begin your design. So, make sure your cloud providers can match your requirements.

Governance: Getting the right balance

Like security, governance requirements will determine how you plan your hybrid cloud environment. Many industries have rules of engagement that are considered best practices. If you’re part of an industry that’s required to meet sophisticated governance requirements, it’s important to select partners that meet your needs. You may discover that you can’t use a third party for this part of your environment.

Many countries have strict guidelines and requirements for how private data must be handled. In some countries, an individual’s data must be stored physically within that country. These types of governance requirements demand that IT organizations plan their platform with this in mind. This means including process management services that determine where data must be stored, which means that, in some countries, data is stored in a single physical data center. In other countries, data may be highly distributed across geographies without violating rules. Some cloud providers can implement automated policies that ensure that certain services run based on these rules.

Creating flexibility in the model

Companies looking at cloud computing typically assume that it’s an all-or-nothing model. However, cloud computing is simply part of an overall distributed architectural plan. Within an architectural framework, determining business, performance, and customer goals is important, and to do so, you must take into account all aspects of computing.

You need to consider the issue of latency of overall performance and latency of managing data. If applications and services being offered to customers are based on a tightly coupled set of services with many dependencies, a public cloud service will cause serious problems with performance. However, if the organization is creating and leveraging a platform of well-defined and loosely coupled services that are designed to be easily linked together at runtime, a public cloud service is ideal.

Most organizations have a combination of these two scenarios; thus, architecturally, you need to think of your platform as a combination of data center, private cloud, and public cloud services. When you approach architectural considerations from this holistic perspective, the customer is well served and protected.

Some vendors will actually help you by providing several deployment options (public, private, data center) from the same platform, making it easier for your company to have a unified platform that can adapt to a wide number of use cases and constraints.

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