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what is hybrid cloud infrastructure

Hybrid cloud deployments allow you to combine the best features of public cloud, private cloud, and on-premises infrastructure. But what exactly goes into hybrid cloud infrastructure, and how is it achieved? In this blog, we’ll compare the expectations of a hybrid cloud to the realities of implementation and provide advice on overcoming these challenges.

What is hybrid cloud infrastructure?

Hybrid cloud infrastructure involves using a combination of public cloud, private cloud, and on-premises data center environments. True hybrid cloud architecture allows you to move workloads back and forth among these environments safely and securely.

  • A public cloud is what most people think of when they hear cloud computing. Public cloud services are decoupled from the underlying infrastructure and delivered as a web-based application or platform. The actual compute resources are shared amongst many other customers. Examples of a public cloud include Microsoft 365 and Google Apps.
  • Private cloud infrastructure is owned and managed by a third-party provider, but other customers do not share the hardware you use. You rent dedicated storage and compute resources, but have no physical access to or control over the infrastructure. Examples of a private cloud include Microsoft Azure and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).
  • An on-premises data center is a data center that your organization has complete control over. It may or may not be on the same premises as your headquarters office. Not all hybrid cloud infrastructures include on-premises environments—only public and private clouds are required.

The public cloud offers many benefits for enterprises, such as scalability and cost savings. However, organizations frequently need greater control over certain data and resources. For example, any company working with healthcare information, or providing services to the federal government, must follow strict privacy and security regulations. That’s why many organizations opt to keep some of their resources in on-premises data centers or private clouds.

That said, keeping these resources isolated from your public cloud services, applications, and data is not always feasible. There’s a need for interoperability and orchestration of workloads among mixed architectures. In a hybrid cloud infrastructure, there is a virtual service that acts as a managed “bridge” between different environments. This allows you to move workloads, applications, data, and other resources around as needed to ensure peak performance without compromising security.

Hybrid cloud infrastructure: expectations vs. reality

The expectation for hybrid cloud infrastructure is that all of your systems, services, and applications will work together seamlessly. Your data and other resources will be portable, so you can move them from one cloud to another without compatibility issues or other headaches. Most importantly, you’ll have a centralized, web-based platform to orchestrate workloads across your heterogenous environment. The reality of hybrid cloud, however, is often much more complicated.

Vendor lock-in

One major hurdle to implementing a hybrid network environment is closed ecosystems. Vendor lock-in can prevent your legacy on-premises solutions from interoperating with cloud hardware and software, and vice-versa. Data and applications designed for traditional infrastructure may be incompatible with cloud platforms. And not only do these systems all need to communicate and work together, but you also need an orchestration platform that can dig its hooks into disparate vendor solutions and control them equally.

Issues with vendor interoperability could force you to rebuild your entire stack just to enable hybrid orchestration. To get around this expensive and time-consuming challenge, you need a hybrid cloud infrastructure orchestration platform that’s based on an open architecture for true vendor neutrality. This will allow you to manage workloads across cloud and legacy environments without replacing the systems and software already in place.

Infrastructure complexity

Hybrid cloud infrastructure reduces the number of physical servers and storage devices you’re responsible for, so you might assume this will reduce the complexity of your network operations. This isn’t necessarily the case. The virtual and physical hardware responsibility is shifted to the cloud vendor, but your team will still need to know how to configure, monitor, and maintain all your cloud services.

In a hybrid cloud infrastructure, there are often many different platforms from different vendors. That means you need people who are experts in all these systems. Plus, you’ll also need a more complex network architecture to support a seamless hybrid cloud environment. That often means purchasing more boxes from more vendors, which your team must also learn to configure and maintain.

One way to reduce the complexity of your hybrid cloud infrastructure is by consolidating your networking stack. For example, you can use high-density serial console switches that provide out-of-band (OOB) management interfaces, network failover, environmental monitoring, and network switching. Similarly, you can look for modular, multi-function devices that allow you to create a custom box that includes all the specific hardware and functionality you need.This will reduce the number of devices in your rack and provide administrators with a single platform to manage all this functionality.

Spiraling costs

Cloud services are often less expensive to deploy and scale than on-premises infrastructure. Instead of a large up-front cost to purchase and install new hardware solutions, you typically pay a smaller recurring fee. When you need more resources, you simply upgrade your services for additional cost without needing to buy and configure more hardware.

The issue is that these recurring fees can begin to snowball over time, especially if you keep increasing your contract. Many cloud services often come in bundles or packages, meaning you can’t just pick and choose the functionality you need a la carte. So, you could end up paying for features you don’t even need.

Plus, you’ll incur additional costs if you need to rebuild part or all of your on-premises stack to enable hybrid cloud orchestration. The same goes for the networking technology that’s required for hybrid integrations. These expenses can be reduced by following the advice above—using a completely vendor-neutral hybrid cloud orchestration platform. Plus, consolidating and streamlining your infrastructure in as many ways as possible, such as with the hardware itself, but also with the software and management layers. For example, an OS allows you to easily/seamlessly integrate many different solutions, and a management platform allows you to manage everything from a normalized UI—rather than having to spend money on many different specialists.

Implementing a hybrid cloud infrastructure is often more challenging than organizations expect. However, by using vendor-neutral solutions and consolidating your tech stack, you can avoid vendor lock-in, reduce the complexity of your infrastructure, and keep costs in check.

Ready to simplify hybrid cloud infrastructure?

The Nodegrid infrastructure management solution from ZPE Systems enables true hybrid cloud orchestration. Nodegrid’s open architecture and vendor-neutral hardware can get its hooks into all your legacy, on-premises, and cloud solutions, so you have total control over your hybrid environment. With the ZPE Cloud management platform, you can monitor and orchestrate your entire infrastructure from behind one pane of glass.

Plus, Nodegrid’s consolidated networking hardware can help you reduce the complexity of your tech stack while still delivering all the features and functionality you need. Some of the world’s biggest tech companies are benefiting from this, by using Nodegrid to deploy and manage their hybrid infrastructures.

What is hybrid cloud infrastructure, and how can Nodegrid help you achieve it? 

Contact ZPE Systems to learn more.
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