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Hybrid cloud strategy blends public, private cloud benefits

When opting for a hybrid cloud infrastructure during digital transformation, migrating applications and workloads to the cloud doesn't necessarily dictate vacating the premises.

Debating whether to migrate processes and functions to the public cloud or remain on the premises with a private cloud doesn't have to come down to an either/or decision.

"[O]rganizations still grapple with sizeable footprints of on-premises applications and workloads, and many IT leaders are looking for ways to make their own data centers more cloud-like," reported Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), a division of TechTarget. As a result, 75% of respondents to ESG's 2021 survey on network security trends said their companies have adopted or are planning to adopt a hybrid cloud model.

"Hybrid cloud gives you the best of both worlds," said Brien Posey, whose 30 years of IT experience include lead network engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense, CIO for a chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities, network administrator for major insurance companies and Microsoft MVP. "[I]n the vast majority of cases, hybrid cloud is the preferred solution because it gives you the greatest degree of flexibility for your workloads. … [O]n-premises resources are still used, and they're combined with resources that reside in the public cloud. So, you can continue to make use of that hardware that exists within your data center."

By 2024, IDC predicted, "the majority of legacy applications will receive some modernization investment, with cloud services used by 65% of the applications to extend functionality or replace inefficient code." And by 2025, 60% of enterprises "will implement dedicated cloud services either on premises or in a service provider facility" to manage security, compliance and performance.

In this video, Posey examines the advantages and disadvantages of public, private and hybrid cloud infrastructures and explains why a hybrid model makes the most sense for workload agility, flexibility and scalability, cost controls, compliance, business continuity and disaster recovery.

Transcript

Hi, this is Brien Posey and today I want to talk about why a hybrid cloud might be your best option. This presentation is designed to be largely introductory in nature. And to that end, there are several things that I want to cover. I'm going to begin by talking a little bit about the public cloud.

Now, as I'm sure you know, a lot of businesses have taken a cloud-first approach to deploying IT workloads. And for good reason -- the cloud has a lot going for it. But at the same time, there are also certain disadvantages to running workloads in a public cloud. So, I want to spend a little bit of time talking about some of the advantages and the disadvantages associated with public cloud. From there, I'm going to move on to a discussion of the private cloud. The private cloud is a lot like the public cloud, except for the IT resources reside in your own data center. And like the public cloud, there are certain advantages and disadvantages to private cloud. And then finally, I'm going to move on to a discussion of hybrid cloud. Hybrid cloud gives you the best of both worlds. It gives you all of the advantages of public cloud, as well as the advantages of private cloud. So, I'm going to be talking all about how hybrid cloud may be the best option for you in your own organization.

Before I get into the main part of this presentation, I just want to take a moment and introduce myself and give you a little bit of information about my background. Again, my name is Brien Posey, and I'm a freelance technology author and speaker. I'm also a 19-time Microsoft MVP. Before I went freelance, I worked as a network administrator for some of the largest insurance companies in America. I was also the lead network engineer for the United States Department of Defense at Fort Knox, and I worked as a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities. In addition to my IT background, I've also spent the last several years training as a commercial astronaut candidate in preparation for a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. So that's just a little bit about me. Let's get on with the presentation.

I want to begin the presentation by talking a little bit about public cloud. I'm guessing that most of you are probably already familiar with public cloud, but I want to go ahead and introduce the topic just in case because it is going to come into play a little bit later on in the discussion. There are actually a number of different types of public clouds -- everything from infrastructure-as-a-service clouds to software-as-a-service clouds. So, for the purposes of this discussion, when I refer to public cloud, I'm going to be talking about infrastructure-as-a-service cloud.

Now, if you're not familiar with infrastructure-as-a-service clouds, the basic idea is that the cloud provider gives subscribers the ability to create various types of resources on demand within the cloud. For example, a subscriber might create virtual machine instances, they might create databases, or they might provision various managed services within the cloud. And the subscriber is billed based on the resources that they use within the cloud. And that's actually one of the really big advantages to public cloud, is that you're only paying for the resources that you actually use. You never have to worry about purchasing something and then not fully utilizing it.

Now, certainly, there are plenty of other advantages to using public cloud. One of the big advantages is that you don't have to worry about buying any hardware. When you subscribe to a public cloud, you're hosting resources on the cloud provider's hardware, so you don't have to purchase that hardware yourself and deploy it in your own data center. Similarly, the cloud provider handles all of the hardware-related tasks. This might include purchasing the hardware, getting it all deployed and set up, and all of the ongoing hardware maintenance, such as replacing failed hard drives or refreshing aging hardware.

Another advantage to the public cloud is that the cloud makes it extremely easy to deploy new workloads. For example, if an organization needs to deploy a new virtual machine, they can typically do that with just a few mouse clicks. The public cloud also provides almost infinite scalability. If a workload needs to scale, you can easily provision additional resources to meet the needs of that workload. And, you can deprovision resources just as easily. And this is really nice because, in a public cloud environment, there is no guilt associated with the deprovisioning of resources. If you retire a workload on premises, then you may have hardware that's going to sit unused after that, so you're not fully capitalizing on the investment that you made in that hardware. Well, in a public cloud, you don't have to worry about that because you never actually purchased the hardware. You're simply paying for the resources that you use on that hardware. And when you're done with a particular workload, you can step away from it and not have to worry about what happens with the hardware. And then another advantage is that large public clouds tend to be extremely reliable and secure.

Just as there are advantages to hosting certain workloads in the public cloud, there can also potentially be some disadvantages that you need to be aware of.

One such disadvantage is cost. From the very beginning, the public cloud has been marketed as being the inexpensive option for hosting IT workloads. And, in a lot of cases, running a workload in the cloud can indeed save you a lot of money. But you have to remember that the public cloud providers bill you based on the resources that you consume. So, what this means is that you have to be very careful to avoid allocating excessive resources to a workload. Otherwise, it's going to cost you a lot more money to run that workload than what is really necessary. So, you do have to keep an eye on cost in order to avoid surprise billing.

Another potential disadvantage to be aware of is that there are going to be some workloads that simply don't work all that well in a public cloud environment. This can be especially true for legacy workloads. And those workloads might be better suited for remaining on premises.

Something else to be aware of is that hosting a workload in the cloud can complicate your security. Now, this isn't to say that your security is going to be weakened simply because you moved a workload to the public cloud. As a matter of fact, the opposite often happens. Moving a workload to the public cloud can, in some ways, improve the workload security. But just know that the migration process will cause you to have to reevaluate the workload security, and in some cases, things can be a little bit more complicated.

Another potential disadvantage to be aware of is that when you host a workload in the public cloud, you don't have access to low-level resources on the server that the workload is running on. This can limit your ability to customize the workload's platform. For a lot of workloads, this isn't a big deal, but it is something that you need to be aware of.

Another thing to keep in mind with regard to posting a workload in the public cloud is that some workloads could potentially overwhelm your organization's internet connection. Now, certainly, this isn't true for all workloads; but, if you have a workload that generates a heavy amount of internet traffic between your organization and the cloud provider, then that workload is going to be competing with your end users and with other applications for internet bandwidth. So, you just need to make sure that you've got plenty of internet bandwidth to accommodate that workload.

And a moment ago, I mentioned that there are some workloads that really don't work all that well in a public cloud environment. Sometimes that happens because a workload just doesn't really mesh well with the cloud infrastructure. But another reason why you might have trouble making a workload work in a public cloud is because you might not be able to reuse your software licenses in a cloud environment. Now, again, this isn't true for every workload, but it is something that's worth paying attention to.

And then finally, one last disadvantage is that there can be a temptation to skimp on the resources that are allocated to your application. Remember, in a public cloud environment, you're paying for the resources that you consume. So, there can be a temptation to cut some corners and not give an application all the resources that it really needs, just in an effort to stretch the IT budget a bit.

So now that I've talked a little bit about public clouds, I want to turn my attention to private clouds. Private clouds have a lot of similarities to public clouds in that they provide authorized users with a self-service environment that allows them to create resources on demand. For example, an authorized user might create virtual machines based on a template that's been put into place by an administrator within the private cloud environment. The primary difference between a private cloud and a public cloud is that the private cloud is based on the organization's own hardware. That's hardware that the organization owns that exists in the organization's own data center.

One of the most important things to understand about a private cloud environment is that although the environment does indeed give you cloud-like functionality, you'll lose one of the key benefits that's associated with public clouds -- namely, pay-as-you-go pricing. Because remember, the private cloud is based on hardware that exists in your own data center. So that means that you have to purchase all of the capacity that you're going to need in advance of actually needing it. And you're also going to have to handle all of the hardware maintenance yourself. Whereas in a public cloud environment, the cloud provider takes care of all of the hardware acquisition and all of the hardware maintenance on your behalf.

Now that I've spent some time talking about both public cloud and private cloud, and the advantages and disadvantages of each, I want to turn my attention to hybrid cloud.

Hybrid cloud is essentially a combination of public and private cloud resources. The public and private clouds are merged together in a way that gives the organizations all of the benefits of both technologies. It's a way of getting the best of both worlds. And, as you can imagine, there are many compelling benefits to choosing the hybrid cloud option. So, I want to talk about some of those benefits.

One of the big benefits to building a hybrid cloud is that it doesn't require an organization to abandon its existing hardware resources. Because, very often, when an organization is running a workload on premises and they decided that they want to migrate that workload to the cloud, then once the workload has been migrated, they have to figure out what to do with the hardware that the workload had previously been running on. Remember, this is hardware that the organization had bought and paid for -- and now it's just sitting idle. And because the hardware is sitting idle, the organization's no longer realizing a return on investment from that hardware. Oftentimes, the hardware ends up being prematurely retired simply because it no longer has a workload to run. But in a hybrid cloud, on-premises resources are still used, and they're combined with resources that reside in the public cloud. So, you can continue to make use of that hardware that exists within your data center.

Another especially compelling benefit to building a hybrid cloud is that a hybrid cloud gives you flexibility. You're free to run a workload in the location where it makes the most sense to do so. And there are any number of criteria that might establish where it makes the most sense to run a given workload. One such criteria is cost. You may find that it costs less to host a particular workload on premises than in a public cloud. Of course, the opposite can be true, too. You might find that it's cheaper to run a given workload in the public cloud than it is to run it in your own data center. And in a hybrid cloud environment, you have that flexibility of being able to place that workload where it makes the most sense to do so based on cost.

Another factor that sometimes plays into the decision as to where a particular workload should be hosted are your compliance requirements. For example, there may be a compliance mandate that requires a given workload to be hosted on premises, rather than it residing in the public cloud. And if you have a hybrid cloud environment, you're certainly free to do that; you can place a workload where it needs to go based on your compliance mandates.

One more factor that often plays into the decision as to where a particular workload should be hosted is simply the workload logistics. For example, if you have a very bandwidth-intensive application, you may want to keep that application in your own data center so that you're not consuming an excessive amount of internet bandwidth. At the same time, if you have a workload that depends on a number of other managed services residing in the public cloud, then it might make more sense to host that particular application in the public cloud. The bottom line is that a hybrid cloud environment gives you the flexibility to run that workload wherever it makes the most sense to do so.

Yet another benefit to building a hybrid cloud is that hybrid clouds give you on-demand scalability but without the hardware investment. Now, as you'll recall, hybrid clouds make use of hardware that's running on premises, but they also make use of resources in the public cloud. So, if you suddenly need to scale up a workload, you don't necessarily need to go out and purchase more hardware. You could use resources residing within the public cloud to help you to scale that workload. If, at a later time, you need to scale that workload back down, well, then you could simply deprovision resources in the public cloud and bring the entire workload back on premises. The point is that the hybrid cloud gives you the ability to demand-scale your workload either up or down without necessarily having to purchase additional hardware.

Another benefit is that hybrid clouds can improve an organization's agility. Remember, hybrid clouds use resources residing both locally in the organization's own data center and in the public cloud. And having all these resources at your disposal makes it very, very easy to provision and deploy new workloads at a moment's notice, thereby helping to make the organization far more agile than it might otherwise be.

Yet another benefit to the hybrid cloud is that, when properly configured, a hybrid cloud can help an organization to achieve business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities that might otherwise be out of reach. One of the most popular use cases for hybrid cloud is to configure workloads that are running on premises to automatically fail over to the public cloud should something happen in the organization's own data center. Hybrid clouds are often also used for disaster recovery purposes. For example, workloads running on premises might be backed up to public cloud resources. These are just a couple of different examples of some of the ways that organizations achieve business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities through the hybrid cloud.

And one more benefit to building a hybrid cloud is that hybrid clouds are really good for accommodating temporary workloads. If, for example, an organization needed to provision a new workload, but they knew going in that that particular workload was going to be temporary in nature, then the hybrid cloud would make it very easy for the organization to deploy the resources that were needed by that workload and then to reclaim those resources once the workload is no longer needed.

So, those are just a few of the many benefits to building a hybrid cloud. Throughout this presentation, I've stressed the idea that there are three main types of clouds: public, private and hybrid. And in the vast majority of cases, hybrid cloud is the preferred model. Now, having said that, hybrid cloud does have some disadvantages, just as public and private cloud have disadvantages. The main disadvantage to building a hybrid cloud is that some hardware is going to be required. That means that if you don't already have hardware in your data center, you're going to need to purchase some hardware. And because of that, hybrid cloud probably isn't going to be the best choice for startups. If you've got a startup organization, it's generally going to be more cost-effective to deploy workloads in a public cloud. But if you do have hardware in your own data center, then you can certainly use that hardware to build a hybrid cloud.

Now, if you're interested in building a hybrid cloud and you don't already have hardware or don't have enough hardware, there is another option available. There are vendors that will give you consumption-based pricing for data center hardware. So, that's just something to think about.

The bottom line is that, in the vast majority of cases, hybrid cloud is the preferred solution because it gives you the greatest degree of flexibility for your workloads. So, I hope you found this presentation to be informative. I'm Brien Posey, thanks for watching.

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