Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hybrid Cloud - Move at Your Own Pace

This is the first in a series of Hybrid Cloud articles where I review what "Cloud" means, discuss it's value, and move on to showing how to actually leverage cloud in your business.  The second blog, Hybrid Cloud - IaaS Foundation Part 1 is available now.
Are you thinking about going to the cloud and worried about having to go all-in and re-engineer your whole IT strategy?  Don't get hung up on the word "cloud" - the cloud is really just another data center - just one run by a company that does it professionally and focuses on doing it at scale and with resources you couldn't hope to match.  Besides... you don't have to go all-in at all.  You can adopt a hybrid approach.

Remember Mr. Miagi from the Karate Kid?  "Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later [makes squish gesture] get squish just like grape." Yeah... the hybrid cloud isn't like that at all.
With the hybrid cloud you get the best of both worlds - on-premises and the cloud.  You leave the workloads and data on-site that can't or don't make sense to move to the cloud and you move the rest.  Oh, and you can do it at your own pace and back out any time you like without penalty.  Did I mention you pay for only what you use and get billed by the minute?
Here's how "cloud" looks in a traditional data center:
You manage everything from the hardware and networking up through the O/S, data and applications.
At the other end of the spectrum you have full cloud computing or Software as a Service (SaaS) where everything is managed by the provider and you just get a web application:
Hybrid cloud isn't just mixing which services are provided by you and the vendor- as you see in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS):
Hybrid actually takes portions of a workload - some data, an application, some infrastructure - and moves just that to the cloud, leaving the rest on-premises.  Here's an example:
In this case, the data is stored in the existing data center but is connected to services in the cloud:
  1. Data is stored in your on-premises data center
  2. A Windows virtual machine in IaaS in the cloud runs a custom application that connects back to the data center.  (You choose a VM on IaaS instead of PaaS because the custom code requires O/S customization.)  The virtual machine could even integrate data from multiple on-premises and cloud sources.
  3. A web application that takes the output from the custom app on the VM is hosted on PaaS (to enable easier scaling and reduce patching and O/S management overhead).
  4. The application on PaaS then presents a web interface that is integrated in to your SharePoint Online intranet portal.
I'm not an application architect (though I can hook you up with some good ones!) but there are lots of options to choose from.  The beautiful thing about the cloud is that you can choose the best option for each part of your solution and you don't have to move the whole application to the cloud.
In another example, your Exchange e-mail is on-premises and you want to move just some of your users to the cloud:
In the diagram above, there are some Exchange users in the cloud and some on-premises.  They interact with each other as if they were on the same e-mail system.  You can choose to move just some mailboxes to the cloud or all of them and even move them back if you like.  Perhaps you have some users with e-mail data that contains trade secrets or bank card information... leave them on-premises if you like and just move the general user population to gain efficiency and scale where it makes sense.
The two main things you gain from the cloud are:
  1. Scalability
  2. Flexibility
And with hybrid cloud you don't have to sacrifice your current IT infrastructure and practices to leverage the cloud's benefits.
This article is cross posted from my original on LinkedIn Pulse: Hybrid Cloud - Move at Your Own Pace.
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