The cloud moniker is used to describe virtually everything in IT today. We call that cloud washing and “hybrid cloud” is suffering the same fate. A cloud is typically a scale-out cluster of commodity servers that deliver a service (compute, storage or both) where workloads or data can transparently move between or across nodes. The idea behind a hybrid cloud is that an organization’s workloads and data can transparently move between private and public providers, including multiple providers.
Why Hybrid Cloud?
Hybrid cloud allows the organization to select the location that makes the most sense for them on a per-workload basis. For example organizations may decide that to keep a workload on-premises because it is only used by on-premises users, and latency or security are a concern. These also may be more traditional scale up workloads that can’t fully benefit from a scale-out compute service.
The organization may have other workloads that are cloud-only that are frequently accessed externally or they are designed for a scale-out compute service. If those workloads have moments in time that have to perform massive processing, like video rendering or analytics processing, having the ability to give that workload thousands of processors to churn through the data will drastically reduce the time to results.
There are situations, however, where it makes sense to move these workloads to an alternate service model. For on-premises workloads if there is a temporary spike in need for more compute or storage performance or data capacity, temporarily moving workloads to the cloud to make room on-premises is ideal. Another use case is if there were a server failure or a disaster, with a hybrid cloud architecture IT could shift all workloads to the cloud until the disaster is over.
Organizations can also leverage a hybrid cloud model for their cloud-only workloads. The outages of public cloud providers seem to be increasing and when those providers have an outage it impacts the organization’s workload. A hybrid cloud model allows the organization to shift to either other providers or to bring that workload back on-premises.
The organization may also leverage a hybrid architecture to take advantage of the on-going price war between public providers. A hybrid architecture frees an organization to shift workloads between providers as needed.
How to Make Hybrid Work?
The key to the hybrid cloud is seamless movement of workloads between on-premises and multiple providers. The compute aspect of workload mobility is relatively straightforward. Many cloud providers can read each other’s virtual machine and container formats or they have the ability to quickly transform them.
It’s data that is the challenge. As the saying goes, data has gravity. Facilitating data movement seamlessly between on-premises and multiple public providers requires that a foundational component be put in place: A data fabric. A data fabric provides a consistent file system, that spans across multiple nodes on-premises and into multiple cloud providers. Data can move or copy between these destinations easily through IT interaction or automatically based on policy.
The hybrid cloud concept gets a lot of attention and deservedly so since it is the most practical use case for many organizations. It allows them to move into cloud computing gradually and then expand as they see benefit. It also lets them return to an on-premises model or expand to multiple clouds as the needs of the business dictate. What’s been missing is an underpinning that enable data, the heartbeat of any workload to make that move with the workload. A data fabric does that job.
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