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Hybrid Cloud Architecture

Hybrid Cloud Architecture Overview: Organizations need unique capabilities to compete against their competitors and potential competitors. Developing unique capabilities is enabled in how organizations use their assets today, especially their IT assets for these capabilities. One trend that is here to stay is the use of cloud computing capabilities to help organizations with their total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) of IT services. Any advantage in improving TCO or ROI can significantly impact the ability of a company to be competitive using its IT assets.

What is a hybrid cloud architecture?

Hybrid cloud architecture uses two or more different types of clouds to form a single system for the delivery or support of a service. Organizations may have multiple clouds that are used for various purposes, which is termed a multi-cloud environment. When multi-clouds are used for a single purpose or service, it is a multi-cloud implementation. Each hybrid cloud architecture can vary based on business needs.

There are many cloud architecture patterns or approaches to managing work in the cloud. Each pattern is used to take advantage of the characteristics of using cloud computing for organizational services. For example, automated configuration patterns or Infrastructure as Code (IAC) enable deployment or provisioning using scripts. This can be helpful if each of your customers utilizes a service; it requires that you provision the needed resources each time and then de-provision after usage. Some organizations use this architecture pattern for video services. This takes advantage of the cloud characteristic of rapid elasticity. There are also high availability patterns for managing workflows, compute resources, and other aspects of the cloud to avoid interruption and deliver a good customer experience.

What does hybrid cloud architecture look like?

Within Hybrid clouds, three basic service models used are Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Each of these models can be used on different clouds and then integrated with a hybrid-cloud approach. This allows the organization to select needed capabilities for each layer in their overall cloud architecture.

A hybrid cloud architecture can be the following:

  • Public cloud to private cloud configuration
  • Public cloud to public cloud configuration
  • Private cloud to private cloud configuration
  • or many multiples of any clouds configurations

Each cloud in the hybrid cloud architecture can have a specific SaaS architecture, PaaS architecture, and IaaS architecture. Each can be considered a hybrid SaaS architecture, hybrid PaaS architecture, and Hybrid IaaS architecture.

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How are hybrid clouds connected?

Hybrid clouds are connected with network capabilities. An organization may use virtual private networks (VPN), wide area networks (WAN), application program integrations (API), or other methods to enable communication between the cloud platforms.

Hybrid Cloud ArchitectureVPNs enable secure and encrypted communications over the internet. VPNs work like a private network in an on-premise private cloud to help organizations securely transmit data and information over the internet.

WANs are networks that work over distances, unlike a local area network (LAN) that connects devices locally. WANs are very dependable for connecting devices over the open internet. Connectivity in this manner should also be encrypted.

APIs allow interfaces to integrate into applications. This is used so one application can communicate with the other at the application level. APIs make application integration feel seamless between the applications for various approved functions between the applications.

Besides the technical aspects listed for connectivity, be sure to remember the business needs. Organizations can put many of the technologies in place but have to be sure they meet the business’s needs and customers.

Things to consider while building the hybrid cloud architecture

When creating a hybrid cloud architecture, consideration should be made to the capabilities of each cloud in supporting a hybrid approach to the services being delivered. For guidance, consider the aspects or characteristics of cloud computing; each platform can offer different capabilities relative to each.

Cloud computing characteristics or capabilities are:

  • Broad network access – Cloud capabilities available over the internet anywhere and using any device that is connected to the internet
  • Resource pooling – Computing resources are pooled together and dynamically used, storage, processing, memory, network, etc.
  • On-demand self-service – Consumer can perform all actions without the need for service IT department
  • Scalability and rapid elasticity – Provision and de-provisioning dynamic and automated
  • Economics – Cost savings
  • Reporting – Report on all aspects, especially usage
  • Security – Secure from outsiders
  • Resilience – high availability of the cloud services
  • Measured service – The metering capability to monitor resource usage
  • Multi-tenancy vs. Multi-tenant – Allow customer to run one instance of cloud service or have multiple instances of the same service
cloud on chip

Advantages and disadvantages

Hybrid cloud allows the organization to pick the best capabilities from the various clouds. This allows increased flexibility, elasticity, and maybe an overall improvement in services versus using one cloud to do all the work. The disadvantage of this approach is the increased complexity of the hybrid solution. This will require expertise in setup, configurations, and integrations across the chosen cloud platforms. 

Picking and maintaining a cloud architecture, especially a hybrid architecture, still requires knowledge of IT capabilities. The organization may not need all the capabilities they had before to manage IT, but IT knowledge is still needed. More importantly, the knowledge of required business outcomes and understanding of risk tolerance for the organization is necessary for selecting the best hybrid cloud architecture to proceed with. Continuous improvement is always on the horizon, no matter what hybrid cloud solution is chosen.

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