A hybrid cloud network is a network that enables data transfers between on-premises IT resources, private clouds and public clouds, in other words, a hybrid cloud. Hybrid cloud computing supports the movement of workloads across these environments and is connected by telecommunication and cloud services and the infrastructure that supports those connections.
Hybrid cloud computing is an environment that creates flexibility by allowing a business to use both public and private networks for different uses. Advances in virtualization technology have made cloud computing more feasible, cost-efficient, and useful for an ever-expanding number of use cases.
The immense flexibility and power of the hybrid cloud platform enables businesses to replace physical servers, switches and routers in many cases. File storage is one of the more common services that have been taken over by cloud computing. A hybrid cloud environment allows for sensitive data to be stored on premises on a private cloud while other types of data can be stored in the less expensive public cloud.
To function efficiently and usefully, a hybrid cloud’s various environments and the resources within those environments need to be accessible and manageable in a streamlined way. A hybrid cloud platform thus provides central management capabilities for accessing, organizing and utilizing the on-premises, private cloud and public cloud resources. Essentially the hybrid cloud platform creates one unified network architecture from all the disparate parts that make up a hybrid cloud.
Hybrid cloud performance depends on optimizing how application components run. One way to improve that performance is by grouping applications into workloads that include databases, programming and a user interface. There are multiple ways to create workloads, using options like virtual machines, applications or containers (lightweight packages that include application code, databases, middleware and security programs). Applications should be grouped in a way that makes them easier to work with. The end goal is for the hybrid cloud network to seamlessly move workloads between the IT environments as needed.
To create optimized workloads, enterprises must invest in training or hire the right experts. A company that is considering moving to a hybrid cloud network architecture needs to understand the potential complexity of the technology. Businesses will want to think through all of the following aspects when shifting to a hybrid cloud environment:
- Scalability: Find out which workloads are scalable and how to best scale them.
- Stability: Perform load and stress tests to determine which behaviors or loads make workloads reliable or unstable. Stability is a major factor for cloud applications, given that they often need to support hundreds, if not thousands of users at once.
- Functionality: Test the user experience. Ensure that public cloud–hosted applications meet business requirements and work as intended. Developers should check that the individual modules of an application work properly. Also check that applications run efficiently on different platforms, or as they move from one cloud provider to another.
- Data limitations: Explore the limitations of grouping data in workloads. For example, is it more efficient to group certain data in a container or leverage that data using traditional interfaces?
- Management: Determine how to manage clusters of workloads over a long period of time.
- Security: Decide how to best govern and secure your data, and what impact a given security solution has on the hybrid cloud network’s performance.
Businesses enable hybrid cloud network connectivity through a variety of ways: Internet services, a VPN or a direct interconnection. When greater security is required, organizations can transfer data to an encrypted appliance and ship it to the public cloud service provider for direct transfer to the cloud provider's environment. The appliances are then wiped once the transfer is complete.
Cloud services may offer security features that include access and firewall controls, advanced configurations and automated encryption. Enterprises should also implement their own cloud security strategies. The following are best practices when it comes to planning for hybrid cloud network security:
- Encrypt data: To secure data in the cloud, it is necessary to encrypt it. First, map out data flows through all of the applications that store data. Then, encrypt that data the same way in storage and during a transfer. More complex security plans might include tracking data by attributes and monitoring any changes.
- Manage access: Whether or not a company is directly managing how internal staff or customers access data, security measures must be in place. Apply the same distributed access controls used for applications to data when it moves off site or over the public Internet. If application access includes a role-based security layer, then add that same role-based access control to data in the public cloud. Enterprises also should work with their cloud provider to verify that customer data is separated, both at rest and in motion.
- Store sensitive data carefully: Private clouds are usually better suited for storing sensitive data. You network security plan should include restrictions on lateral movement within the network, so that if someone gains unauthorized access to one part of the network, other parts still remain inaccessible.Test
- security: It is critical that companies prevent vulnerabilities from negatively effecting users. Penetration tests, for example, simulate activity from a malicious user to identify potential breaches. There are also third-party tools to test and verify cloud security configurations and identify any gaps.
While hybrid cloud networking is considered one of the most stable cloud environments and has clear advantages over the use of a sole private or public cloud, it can still present challenges. Below are some common hybrid cloud network challenges that businesses may encounter when developing a hybrid cloud network data center:
Cost: Although companies can save money in the long term with a hybrid cloud environment, the initial deployment of ahybrid cloud network architecture costs more to set up than just using a public cloud. Investment in hardware, such as private servers, is required in order to deploy on premises. Also, as you performance scales, your cost-per-hour fees will increase.
Compatibility: Cloud compatibility can be an issue for hybrid cloud environments, so choose cloud combinations carefully. IT teams must understand how their platforms and applications interact in order to achieve optimal performance. A fast-performing on-premises infrastructure may not be able to successfully perform in combination with a slower-performing public cloud architecture, leading to a sluggish hybrid cloud network.
Security: While hybrid clouds are relatively secure, precautionary steps should always be taken to assure safekeeping of your company’s data.
Management: Lastly, stay on top of available resources. Periodically review available tools that can help with hybrid cloud management.
While these issues are important to address, if an enterprise uses the right resources and expertise to test and execute, deploying a hybrid cloud network can open up many new possibilities for business potential and agility.