A hybrid infrastructure, or hybrid cloud is an IT infrastructure design and environment made up of a mix of on-premises data centers, private clouds and/or public clouds. Operating systems and applications can be deployed on any part of this environment, depending on the business needs and requirements. Hybrid infrastructure uses hybrid IT infrastructure services, or cloud services, to help manage and monitor an enterprise’s entire IT infrastructure. This is important as IT environments and requirements continue to become more complex.
A hybrid cloud architecture can offer important benefits to businesses of all sizes including:
- Control: Instead of trusting a third-party cloud provider to manage every aspect of a company’s IT infrastructure, an IT team can customize and adjust the private end of its hybrid model to fit its needs, maintaining control over critical operations and data.
- Scalability: A hybrid infrastructure allows a company to tap into the flexibility and power of the public cloud to seamlessly increase its operational capacity when computing demands spike, while allowing business-critical data and operations to remain in the private cloud or an on-premise data center. Changing out hardware and software is much faster and easier in a cloud environment compared to traditional network infrastructure, where upgrading can take weeks or even months.
- Security: With a hybrid cloud model, businesses can leverage the security of on-premises infrastructure and private cloud while taking advantage of the power and services of a public cloud—reducing the potential exposure of critical data. While data stored in a private environment will likely still have to run on a public cloud for analytics and applications, an encryption protocol can be used to minimize security breaches. Organizations can also decide where in the cloud to house their data and workloads based on policy, compliance andsecurity requirements.
- Cost savings: From a cost perspective, hybrid cloud storage is an attractive alternative to a purely private cloud, which can be expensive to update and expand over time. A hybrid infrastructure allows a company to optimize its IT spending while lowering operational expenses with the secure, scalable public cloud for non-mission critical parts of its business.Hybrid cloud vendors often allow companies to pay for public cloud services only when they need them.
- Business continuity: Hybrid environments allow the public cloud to absorb workload surges, so as computing demands increase or suddenly spike, private servers won’t be overloaded. Companies can also back up data by duplicating it to the cloud. This ensures that, in the event of a disaster or computing failure, business operations will not be interrupted.
While a hybrid cloud architecture may offer myriad business benefits, they can be challenging for an in-house IT team to manage. Cloud infrastructure services, also known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), allow third-party cloud vendors to access and maintain cloud resources.
Managed cloud service providers offer powerful storage, networking technology and servers to meet the needs of clients. They also provide comprehensivemanagement of hybrid cloud environments, which include on-premises data centers and public and private clouds.
Cloud infrastructure services are extensively automated and scalable, letting clients purchase resources on an as-needed basis. Applications, data, runtime, middleware and operating systems are often managed by a service. The cloud vendor is typically responsible for storage, networking and virtualization.
Hybrid infrastructure monitoring is the process of evaluating and managing cloud-based and physical infrastructure, ensuring optimization of performance. Infrastructure monitoring can also provide a comprehensive overview of a hybrid network from a security perspective. Managed cloud services can include monitoring tools across business applications, platforms (databases, middleware, virtualization and operating systems) and physical infrastructure such as servers, storage and networks. These monitoring tools allow for the accurate measurement of service delivery, giving IT teams visibility into an infrastructure that continuously fluctuates between scaling up and down.
Another aspect of hybrid infrastructure monitoring is IT service management (ITSM), which acts as a process management platform. ITSM offers a centralized service and a service request management catalog that provides a unified, single point of entry for the infrastructure.
Manual monitoring and management are not adequate for supporting a hybrid cloud architecture. Managed hybrid infrastructure services provide comprehensive automation, orchestration architecture and repeatable frameworks designed to cover the hybrid environment’s lifecycle. Examples of service automations include:
- IT service support process automation: This type of IT support automates common IT system management (ITSM) processes and connects to infrastructure components and business systems. This layer optimizes service levels and process compliance, allowing for cross-functional efficiencies and an improved experience when end users and businesses interact with IT.
- IT operations automation: This type of automation operates as either monitoring-level or task automation. It manages independent infrastructure elements and provides request fulfillment for discrete components. As the footprint of infrastructure elements increases, overarching workload orchestration is gradually rolled out through dynamic integrations between various automated tasks and ITSM.
- Provisioning and release automation: This automation enables service efficiency and addresses multiple infrastructure support components such as requests, development, provisioning and operations, in addition to managing configuration and compliance.
Overall, managed hybrid infrastructure services can simplify a complex hybrid cloud deployment by providing valuable expertise, oversight and automation. For enterprises with lean IT teams that lack expertise in all of the aspects of a hybrid cloud environment, managed and automated hybrid infrastructure services can be a worthwhile investment.