78% of companies today adopt the hybrid strategy to cloud combining on-premise infrastructure and public cloud. Although cloud adoption continues to rise, still many businesses keep some of their sensitive data and regulated applications on-premises. What are the benefits of hybrid cloud? How can you implement hybrid cloud in your organization avoiding common pitfalls? And what are some of the best practices and popular tools & services that can help you do that? Let’s discover together.
How you can benefit from hybrid cloud
In 2020, the global hybrid cloud market was estimated at $52B and is predicted to reach $145B in 2026, according to Statista. In the age of IoT, big data analytics, AI, hybrid cloud is a great option for companies in industries like healthcare or banking. They must adhere to strict data privacy regulations while also using sophisticated algorithms powered by AI to derive actionable insights from huge masses of unstructured data.
Not only is hybrid cloud applicable for businesses in highly-regulated industries but also it is the best option for any start-up or an enterprise that plans a step-by step cloud migration. A staggering 72% of respondents report having had to bring applications back on-premises after migrating them to a public cloud. 41% of companies report that they migrated applications to the cloud that should have stayed on-premises. Before rushing into moving all your apps and data to the cloud, it is important to analyze and check whether it is feasible, profitable, and safe. Hybrid cloud strategy allows you to undertake a phased approach to cloud adoption so that you can assess all the pros and cons of each option, avoiding moving apps back on-premises.
Also, hybrid cloud strategy allows you to save costs on things that go together with other cloud services but you actually don’t need them or you can substitute them with a more cost-effective on-premise solution.
You can use hybrid cloud for different purposes:
- Compute capabilities
- Storage capabilities
- Database capabilities
- Ability to move workloads between private and public cloud
- Possibility to distribute workloads between different public and private environments
Benefits of using hybrid cloud:
- Security: Protect your sensitive data and networks and take control of your security settings.
- Faster innovations: Modernize faster and adopt advanced technologies easily leveraging the private & public cloud or edge.
- Cost-efficiency: Balance between inflexible on-premise resources and flexible but premium-priced cloud resources and find your efficient “private to public” ratio that could vary depending on the demand in terms of capacity and capability.
- No vendor-lock-in: Improve visibility into workloads, provide control over where they run, and easily move your workloads to on-premises should the need arise.
- Flexibility: Ensure that your solution grows and changes as your needs do and lets you respond quickly to market changes and customer demands.
Best practices for implementing hybrid cloud
Assess your resources
First, you need to conduct a thorough analysis of your apps, data, and workloads. Mission-critical apps that require the most control and monitoring should be hosted in your private cloud. Other apps can be migrated to the cloud. Also, it is important to have an efficient cloud transformation strategy. There are various types of approaches to migrating legacy applications to the cloud. Taking into account classifications by AWS, Oracle, Google, and Forrester, here at N-iX, we have come up with 6 key application transformation methods. Before migrating apps, you should consider the application complexity, risks, costs/effort to migration, and ROI. If none of these methods suits, you will need to replace your existing app with services from a SaaS cloud provider or build a new cloud solution from scratch.
- Re-host (lift and shift)
- Re-platform (lift, tinker and shift)
- Drop and shop
Protect your data
Additionally, you should take care of your data. All sensitive information should be encrypted and stored on-premises. The data that can be exposed to the cloud should be also protected, and companies should analyze it to drive insights. Cloud enables big data processing and makes machine learning at a large scale efficient. By putting the right technology in place, you can shape actionable models from existing data to predict possible scenarios and determine which actions will bring the best results. Also, it is very important to back up your data in the cloud, because cloud providers can experience outages too. Top cloud vendors offer built-in backup and recovery solutions.
Prepare your architecture
Businesses that are moving to hybrid cloud should prepare the architecture of their apps for migration. If you decide to build a solution in the cloud from scratch, you also need to think about its architecture: microservices vs monolith. Compared to traditional monolithic apps, cloud-native applications are easier to manage and maintain. They comprise individual microservices that can be improved incrementally to continuously add new and improved application features.
Usually, legacy IT architecture is a complex system with many duplicated systems, inconsistent data, and inefficient processes. The complexity of the current IT architecture poses one of the major risks of moving to the cloud. It slows the migration to the cloud.
To help our clients make it fit for the cloud, N-iX cloud experts conduct a root cause analysis, resolve tech debt, figure out interdependent parts, and create profound documentation. The main goal is to make the architecture agile, secure, scalable, and cost-efficient.
Infrastructure as code (IaC) is a key enabler of efficient migration of legacy systems to the cloud. Thanks to it, you can automatically manage and provision computers and networks (physical and/or virtual) through scripts instead of manually configuring them.
Choose the cloud provider(s)
Major cloud vendors such as AWS, Azure, GCP, offer comprehensive tools for hybrid cloud. Azure has always been the go-to option for hybrid deployments amongst the big three with its well-established Azure Stack. Azure Stack makes it easy for companies to run Azure applications from the public Azure cloud while leveraging data hosted on-premises, as well as running the same services from the public Azure cloud on the Azure Stack platform. Microsoft Hybrid Cloud (Azure Stack + Microsoft Azure Public Cloud) is a good fit for companies who have significant investment in Microsoft’s virtual ecosystem.
In 2018, Google introduced hybrid cloud support. It has dramatically increased its focus on hybrid and multi-cloud workloads using Anthos, allowing users to manage workloads on GCP and Google Kubernetes Engine.
In recent years, AWS has also significantly developed its hybrid cloud direction with the solution such as VMware and Outposts. With AWS VPN, you can create IPsec Site-to-Site VPN tunnels from an Amazon VPC to on-premise customer gateway enabling a hybrid environment. AWS Direct Connect (DX) allows you to establish dedicated connections from on-premises to AWS. AWS Systems Manager offers a standard-instances tier and an advanced-instances tier for servers and VMs in your hybrid environment. The standard-instances tier enables you to register a maximum of 1,000 on-premise servers or VMs per AWS account per AWS Region. Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts allow you to use your eligible software licenses from vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle on Amazon EC2, so that you get the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of using your own licenses, but with the simplicity of AWS.
You can choose the services of any cloud provider to suit your business needs or combine services from several providers. Multicloud is a choice of many companies as it gives a certain degree of freedom and flexibility, minimizing the risk of vendor lock-in.
Also, you can choose to build a custom hybrid solution to suit your specific business needs. Ready-made hybrid solutions that are offered by cloud providers are designed to cover a variety of business cases. But if you are sure that you won’t utilize all the tools and services to the full, you can develop your own solution that will be more cost-effective and specifically tailored to your case.
Adopt hybrid cloud step by step
If you want to succeed with hybrid cloud, don’t migrate all of your apps at once, make it in phases. Hybrid cloud allows for it. Start with one or two apps as pilot projects to understand all the challenges and costs behind them. It is a good strategy to begin with migrating non-critical apps and services.
When you combine your own infrastructure and public cloud services in one environment, you need to set up seamless interaction between them to avoid latency, security issues, outages, etc. There are different tools that help manage heterogeneous environments and ensure high visibility and control. But it’s one thing to have the tools you need at hand for managing data and apps in the hybrid cloud. And major cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, GCP offer them in abundance. But it is another thing to configure them correctly and be able to drive valuable insights. Experienced DevOps engineers can orchestrate interoperability between heterogeneous environments, make necessary configurations, and ensure the seamless performance of your data and apps in the hybrid cloud.
Plan for security
You need to adopt the DevSecOps approach and implement security at every stage of your hybrid cloud adoption. You should synchronize security measures across heterogeneous environments and use efficient tools for it. Popular cloud providers such as Azure, AWS, GCP provide security as a service. They ensure that your physical assets are protected from unauthorized access. The majority of cloud vendors have strong portfolios of compliance offerings including ITAR, DISA, HIPAA, CJIS, FIPS, etc. They invest heavily in security to protect customers’ data from cyberthreats.
Also, they offer robust solutions to secure your data and information during cloud migration. However, you need to have experienced DevOps engineers and a security team who can make necessary configurations and ensure the long-term security of your data and apps in the hybrid cloud. Here are a few simple things about security in the cloud everyone should know:
- Encrypt data assets in transit and at rest;
- Leave sensitive data on-premises;
- Isolate individual workloads to minimize any damage an attacker could cause;
- Limit networking resources exposure with Firewalls;
- Make use of advanced technologies such as Big Data, AI, ML IoT, etc.;
- Avoid shadow IT;
- Implement necessary controls;
- Enable multi-factor authentication and set up user access policies;
- Maintain high security standards on the organizational level;
- Comply with security best practices on the application level;
- Train others on how to maintain security in the cloud.
DevOps practices can help companies optimize their costs involved in software development, deployment, and maintenance. With the help of DevOps, you can assess what resources you are using, analyze what areas can be optimized and how to do it, monitor spending of IT costs, and investigate new services that will help you reduce costs and optimize your infrastructure usage even more.
If you don’t know how to optimize your costs, find a partner who can help you with hybrid cloud cost optimization. There are a lot of best practices for hybrid cloud cost optimization. Here we highlight the most common ones:
- Reduce infrastructure usage in the areas where it can be reduced;
- Start using third-party services that allow you to reduce operational overhead and save costs;
- Automate the CI/CD process and provisioning of IT infrastructure;
- Delete underutilized instances;
- Rightsize your workloads;
- Resize resources if they are not in use;
- Take advantage of autoscaling;
- Move infrequently accessed storage to cheaper tiers;
- Set alerts for crossing predetermined spend thresholds;
- Explore whether hosting in a different region could reduce costs;
- Invest in reserved instances;
- Leverage spot instances for serverless and parts that don’t require high availability;
- Make use of discounts.
Monitor your hybrid cloud
To ensure solid application performance, high availability, and low costs across heterogeneous infrastructures, you need to build a robust hybrid cloud monitoring strategy. Automation should play a key role in any hybrid cloud monitoring strategy. There are several best practices for effective hybrid cloud monitoring:
- Identify and track your KPIs (error rates (failed requests/total requests), application availability, latency, number of time-outs, throughput)
- Create operation dashboards
- Establish an alert threshold
- Integrate your monitoring system with management tools
- Implement Data Loss Prevention solutions to make sure the data is not leaving the security perimeter.
- Explore vendor’s native monitoring tool options
Featured case: Ensuring security, high portability, and reliability with hybrid cloud for Fluke Corporation
About the client
Fluke Corporation is a US-based company that manufactures, distributes, and services electronic test tools and software for measuring and condition monitoring. The company employs about 2,400 people and has distributor and manufacturer representative channels in more than 100 countries.
Fluke Corporation needed to create a highly portable solution that will comply with the best security standards, high performance, reliability, and cost-efficiency. It also should be easily deployable to all major operating systems on both cloud and customers’ data-centers.
N-iX team has conducted a thorough analysis and assessed all the possible options available on the market. Our specialists have helped the client develop a custom hybrid solution following the security by design approach.
N-iX experts have collaborated on the development of the Enterprise Integration System — Connect2Assets, formerly SCHAD Automatic Meter Reading. The system integrates with a variety of PLC/SCADA/Historian systems and establishes the reading of data points (tags, parameters). It can perform sophisticated aggregations on data streams and distribution of the data to CMMS systems and IoT Platforms. It helps intelligently monitor the equipment’s health by analyzing PLC/SCADA sensors that generate billions of conditions. Integrating real-time data into CMMS workflows allows teams to:
- Make better-informed maintenance decisions.
- Get a complete story of asset health.
- Enable condition-based maintenance.
- Eliminate production gaps and reduce unplanned downtime.
- Transform maintenance into a business value driver.
Connect2Assets is a hybrid solution, where data is gathered, aggregated, and downsampled on-premises. Further, relevant data is transmitted to AWS cloud, where it is further processed and stored at rest. CMMS systems use it for data analysis to improve and guide asset maintenance based on real-time asset data rather than a predefined calendar and decrease maintenance costs.
This solution was developed from scratch independently from the previous on-premise solution. It is based on cross-platform technologies (Java, PostgreSQL), web UI, and messaging technologies (MQTT). Microservices architecture and relational databases are implemented on-premises and on AWS cloud.
One of the advantage of Connect2Assets is that it doesn’t require the client to invest in additional technology and devices. The solution adapts to the client’s ecosystem and requires minimal adjustments on the client’s side.
How N-iX can help you implement hybrid cloud
- N-iX boasts an internal pool of 1,400+ experts.
- N-iX is trusted in the global tech market: the company has been listed among the top software development providers by Clutch, in the Global Outsourcing 100 by IAOP for 5 consecutive years, recognized by GSA UK 2019 Awards, included in top software development companies by GoodFirms.co, and others.
- N-iX partners with leading global companies such as Currencycloud, Globacap, Ratesetter, Fluke to help leverage all the benefits of cloud.
- N-iX is a Select AWS Consulting Partner, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, a Google Cloud Partner.
- We have profound cloud expertise and employ 300+ cloud engineers. Our cloud experts are certified by industry leaders.
- N-iX experts have proven experience working with such technologies as blockchain, computer vision, AI & ML, robotics which are essential in software development.
- We help businesses adopt hybrid cloud and make the most of it. Also, our expertise in cloud computing includes cloud-native services, on-premise-to-cloud migration, cloud-to-cloud migration as well as multicloud management.
- We offer professional DevOps services, including Cloud adoption (infrastructure set up, migration, optimization), building and streamlining CI/CD processes, security issues detection/prevention (DDOS & intrusion), firewall-as-a-service, and more.
- N-iX has broad data expertise to design different kinds of data solutions: Big Data / Data Warehouse / Data lake development, Business Intelligence, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, etc.
- N-iX has been named No. 72 on the 2020 CRN Fast Growth 150 List for the substantial growth and performance over the previous two years.
- N-iX is compliant with PCI DSS, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, and GDPR standards.