Having a Hybrid Cloud Management Strategy is Essential and Should not be an Afterthought

Hybrid cloud management is essential for optimum cloud performanceHybrid cloud management is essential for optimal cloud performance. As enterprises are building their private cloud services, they are also exposed to the bottoms-up pressure from their employees using services that run on public clouds. Therefore they are practically forced into what’s called, “hybrid cloud management” where some services that the IT department manages run on their corporate private clouds where as some of the other services are powered by the public clouds. This hybrid cloud architecture has challenges as well as some advantages as long as the hybrid cloud management is appropriately planned and implemented.

Hybrid clouds have inherent challenges, by definition, since part of the infrastructure is in public infrastructure and therefore not under the direct control of the IT team of the enterprise. The hybrid cloud infrastructure might manifest itself as segregation of services, i.e. some services running on the private cloud and some others running on the public cloud, or sometimes, it can manifest itself in more of an interconnected way where part of the same service may be running on the private cloud and other parts of the same service may be running on the public cloud. In either case, the hybrid cloud will live on a two-legged stool, one leg in the public and one leg in the private infrastructure. In terms of compute, storage and access resources, this duality is a challenge that needs to be planned and managed properly. 

To paint a more concrete example, imagine a service that is based on private cloud infrastructure but also has some API calls to some external services that run on the public cloud. Imagine a customer or product data base service leveraging a third-party, big-data analysis service. The performance of the overall service will be limited by the worst performing leg of the hybrid cloud, one of which is not managed by the enterprise IT team, at least in the traditional sense of hybrid cloud infrastructures.

Of course, the same reasons that create these potential problems, are also the root of the benefits of the hybrid cloud infrastructure to begin with, especially, when the hybrid cloud management is correctly implemented. The keyword is – diversity. The diversity in the cloud infrastructure in general will add redundancy for the services. It also can create an on-demand type scale whereby the need for a build-out to support the peak demand is avoided and the excess load can be served by the public leg of the hybrid cloud.

The weakest link in the hybrid cloud management puzzle is usually the IP connectivity within and between the clouds. Both the WAN connectivities from the branches, as well as the WAN connectivity from the private cloud to the public cloud, can create challenges as all of the unavoidable performance problems of WAN links will have an immediate impact on the performance of the cloud services. Therefore, hybrid cloud management heavily relies on an agile WAN infrastructure management.

Here again, the keyword is diversity. The WAN links at the branch offices should be designed with knowledge that they will be communicating with both the private cloud and public cloud. The traffic flow can be architected to have all IP traffic, including the traffic for the public cloud, go through the private hub and then branch out to the public Internet. This has advantages of having all traffic funneled through the central data center and therefore various IP-related services can be layered on. One example is traffic classification and filtering, whereby certain traffic in and out of some public cloud services can be filtered at the corporate data center. Of course, the downside of this setup is the fact that the public Internet traffic can’t be offloaded from the main data center WAN network and may have higher cost and performance consequences. 

On the other end of the spectrum, and more commonly used today, the branch offices can access the public cloud services directly over their WAN links without going through the corporate data center. This of course means less control and no central control over the IP traffic in and out of the public cloud or public Internet in general. The optimal solution is something in between, where the public cloud traffic can be selectively funneled through the central data center depending on the processing required on that traffic.

Another level of diversity that needs to be considered is the diversity in the WAN connections, especially at the branch offices. It is common to have a point-to-point private network as well as a broadband line for public Internet access. However, by making use of modern WAN Orchestration appliances, enterprises can virtualize their WAN setups and centrally manage the branch WANs. In effect, if the WAN orchestration device is equipped with Broadband Bonding technology, various diverse ISP WAN links and private point-to-point lines can be merged into a single virtual IP pipe that can be sliced into virtual IP tunnels that match the flows. This type of virtualized WAN also adds seamless reliability in the scenario of WAN outages, whereby the IP sessions can be kept alive without losing data integrity when some of the WAN links fail.

Finally, it is important to design an architecture that leverages the service diversity that can be built with the hybrid cloud architectures both in terms of compute and storage. Many of the cloud services can be set up in such a way that if the primary private cloud has any downtime, the public cloud failover service can sustain operations.

In building your hybrid cloud management strategy, diversity is the key term to keep in mind. As long as an increase in reliability is on top of your list of design criteria, your hybrid cloud will serve you well.

Cahit Akin, CEO, Mushroom Networks, Inc.

Mushroom Networks is the provider of SD-WAN (Software Defined WAN) and NFV solutions capable of Broadband Bonding that enables self-healing WAN networks that route around network problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss.



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