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Hybrid Cloud – Pitfalls and Mitigation

It has taken some years to get there, but cloud computing has now gone mainstream. Enterprises are building private clouds and subscribing to public clouds. Cloud has reached the phase where enterprises no longer view cloud computing as technology hype but as a platform that can improve the agility and competitiveness of their business and give them a competitive advantage.  

However, a much greater value of cloud computing can be unleashed when enterprises connect their private cloud to the public cloud. This effectively creates a hybrid cloud environment where enterprises can “cloud burst” their computational workloads into the public cloud when they experience a spike in their computational demand, and scale back from the public cloud when demand eases. This clear “on demand” expansion and reduction in cost of public cloud subscription when needed shows that hybrid cloud provides enterprises with the combined benefits of public and private clouds.

Pitfalls

While the benefits of hybrid cloud are credible and many, there are also several potential pitfalls that enterprises should beware of when they embark on creating their hybrid cloud. These pitfalls include:

  • Data sovereignty – when data flows from private to public cloud, enterprises may breach data sovereignty laws when the data in public cloud moves out of a country’s borders. Multiple service locations expose enterprises to unforeseen jurisdictions.
  • Data management – constant movement of data between the private cloud and multiple public clouds many add to the complexity of managing and tracking the location of data.
  • Cost of data mobility between clouds can be substantial when moving large amount of data between clouds.
  • Replication of confidential data between clouds exposes enterprises to potential data security risks.
  • Operational errors can occur even with ISO27001 security standards-compliant public cloud service providers.
  • Public cloud services provider may shut down their services giving insufficient time window for enterprises to migrate their data (e.g. Nirvanix).
  • Enterprises may lack certainty in legal or technical recourses available for lost data in public cloud.
  • Terminating a public cloud contract may not be easy for enterprises that are deeply entrenched in utilizing the service provider’s public cloud services. This is especially so when public cloud providers hold their data hostage.

Mitigation

An effective way to mitigate these risks is to setup a storage array owned by the enterprise near the public cloud. There has been a growing trend among data center co-location hosting facilities players providing cloud linking services. These facilities provide high speed, low latency links to multiple public cloud providers. Enterprises can locate their storage array in these facilities and connect their storage array to the public clouds.

In addition, by connecting the storage array to their on premise private cloud and thereby setting up a hybrid cloud environment, enterprises will benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud without sacrificing on the level of security that private cloud brings to their data.

Benefits of this setup include:

  • The enterprise’s data never leaves their hardware assets as they own the storage array in the data center hosting facility near the public clouds.
  • The enterprise will not be held ransom by cloud providers locking their data.
  • There is no requirement for costly and tedious migration of data out of public cloud.
  • It enables enterprises to migrate their workloads between multiple public clouds without moving their data residing in their private storage array.
  • The location of the data is determined.
  • Enterprises retain full control of their sensitive data.

Conclusion

Hybrid cloud has the potential to provide enterprises with unprecedented level of flexibility and scalability for their computational requirements.  Enterprises with successful hybrid cloud deployments recognize that the ability to manage and provide high mobility for their data is an important ingredient in setting up a successful hybrid cloud. Enterprises can setup a hybrid cloud without the risks associated when they retain full control of their data.

 

About the Author

This article was contributed by Kelvin Lim, APAC Cloud Architecture Team Lead at NetApp, a board member of the ACCA. Tell us your thoughts – write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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