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Hybrid Cloud

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Why Hybrid Cloud Is Tough to Manage By @DerekCollison | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

Each environment brings with it its own unique tools for deployment, management and monitoring

We've now entered the proclaimed "Year of the Hybrid Cloud," during which more than 65 percent of enterprise IT organizations say they will commit to hybrid cloud technologies, according to IDC FutureScape for Cloud. Hybrid cloud is attractive because organizations believe they can achieve greater levels of scalability and cost-effectiveness by using a combination of in-house IT resources and public cloud environments tailored to their unique needs.

But it's important for enterprises to understand that this new approach to IT architecture presents several significant management problems. In fact, the hybrid cloud can result in greater IT complexity and cost since each environment brings with it its own unique tools for deployment, management and monitoring, and companies will have to hire more employees who specialize in each type of cloud technology.

Let's take a look at the top five reasons why moving to the hybrid cloud presents such a challenge, and how you may be able overcome some of these roadblocks.

1. Capabilities Between Clouds Are Different
When you're looking to move some of your IT resources off premise and need to select a cloud vendor, or two perhaps, there's really no easy way to compare the offerings on the market today. Some cloud providers bundle compute resources, storage and network-related functionality. Others offer these a la carte. Pricing is different - sometimes by memory or gigabyte, paying either as you consume the resources, or for a tier of service that encompasses the estimated amount of resources you'll need. Even the way you interface with the cloud will be different from provider to provider.

While there are websites where you can attempt to pull together pricing and offerings from the various vendors, it still is tough to do an apple-to-apple comparison, given the differences mentioned above.

2. Headcount Explosion
The IT staff you have in-house isn't likely to be familiar with the various cloud solutions on the market. Since no cloud offering is the same, someone you hire to manage Amazon Web Services (AWS) won't likely have the broad expertise to work with Google Compute Engine (GCE) or cloud platforms from other vendors. You'll need specialists who have an understanding of what you get with each cloud offering, how to interface with it and what's the best way to manage it. Because of this specialization, your company could see its employee ranks swell dramatically just to move some resources to a public cloud provider, bringing along with it increased headcount costs that offsets the benefits by moving from capex to opex, as promised by the cloud model.

To stem this headcount explosion, you will need to find a way to automate the interaction with multiple cloud offerings so that your existing hiring and training investments will pay off, regardless of the resources you use.

3. Lack of Flexibility in Deploying and Managing Apps
Each cloud service provider has its own tools that enable you to deploy and manage apps, which are different from the systems you'd use in-house to manage on-premise IT resources. For the most part, it's difficult to try to integrate the various tools so you can cohesively manage all your resources from a single location.

Ideally, you would want to have a deployment API or some other capability that enables you to manage the resources in the same way, whether they're on premise or off. Here is where you could benefit from a hybrid cloud operating system (HCOS). Much like an operating system on a computer enables users to seamlessly work with a variety of compute resources, a HCOS is software that comprises the management plane, the control plane, and the runtime environment in a single, policy governed platform, to utilize resources from multiple cloud providers in a frictionless, and cost-effective way.

4. Impermeable Management and Control Boundaries
Related to the lack of flexibility that comes from each system having its own tools is the inability to permeate the boundaries set up by each cloud provider, and consistently apply policy across all resources.

You need a system that allows you to pass through those boundaries at the management and control plane levels, which can manage the execution context across the vendor boundaries. Again, here an HCOS would help inject greater automation, eliminating the need to hire more employees to manually manage the processes.

5. Lack of Security Enforcement Across Resources
Because of the differences between clouds, you are not able to apply the same methods for securing your own data center to public cloud offerings. As a result, policy is applied differently to each resource and cannot be consistently enforced.

To enforce policy effectively, you must do so at the source. You need to be able to provide a layer of security that works the same for each cloud offering and then interfaces with those offerings in a way that enables you to apply policy right where the workloads are running.

By taking into account the challenges that arise when adopting a hybrid cloud strategy, and applying practical solutions to address them at the start, you will have a more successful deployment and be able to achieve the true, promised benefits of being able to leverage the best cloud resource for your varying needs.

More Stories By Derek Collison

Derek Collison, CEO and Founder at Apcera, is a recognized leader in large-scale distributed systems and cloud platforms. Before founding Apcera, he designed and architected the industry’s first open PaaS, Cloud Foundry, for VMware. Prior to that, he co-founded the AJAX APIs group at Google, and designed and implemented a wide range of messaging products, including Rendezvous and EMS, at TIBCO Software.

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