The Blueprint for a Hybrid Cloud Architecture

More and more organizations are combining public and private cloud technologies to create a hybrid cloud. That means they connect infrastructure hosted in a public cloud by a company like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to their infrastructure hosted on their private cloud platform. The infrastructures remain distinct but can communicate securely. As a result, organizations can keep their secure data in their own datacenter (on a private cloud) while running applications in the public cloud that call upon this data.

But what exactly makes up a hybrid cloud architecture? The basic components of hybrid cloud include public cloud components (namely your datacenter resources) and private cloud components (whatever the cloud provider offers).

The Internal Building Blocks of a Hybrid Cloud

Let’s first break down the internal components of your private cloud:

  • Compute
  • Memory
  • Storage
  • Network

These are common in any infrastructure but you manage them differently in the cloud.

From servers and virtualization to private cloud

Think of the evolution of managing these components on servers and then managing them on virtual machines (VMs). Even though virtualization brought more flexibility to how you manage these resources, virtual servers can sometimes sit idle, just like hardware servers. Over time, it became possible to dynamically allocate resources to VMs to make better use of them. But still, VMs don’t support the level of self-service that many organizations want today.

Enter the private cloud. While this is made up of typical infrastructure components – including RAM and CPU – it comes with control plane software. That’s how you allocate and manage all the components making up your private cloud infrastructure so you can make better use of your resources.

Containerization changes the game

The private cloud benefits from a development triggered by virtualization – containerization with software like Docker. Containers allow you to manage an application and all essential components in a single package. That makes it easier to deploy them across different environments (e.g., private and public clouds). In fact, you can do so without any concern about the underlying infrastructure or operating system.

Adding up the costs

Anyone who has stood up infrastructure won’t be surprised that it costs quite a bit to deploy a private cloud. In addition to the initial CapEx for hardware, you’ll be paying monthly to maintain the datacenter. And that monthly cost stays consistent, whether you’re using 5% or 100% of the datacenter.

Remember the control plane you’ll use to manage your private cloud? Since it plays such a critical role, you’ll need to make sure it’s reliable and that you’re always using the latest-and-greatest version of it.

The External Building Blocks of a Hybrid Cloud

When you sign up for a public cloud, you’re calling upon the compute, memory, and storage of the provider. Providers manage each of these as separate entities.

To get started with a public cloud provider, you manually allocate and manage resources, commissioning and decommissioning environments on an as-needed basis. You usually do this through the cloud provider’s web interface. Make no mistake – this is labor intensive. Then you’ll handle day-to-day management through a combination of the web interface and application programming interfaces (APIs). You could pay up-front for guaranteed resources to control your costs, but it defeats the purpose of tapping into on-demand resources and paying as you go.

Architecting the Hybrid Cloud

Now that you understand what goes into both a private and public cloud, let’s talk about a hybrid cloud. Simply put, this is when you connect your private and public clouds through a private network connection. Once connected, you should be able to manage both clouds as if they were a single resource pool.

This management and control layer is the true value of a hybrid cloud. It allows you to easily move workloads between clouds to keep costs in check and make the best use of your resources. Containers also make it easier to move and manage jobs and services in a hybrid cloud environment.

The public cloud provides software – managed by the platform layer – to manage your jobs and services. The platform layer makes it possible to abstract and orchestrate the software layer using components like networking and storage, and manage clusters, containers, and security. An agent running on each node of the hybrid cloud routes workloads to the appropriate node. Underneath it all – at the infrastructure layer – are the private and public cloud components.

To understand more about what goes into a hybrid architecture, check out the “Hybrid and Multicloud Solutions Report” we developed in collaboration with O’Reilly Media.