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What is hybrid cloud management?

The hybrid cloud computing market is experiencing rapid growth. In 2023, the global market size reached US$ 125.1 billion and is projected to expand to US$ 558.6 billion by 2032, with a notable Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.5% from 2024 to 2032.

A hybrid cloud integrates both private and public cloud systems, offering a balanced solution. Organizations can maintain control and security over their private infrastructure while leveraging the scalability and cost-effectiveness of public clouds. According to the IBM Transformation Index: State of Cloud, more than 77% of businesses and IT professionals have adopted a hybrid cloud approach. In this article, we define hybrid cloud management, explore its challenges and benefits, and discuss strategies for effective implementation. Additionally, we delve into tools, use cases, and future trends in hybrid cloud management to help your business make decisions about your cloud infrastructure.

What is a hybrid cloud?

A hybrid cloud refers to a blended computing environment utilizing a mix of resources across public clouds, private clouds, and on-premises data centers or edge locations. This approach accommodates diverse computing needs, leveraging the strengths of different environments. Organizations opt for hybrid cloud setups to optimize costs, mitigate risks, and facilitate digital transformation initiatives.

Hybrid vs multicloud model

Integrating hybrid cloud with multicloud is common in enterprise settings, where multicloud involves utilizing cloud services from multiple providers. Hybrid multicloud safeguards against dependence on a single vendor, promoting flexibility and cost optimization.

Hybrid multicloud environments are essential for supporting microservices, a cloud-native software development approach characterized by small, independent services communicating via APIs. Unlike traditional monolithic systems, microservices enable DevOps teams to manage services individually, streamlining development, testing, and cloud deployment processes.

What is hybrid cloud management?

Hybrid cloud management (HCM) involves overseeing an organization’s infrastructure deployments and services, both on-premises and off-premises. It aids in designing, deploying, and managing IT infrastructure across various environments such as clouds, data centers, containers, virtual machines (VMs), and hardware platforms. Typically facilitated by software, HCM integrates both on- and off-premises infrastructure into a unified management platform, empowering administrators to monitor and regulate resources effectively.

How does a hybrid cloud work?

Hybrid clouds merge resources and services from multiple computing environments, requiring seamless integration, orchestration, and coordination for swift information sharing, shifting, and synchronization. Effective hybrid cloud networking is vital for seamless deployment, typically achieved through local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), virtual private networks (VPNs), and application programming interfaces (APIs).

Hybrid cloud architectures abstract and aggregate resources by utilizing virtualization, containerization, and software-defined networking and storage technologies. Dedicated management software facilitates resource allocation and on-demand provisioning across environments, similar to other cloud computing models.

Challenges in implementing hybrid cloud management

As organizations increasingly adopt hybrid IT models, they face a host of complex challenges:

Security maintenance

Implementing a hybrid cloud involves transferring sensitive data and migrating workloads across diverse environments, enlarging the security attack surface and heightening the risk of data exposure. Cloud misconfigurations further exacerbate these risks, potentially creating security loopholes and increasing vulnerability to cyber threats and data breaches.

Data management

Improper data handling in hybrid cloud environments can lead to security vulnerabilities and increased costs. Encrypting All data traffic during transit is crucial for maintaining security. Strategically placing data in appropriate environments helps avoid unnecessary transfers and associated fees, such as cloud network and egress charges. Hosting necessary workloads in public cloud storage is ideal to minimize data movement and mitigate cost spikes.

Monitoring and visibility

The complexity of hybrid setups makes it challenging for teams to effectively monitor and oversee operations. This lack of visibility impedes the ability to anticipate security threats and leads to data fragmentation, hindering the extraction of valuable insights crucial for informed decision-making. Without adequate oversight, organizations may struggle with cloud sprawl, resulting in inefficiencies and unnecessary expenditures.

Access management complexity

Authentication and authorization complexities pose significant security challenges in hybrid cloud setups. Organizations should implement centralized access protocols for both private and public cloud environments. Utilizing identity and access management tools and single sign-on capabilities streamlines access control. Grant permissions judiciously to simplify access management processes and minimize the risk of configuration errors and compliance gaps.

Advantages of hybrid cloud management

Key advantages of hybrid cloud models include the following:

Enhanced flexibility

Companies dealing with diverse data types across varied environments can seamlessly adjust their infrastructure. By embracing a hybrid cloud approach, organizations can harness both traditional systems and cutting-edge cloud technology without committing entirely to a single vendor. This flexibility allows for the migration of workloads between traditional infrastructure and public cloud environments as needed.

Effective cost management

Private clouds require substantial capital investment and fixed costs for data center infrastructure ownership and operation. On the contrary, public cloud resources are often deemed more cost-effective due to their variable and operational expense structure. With hybrid cloud deployment, businesses can choose the environment that offers optimal security, reliability, and cost-efficiency for running their workloads.

Agility and scalability

Hybrid cloud environments provide a broader spectrum of resource options than on-premises data centers. This enables easier provisioning, deployment, and scalability of resources to accommodate fluctuating demand levels. In scenarios where local data center and private cloud capacities are exceeded, organizations can seamlessly transition applications to the public cloud for additional scale and capacity.

Resilience and interoperability

Hybrid cloud setups allow businesses to redundantly run workloads across both private and public environments. Furthermore, components of a workload can operate in tandem across these environments, facilitating interoperability and data sharing.

Compliance

Industries subject to compliance and stringent regulations often face constraints regarding data residency. Hybrid cloud models offer a solution by enabling organizations to maintain sensitive data within private environments while also operating workloads in the cloud. This flexibility ensures compliance with regulatory requirements while leveraging the cloud elasticity for improved efficiency.

Strategies for hybrid cloud management

Before delving into the technical aspects of implementing a unified hybrid cloud management platform, businesses must first develop a comprehensive hybrid cloud management strategy. While strategies may vary depending on unique business objectives, here are key steps to consider:

1. Define clear policies and roles

Establish well-defined policies, roles, and responsibilities for team members across the hybrid cloud ecosystem to ensure efficient management and coordination.

2. Identify and place workloads

Identify workloads and determine their suitable placement, whether in private or public cloud environments. Consider leveraging cloud-native, microservices-based technologies to enhance workload performance where applicable.

3. Review the cloud provider’s SLAs

Thoroughly review cloud service level agreements (SLAs), paying particular attention to conditions and guarantees regarding system uptime, latency, and data availability. Misaligned SLAs can adversely affect deal pricing and quality of service delivery.

4. Implement a holistic security approach

Develop a holistic zero-trust security management approach to ensure consistent security, compliance, and regulation strategies across on-premises, private cloud, and public cloud environments. Data security remains the responsibility of the data owner, necessitating end-to-end consistency in security measures.

Use cases for hybrid cloud management

Before integrating a hybrid cloud infrastructure, understand different use cases and their advantages, disadvantages, and potential remedies. This evaluation will ensure alignment with your organization’s IT and business requirements. Here are several hybrid cloud use cases:

  • Digital transformation: Many enterprises seek to modernize their IT infrastructure through public cloud adoption. However, constraints such as legacy applications or compliance obligations may allow the retention of a private data center. Hybrid cloud solutions facilitate migrating select IT components to the cloud while maintaining critical on-premises applications.

  • Application migration: Hybrid clouds offer secure and efficient migration pathways, allowing organizations to leverage optimal cloud environments based on workload characteristics. While newer applications seamlessly transition, older legacy applications may pose challenges during migration.

  • Development and testing: Public cloud environments streamline application development and testing processes by eliminating the need for costly on-premises hardware setups. Developers commonly utilize cloud services for project hosting, resulting in boosted efficiency and reduced expenses.

  • Cloud bursting: Hybrid clouds offer scalability for fluctuating workloads, particularly useful for scenarios involving sudden spikes in demand or seasonal surges. However, effective cloud bursting execution is crucial to mitigate potential latency issues associated with data movement.

  • Backup and disaster recovery: Hybrid cloud architectures facilitate seamless replication of on-premises workloads and data backup in the cloud. In the event of a data center disruption, workloads seamlessly transition to the cloud environment, leveraging on-demand resources.

  • AI and machine learning: The development of expansive AI models on-premises requires significant costs and expertise. Hybrid cloud configurations offer a solution by leveraging technological advancements and optimizing hardware costs. Nonetheless, deploying AI workloads via public cloud services introduces new security, privacy, and data management considerations.

  • Edge computing: Integrating edge computing into hybrid cloud environments improves the ability to execute data-intensive tasks closer to the source, reducing latency and enhancing data protection. However, ensuring security in distributed setups may necessitate the adoption of zero-trust architectures and additional management methodologies.

Tools for hybrid cloud management

Cloud management tools are critical in centralizing the deployment and administration of data, applications, and workloads across hybrid architectures. Here, we outline the key tools and services designed for seamless hybrid cloud management:

  1. Next-Generation hybrid cloud frameworks Azure Stack, Azure Arc, AWS Outposts, and Google Cloud Anthos represent the forefront of hybrid cloud framework technology, offering the technical foundation to seamlessly manage and orchestrate workloads across on-premises and public cloud environments…

  2. Conventional management platforms VMware Cloud Foundation and Cisco Intersight offer robust solutions for managing hybrid cloud environments.

  3. Hybrid Kubernetes management services Services like Elastic Kubernetes Service Anywhere enable efficient management of workloads across private infrastructure utilizing Amazon’s managed Kubernetes service.

  4. Centralized hybrid cloud management tools CloudBolt, Embotics, Flexera Cloud Management Platform, IBM Turbonomic, Morpheus Data, Nutanix Cloud Manager Cost Governance (formerly Beam), and Scalr provide centralized control over on-premises and cloud-based resources, offering features such as cost monitoring, performance optimization, security, reporting, and analytics.

  5. Infrastructure-as-Code tools Ansible, Chef, HashiCorp’s Terraform, Puppet, and Salt empower users with hybrid cloud management capabilities, allowing for streamlined deployment and configuration across diverse environments.

  6. Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) tools: Vendors like Microsoft and Palo Alto Networks offer cloud security posture management tools, automating risk assessment and compliance monitoring to ensure the continuous security of cloud-based systems.

Selecting the right combination of tools is crucial for organizations utilizing hybrid cloud environments. Each tool brings unique capabilities to the table, catering to specific requirements and improving overall efficiency and security in hybrid cloud management.

Get started on your hybrid multi-cloud strategy with DigitalOcean

Embarking on a hybrid multi-cloud strategy requires careful consideration of the strengths and weaknesses offered by different cloud providers. By integrating various providers alongside DigitalOcean’s scalable and flexible platform, businesses can effectively leverage the unique advantages of each.

DigitalOcean stands out for its developer-centric approach, cost-efficiency, global presence, and thriving ecosystem, making it an ideal choice for firms adopting a multi-cloud approach. Utilizing DigitalOcean within a hybrid cloud architecture enables organizations to enjoy more flexibility, risk mitigation, cost optimization, and superior performance, fostering resilience and innovation.

This strategy is also a proactive measure to efficiently manage computing resources and mitigate potential data loss or downtime. Small enterprises, in particular, stand to benefit from a hybrid cloud setup, allowing them to tailor services and expenses by selecting specialized cloud providers that align precisely with their needs. This approach may be preferable to relying solely on a single, larger cloud provider.

To explore DigitalOcean’s comprehensive suite of cloud services and discover how they can elevate your business operations, please take a closer look at our product suite here.

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