Consider how traffic flows differently during any time of day – think of what the designers of roads and bridges must consider to find the optimal way to get people from one location to another efficiently. With a successful strategy, there will be fewer traffic jams and everyone gets where they need without delay, and with an unsuccessful one there will be gridlock and chaos.
Likewise, the performance of mission-critical applications for the enterprise can make or break the digital service provided to both external and internal customers. When an application is slow or fails, most folks just click away to the competition or do another activity like updating their fantasy football lineup or online shopping.
Application performance comes with a trade-off, though. If you prepare your compute power for full capacity you might end up overspending, as you would undoubtedly have idle resources running up the bill for resources without realizing revenue. It would be better instead to scale the application based on demand. Conversely, there’s a potential downside to scaling – it could cost more than the benefit as on-demand pricing can be at a premium.
This is why a hybrid cloud strategy for application delivery is the way to go – it’s a right-fit approach ensuring that the resource components for each application get high performance and availability without overspending. You want your digital business objective to deliver value, and this means that your application architecture provides for a distributed environment of on-premises, private cloud, and public cloud options that performs at optimal levels without costing more than necessary.
Whether your enterprise applications and revenue-generating applications evolve from a monolithic, legacy system or are built from scratch, the goal is always to have options that fit your digital business objective.
Let’s explore the ways you can enable hybrid cloud initiatives for enterprise applications.
Data and Networking
Most applications require stores of data that can be static or dynamic in nature. Depending on the lifecycle development in place for your particular application, you’ll want to build in a step that decouples the storage from the application. The storage component can then be hosted in any location, and you can bargain for better rates for storage in some cases. A hybrid cloud strategy means hosting storage in an optimal location that could be closer to the consumers or set up as “on demand” for when you just need the storage for a short period of time.
Enterprise IT that supports hybrid cloud initiatives would be wise to have the ability to move storage to any location in a data center on-premises, either within a private cloud or on a public cloud provider site like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or Microsoft Azure. Application teams can then take advantage of any one of these resources without having to lock in a vendor. This also provides options for backup or recovery that could involve a cross-cloud strategy where data for one provider could be set up for redundancy in another provider space.
Networks that support a hybrid cloud application delivery model must be able to span from private network locations in a data center to virtual private networks in a public cloud. Each cloud provider has options for this kind of networking – AWS has virtual private clouds (VPCs) that connect to your on-premises private networks, GCP has Cloud VPN, and Azure has Azure VPN gateway.
User Identity and Permissions
For both application development and internal application access, the ability to seamlessly manage both user roles and access across the many potential hybrid cloud resources is critical. You don’t want to have authentication issues when passing data from one resource component to another for the delivery process.
When you decouple components for storage and processing of any kind, the different components must be able to “talk” to each other without a permission issue. The same goes for any additional integrated resources that serve as a configuration or delivery component of the application architecture. This can become a troubleshooting nightmare, especially if you have thousands of potential users both internally and externally.
Internal users might need more permissions and access to configure some aspects of the application delivery architecture. By contrast, external users access web applications as consumers, and it can be quite complex managing who sees what as well as which customer profile information gets passed from one component to another securely. Any hybrid cloud strategy needs to support user administration across the various resource components.
Typical hybrid cloud strategies have a robust identity access management (IAM) system to ideally maintain a single user identity that can be passed through to other systems. Organizations begin their user management with LDAP or Microsoft Active Directory (AD) services that are on-premises and then integrate with other IAM systems as needed to pass secure information to each component in the application delivery architecture.
Integration resources can be considered a “catch-all” for any system that integrates with the application development or delivery process. As mentioned earlier about decoupling storage from the application in more of the legacy, monolithic architecture, microservices that run in containerized environments can essentially decouple specific services and components of application processing into smaller pods of code. These pods can then be placed in a modular fashion anywhere in your hybrid cloud delivery strategy.
Enterprise developers typically have development and testing environments in public cloud environments where they test and run code before it goes to production. The ability to integrate with any configuration management system like Ansible, Chef, and Puppet in any cross-cloud scenario further advances a solid hybrid cloud strategy.
A final consideration is making sure you are able to set up performance monitoring across the hybrid cloud delivery architecture. This provides yet another way to make sure that as compute power is hosted anywhere in a hybrid cloud architecture, there’s also a way to find and fix issues before they impact end users. The savviest of architects include monitoring in any provision scenario instead of implementing it as more of an afterthought. It’s important to note, though, that there are trade-offs here as well. For example, you could have high-fidelity monitoring in place that has a high price tag but might not be as necessary for all the components of your application architecture. Keeping this and other potential pitfalls in mind is crucial.
CloudBolt Enables Hybrid Cloud for Application Delivery
As IT leaders recognize the need for hybrid cloud strategies to remain competitive, they also realize that zeroing in on a single platform to manage all the complexity will give them assurance for quality, control, and visibility so that performance is never sacrificed while innovating and becoming more efficient. This platform becomes their command center for success instead of having to manage so many different components, each with their own native user interfaces.
As we say at CloudBolt, “One view, many clouds.”