Sometimes, the Cloud is Not Enough

With all of the hype surrounding cloud nowadays, it's easy to get a bad case of tunnel vision while researching infrastructure platforms for your business. Many businesses focus so much on cloud that they sacrifice the optimum environment for the sake of using the cloud. In this blog post, I am going to make a case for hybrid cloud -- which is a fancy term for having the flexibility and choice to use both physical and virtual servers in one environment, and manage them through one, unified interface.

So You Say Hybrid Cloud, Ehh?

Yes, indeed. This is the natural evolution of infrastructure. Think about it like this:

Hybrid Cloud is not a product, but an operations model. Many of the various IT tools you use have different requirements. For instance, the average relational database can only work vertically (or using only one server). Individual servers have limits on how much resources they can provide and because of this the overhead found in cloud-based systems is a needless drag on the database's performance. It would be better served on a dedicated server. Your web server, on the other-hand, can scale horizontally (or across multiple servers) and its workload fluctuates throughout the day. This is the perfect fit for using cloud. By connecting the two, database on a server, website in a cloud environment, we create a hybrid cloud.

Another example includes various jobs that run on a fixed schedule. These are most often referred to as cron jobs. Many businesses I have encountered, including SingleHop, have a number of intensive cron jobs that are running on a schedule to analyze some bit of information and then do something with it. We have all kinds of crons running, to count servers in our data centers and then generate our inventory feeds, to monitor customer servers for problems, to pool network usage information from switches and routers and more.

Cron jobs require significant amounts of resources and are constantly running. In a cloud environment, these resource intensive tasks would cost a great deal of money and would greedily steal resources from your other workloads. So we definitely want them running on beefy bare metal servers. This ensures a low fixed cost and gives them sufficient resources to get the job done.

There are countless examples going both ways. These are just a few of the ones that came to mind.

The Economics of Hybrid Are Usually Better

We believe that for most companies, a hybrid cloud strategy offers better overall economics than a pure cloud strategy. What I mean is that by optimizing things, clients will obtain a lower overall total cost of ownership (TCO). That is accomplished by optimizing resource utilization and maximizing the efficiency of your applications infrastructure by choosing the correct component for each major aspect of your application. And, usually, with room to grow.

How To Evaluate If Hybrid Is Right For You

Like all things, sometimes Hybrid is too much. It’s not right for everyone. To help you figure out if this is worth exploring, just ask yourself these questions. If you answer yes to any of them, then it’s at least worth looking into:

  • Are you trying to accomplish multiple goals for an application or website? Examples include scalability and security, or compliance and flexibility.
  • Does your website or application consist of multiple components? Examples include a front-end, back-end, relational database, non-relational database.
  • Do you operate multiple commercial applications for your business that have different requirements and needs?

Answering yes to any of these means you should at least evaluate the idea of hybrid cloud.