Stay healthy everyone! We can do pilots 100% offsite. Multiple options available. Learn more >
New Webcast Series! Get answers to common questions, see live demos and engage with experts. Learn more >
We're signing up new partners excited about OpenLegacy's legacy integration. Read the news! Learn more >

Blog

What is Hybrid Cloud? Architecture Best Practices For High Performing Organizations

Posted by OpenLegacy on May 20, 2020

Legacy modernization is a priority in today’s digital business environment. With rapid technological advancements, increased customer demand for digitized services, and the growing popularity of DevOps and agile approaches — rigid monolithic architectures are no longer sufficient.

What’s the solution? Companies have tried several different approaches to modernizing their existing legacy systems, but each one proved to be sub-optimal.

OpenLegacyDismantling and replacing legacy systems is time-consuming, tedious, and risky. Leaving them intact and adding layers of middleware to get the job done results in bloated code and often leads to complex maintenance issues. It’s also a huge roadblock preventing organizations from adopting modern DevOps practices.

Fortunately, significant advancements in IT technology introduced a new paradigm and paved the path for the Third Age of Modernization. Hybrid IT allows organizations to abstract the choice of the development environment and leverage the possibilities of microservices and cloud-native architecture to integrate their legacy systems.

Hybrid integration allows you to embrace technological innovations and deploy services in the cloud, as well as integrate the data between on-premise and cloud systems. This solves the problem of legacy modernization by allowing you to connect your existing IT infrastructure with modern systems and technologies, mobile and cloud applications, and efficiently develop and deploy digital services to meet the demands of your customers.

If you’re interested in learning how microservices and cloud-native architecture can help you overcome the legacy modernization challenge — download our free whitepaper called “Legacy Technology Got You Down? Try Microservices and Cloud-Native Architecture.”

What is hybrid cloud?

If we had to give a definition of hybrid cloud, we’d say that hybrid cloud is an IT architecture that includes multiple development environments. A hybrid cloud implies a certain level of workload portability, orchestration, and management integration across these environments to provide a flexible infrastructure for an organization’s application.

The integrated development environments in a hybrid cloud architecture may include:

  1. On-premise private clouds and applications and third-party public clouds
  2. Two or more private clouds
  3. Two or more public clouds

Regardless of the types of clouds that make up the hybrid cloud architecture, all hybrid clouds should offer the following capabilities:

  • Consolidation of IT resources from multiple environments
  • Scaling and quick provisioning of new resources
  • Facilitating the moving of resources between the environments
  • Incorporating a unified management tool
  • Orchestrating processes by relying on automation

Before we delve a bit deeper into hybrid cloud computing and hybrid cloud architecture, let’s take a closer look at how the three types of clouds differ from one another.

Private cloud

Private cloud implies that the entire cloud infrastructure is operated for a single organization. It can be deployed on-premises or provided by a cloud vendor, provided that your company controls access to the cloud and manages everything on it.

Developing a private cloud comes with some inherent challenges. With on-premise private clouds, the organization has to purchase all the necessary software, which can be quite resource-intensive. Another thing to consider is the speed of deployment — creating a private cloud takes quite a while, and you have to have an experienced IT professional on board to manage and maintain the infrastructure.

Scaling the capacity of the private cloud and adding new capabilities is also time-consuming and arduous. You’d either have to purchase and install new software or contact the vendor and request new capabilities. Either way, scaling a private cloud will take a while and you’d likely have to make a sizable upfront investment. This will also drastically increase your time to market, making the customers wait for weeks for new or upgraded features.

That said, a private cloud does offer one major benefit — the organization has complete control over the development environment and all the data it houses. This is often necessary if the organization handles sensitive data or operates in an industry with strict regulations.

Public cloud

Public clouds enable organizations to leverage computing, storage, and application resources from a third-party cloud provider using the Internet.

In this instance, the original cloud developer owns and manages the computing power and the resources, and maintains the infrastructure. Organizations can pay a fee to leverage those resources — either through monthly subscriptions or based on the usage of the public cloud.

The main appeal of public clouds is their cost-efficiency. Since someone else provides the infrastructure and is in charge of maintaining it, the organization utilizing public cloud services doesn’t have to worry about huge capital investments or maintenance costs. Instead, you only get charged for what you use. This frees up your IT staff’s time and allows them to focus on innovation rather than on constantly monitoring and maintaining the existing systems.

Hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud allows you to reap the benefits of both private and public clouds. When you properly integrate and orchestrate workloads between the two types of clouds, you can run certain applications and workloads in an on-premise private cloud, while simultaneously running more dynamic and temporary workloads on the public cloud.

With hybrid integration, you can even leverage the capabilities of the cloud and connect cloud-based applications and services to your existing legacy architecture. This enables you to embrace innovations and quickly deploy new digital services, without having to make any changes to your existing monolithic architecture or add new layers of complexity by employing middleware.

Hybrid cloud computing

The hybrid cloud computing model refers to leveraging resources from both private and public clouds. In a hybrid cloud computing environment, the service and data from both types of clouds are utilized to create a unified computing environment. 

One thing to note here is that not all companies that rely on both private and public clouds have a hybrid cloud. If various developers within the organization are leveraging the two types of clouds separately, and there is no integration between them, the applications, services, and data centers function separately. In that case, the organization is simply utilizing different types of clouds to satisfy different business needs. 

A hybrid cloud environment implies using private and public clouds in unison. It should also enable organizations to move workloads between the clouds when necessary. This is often necessary when there’s a sudden spike in demand for a private cloud application — with hybrid cloud computing, organizations can rely on additional public cloud capacity to accommodate the increasing demand.

Hybrid cloud architecture

Traditionally, hybrid cloud architectures involved connecting private and public cloud environments by relying on complex middleware. 

As we’ve mentioned, one of the main characteristics of hybrid clouds is the ability to move workloads between the environments. Moving huge amounts of resources in a traditional hybrid cloud architecture required extremely powerful middleware. This added a new layer of complexity and didn’t prove as effective as organizations had originally hoped. 

That’s why modern hybrid cloud architectures are structured a bit differently. Rather than connecting the two types of clouds, development teams nowadays focus on the portability of the app itself. 

With the rise of DevOps and agile project management, organizations today tend to favor breaking down the project into smaller, easily manageable units. Rather than developing entire systems for different business capabilities, developers can now leverage microservices and microservice-based APIs to develop and deploy digital services more quickly and efficiently. 

Each microservice is self-contained and can be developed, tested, and deployed separately on the cloud. The best part about this approach is that modern microservices can bypass complex layers of your legacy systems and pull data directly from the mainframes, midrange systems, and databases within your legacy systems. 

This allows you to embrace innovations and quickly and efficiently deliver new digital services without having to make any modifications to your existing legacy architecture or rely on middleware. 

The idea behind hybrid cloud architecture is to utilize the same operating system in every environment and manage everything through a single, unified platform. Relying on one system and a singular orchestration platform abstracts both hardware and application requirements. 

This creates an intertwined computing environment in which you can freely move services and workloads between the environments, without having to worry about breaking the entire application whenever you update a service, scale a capability, or change cloud providers. 

See how you can leverage hybrid integration and microservice-based APIs to deliver outstanding digital services to your customers 10x faster. 

Hybrid cloud examples

Organizations in various industries can benefit from adopting a hybrid cloud approach. Most often, businesses opt for hybrid cloud environments as an efficient way to handle fluctuating workloads throughout the business year. The adaptability and flexibility of hybrid cloud computing allow businesses to accommodate a surge in demand, without having to dedicate substantial resources upfront to develop systems that would support these workload spikes. 

Here are a few examples of how hybrid cloud is used in practice, so you can get a better idea of how your organization could benefit from adopting this approach.

Financial services

Most companies in the financial industry rely on private clouds to process trade orders and store confidential or sensitive customer information and mission-critical data. They simultaneously use public clouds for less sensitive applications and services. For instance, they can host services that support functionalities that directly deal with customer information — such as account creation or logging in — on the private cloud, while relying on a public cloud for trade analytics.

eCommerce

For any eCommerce business, processing a large amount of sales data and analytics can be quite resource-intensive. On top of that, sudden spikes in demand are common throughout the year, especially during holidays or if the store is running a huge sale. Most online retailers rely on the public cloud in these times for additional computing power to handle huge amounts of sales data, which their on-premise environments would be unable to handle.

Healthcare

The hybrid cloud model is often used by healthcare providers. The private aspect is leveraged to handle patients’ electronic health records, while most practices rely on public cloud hosting when sharing protected health information (PHI) between facilities and insurance providers. This is mainly due to the fact that the transfer of PHI needs to take place in a secure, HIPAA compliant environment. 

Benefits of hybrid cloud

The flexibility hybrid cloud offers when it comes to data storage, computing power, and workload distribution offers multiple benefits to organizations in various industries. The main benefits of hybrid cloud are:

  1. Cost reduction and resource optimization
  2. Scalability and resilience
  3. Security and compliance

Cost reduction and resource optimization

Hybrid clouds give organizations the much-needed flexibility for deploying workloads across several environments. This flexibility enables you to make the most out of your existing infrastructure, without having to migrate the entire application to the cloud. At the same time, you can develop new applications or services in the cloud that integrate with your legacy system. Organizations can also leverage the computing power of public clouds to handle changing workloads or take advantage of new opportunities.

Scalability and resilience

Spikes in workload are difficult to predict. Even if you could know in advance when each spike will occur, it would be difficult to justify making huge investments to increase the capacity of your private cloud just to accommodate for these spikes. Relying on a public cloud in these instances is a much more cost-effective option.

Security and compliance

Fully transitioning to public clouds simply isn’t an option for organizations in highly-regulated industries. If you’re working with confidential or sensitive data, and have to abide by strict archiving, storing, and data management rules — having a private cloud is a must.

This doesn’t mean such organizations are excluded from taking advantage of public clouds. Quite the contrary — hybrid cloud architecture enables them to both satisfy the security and compliance requirements, while simultaneously deploying less sensitive workloads in public clouds.

Hybrid cloud strategy 

Although a hybrid cloud can offer a myriad of benefits to organizations, adopting this approach can be a challenging task.

When transitioning to a hybrid cloud architecture, there are a few considerations to make:

  1. Hybrid cloud integration
  2. Hybrid cloud management
  3. DevOps and automation
  4. Hybrid cloud storage
  5. Hybrid cloud security

Hybrid cloud integration

The first thing you need to consider before transitioning to a hybrid cloud is what kind of integration you want to accomplish. The main types of integrations include:

  1. Integrations across multiple applications, whether in the same cloud or between on-premise and public clouds
  2. Data integration between various clouds
  3. Connecting applications from multiple Software as a Service (SaaS) providers
  4. Deploying components of applications as microservices or adopting a microservice-based architecture for new applications
  5. Integrating new services with existing legacy applications

Regardless of what type of integration the shift to a hybrid cloud should facilitate for your organization, it’s imperative to ensure that all components in a hybrid environment are properly connected and seamlessly work together.

Considering the rapid rate of innovations, most organizations today face a unique challenge — they must develop an architecture that can support a high number of integration requests. Most modern approaches include microservice-based architectures and APIs, developed and deployed in the cloud. The main reasons for embracing microservices are the speed of deployment, flexibility, and scalability.

Most development teams today embrace agile approaches and DevOps. This allows them to efficiently meet ever-changing customer demands and consistently provide value by developing, deploying, and scaling individual services, rather than changing the application as a whole. 

This can be a daunting task when the entire application is based on a monolithic legacy system. It’s impossible to scale individual components of a legacy application, but the app simultaneously doesn’t integrate with new technologies and systems. 

That’s why a good number of organizations opted to move their applications to the cloud. That said, there are a few issues with moving entire applications to a cloud-native architecture, apart from the endeavor being extremely time-consuming and costly.

OpenLegacy offers a Hybrid Integration Platform (HIP) as the perfect solution when you need to leverage legacy assets to develop and deploy digital services in the cloud, using new technologies. Our integration solution leaves the applications in their current environments — whether they exist on-premises or in the cloud — and leverage the integration between them based on user scenarios.

Benefits of hybrid integration

Flexible deployment models

You decide whether to place the integration in a public or private cloud, depending on your business needs

Support for integration scenarios

Our pre-built connectors support various integration scenarios — green screens, reading metadata, converting DB interfaces, etc.

Agile approach

Flexibility in developing integrations based on urgency — Automated API creation makes development fast and doesn’t require specialized platform knowledge

Read more about how you can leverage hybrid integration to access legacy systems in the cloud.

Hybrid cloud management

Another thing regarding hybrid cloud you should consider is how your organization will manage provisioning, scaling, and monitoring across multiple development environments. 

If you opt for a hybrid environment where all clouds are provided by the same vendor, you’ll be able to leverage the same tools to manage the entire infrastructure. If private and public clouds are provided by different vendors, management can be a bit more challenging. 

Kubernetes is a good solution for managing hybrid multicloud environments. This open-source technology works with a variety of container engines and can help with scaling containerized apps, deploying new versions of the app, monitoring, logging, and debugging.

DevOps and automation

The focus of DevOps is to enable cross-functional development teams to work on developing and deploying different services simultaneously. The main advantage of a hybrid cloud is the ability to choose the best environment to support different workload environments. 

In addition, embracing microservice architecture enables developers to select the programming language and database that best aligns with the functionality the individual service will perform. OpenLegacy supports DevOps by ensuring a consistent approach and enabling automation across hybrid environments.  

Hybrid cloud storage

When it comes to data storage, a hybrid cloud enables organizations to choose which data to store on private clouds and which data to entrust to a third-party cloud provider. Hybrid cloud storage is a perfect blend for organizations that have to store confidential business or customer data on private clouds, while simultaneously leveraging public cloud storage for less sensitive data.

OpenLegacy and Hybrid Integration

OpenLegacy’s Hybrid Integration Platform (HIP) is an ideal solution for organizations with business-critical data spread across on-premise applications and in the cloud, as well as organizations that have all their data in the cloud and need an on-premise solution.

Fast-track your digital transformation with Open Legacy. Learn how you can leverage microservices and microservice-based APIs to implement a quick, simple, cost-effective hybrid integration solution. Reduce development cost and time to market, and deliver digital services to customers ten times faster. 

References

Topics: Hybrid Cloud Strategy, Hybrid Cloud