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August 17, 2017

Introducing the Open Hybrid Cloud: where Public freely meets Private

Red Hat's James Read delves into the topic of open hybrid cloud environments for CBR.

By Ellie Burns

Private or public cloud? Each has its pros and cons and, even though they are now considered mainstream, and adoption is growing, the struggle that organisations face in choosing which one to use continues to be front of mind for CIOs and vendors alike. The benefits of a cloud-based approach are well documented, including increased flexibility & collaboration, remote working, disaster recovery, access to additional enterprise-grade technology, as well as its reputation for facilitating a lower carbon footprint.

There are some key differentiators between public and private clouds. Gartner defines public cloud as scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities, provided as-a-service to external customers using Internet technologies. Using public cloud generates economies of scale and sharing of resources that can reduce costs and increase choice of technologies as multiple organizations share the same public cloud network.

Data is stored in the provider’s data center and they are responsible for the management and maintenance of the data center. Private cloud delivers similar advantages to public cloud, however these benefits are delivered through a dedicated proprietary architecture, that only the organization in question uses.

Although cloud adoption is on the rise, organizations are still faced with hurdles when looking to adopt a cloud-based approach. One of the biggest obstacles is the existence of vendor lock-in in the cloud ecosystem. Research from Computing found that most public cloud management tools being used today are technology-specific and thus keyed only to their own vendor. Restrictive vendor lock-in exacerbates the challenges of a modern technology company and, in order to innovate and stay ahead of the game, enterprises need to be able to provision new services with ease.

To compound adoption challenges, many organizations are hesitant to use a public cloud due to the risk of data leaks. More so than ever before, the world’s biggest organizations are data-centric, and if data is lost or stolen it can lead to heavy regulatory fines, a loss of competitive advantage and immeasurable reputational damage. In this case you’d think that private cloud was the only way to go.

But what if an organization finds that neither public or private cloud is the perfect solution for its business needs? Perhaps you want private on-premises infrastructure, access to scalable computing power, the chance to take advantage of economies of scale, and don’t want to deal with costly vendor lock-in? Enter the open hybrid cloud.

A hybrid cloud delivers on the full strategic business value and promise of cloud computing. A hybrid cloud set-up is the combination of a public cloud provider, and a private cloud platform, used only by a singular organization as is the case in a traditional private cloud.

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The public and private cloud operate independently and communicate through a secure encrypted connection, thus addressing data security concerns attached to using public cloud. Though of course, you can never be 100% secure. Using this approach effectively allows for the benefits of both cloud types, while granting organizations the ability to be more in control of its configuration.

So what does open mean in the context of the cloud? Firstly, an open cloud is open source. This allows adopters to control their particular implementation and doesn’t restrict them to the technology of a specific vendor. Open source also lets them collaborate with other communities and companies to help drive innovation. Open source isn’t just about the code, an open cloud possesses an independent community which contribute to the code and how it’s governed.

Finally, and importantly, open cloud is pluggable and extensible with an open API. This allows the addition of features, providers, and technologies from a variety of vendors or other sources. The API itself cannot be locked into one vendor or tied to a specific implementation for unrestricted access and improvement. The collaborative potential of open cloud is something we feel is crucial to current innovation levels in the enterprise.

It’s a concept that is already proving to be successful for customers. Look at Telefonica, a global telco, which relies on a virtualised infrastructure to innovate and roll out new services. In deploying new virtualised services across its global infrastructure, Telefonica needs integration across a range of platforms, avoiding the need to demount and cause disruption for customers.

READ MORE: Get your head out of the clouds! How to take control in a multi-cloud environment

By deploying an open multi-cloud platform, Telefonica has been able to automate provisioning and management jobs. As a result, the provision of infrastructure services has been made faster and time-to-market for new services has been reduced along with operating costs for infrastructure management. Users can now have access to a virtual machine less than 10 minutes after its approval – an act which previously would have taken several days.

To summarise, an open hybrid cloud environment can ensure that an organization’s cloud is portable, fully leverages existing IT investment in on-premise infrastructure, avoids costly vendor lock-in through open standards and open APIs, frees IT teams to deploy the technology that’s right for them at any given point, and remains secure despite the leveraging of additional computing power from the public cloud element.

Deploying to a standardised open platform ensures that no matter what route you choose, you will always be able to reap the full benefits of the promise of cloud computing. Many organizations are seeing open hybrid cloud as a must-have, and should speak to their preferred vendors to see how they can help to meet their needs.

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