cloud computingA hybrid cloud is an infrastructure that combines cloud infrastructure with an on-premise environment. The cloud infrastructure can be either public or private. Hybrid clouds can also include multiple different cloud infrastructures at once. In this article, you’ll learn about the challenges of hybrid cloud migration, and strategies for a successful implementation.

What Is a Hybrid Architecture?

A public cloud is a cloud that is run by a third-party vendor, such as Microsoft, Google, or Amazon. You access cloud resources through the internet and share servers with other cloud customers. 

A private cloud can be provided by a third-party or can be created in-house. You access resources over a private or Internet connection but do not share servers with other cloud customers.

In order for your systems to be considered a hybrid cloud, your infrastructures must integrate and allow communications between resources. It should also provide scalability and availability that traditional on-premise resources cannot. Having a cloud that does not integrate with your on-premise resources is not a hybrid cloud.

Hybrid Cloud Migration Challenges

When setting up a hybrid cloud environment, there are several challenges you may face. The most common challenges are covered here.

Accommodating Legacy Applications

Legacy applications are older applications that were built for specific environments or operating systems. Often these applications are no longer supported by the vendor or have been heavily customized to suit the particular needs of an organization. Legacy applications are also frequently tied to mission-critical processes.

Typically, legacy applications are designed with monolithic architectures, making applications ill-suited to cloud-native infrastructures. To continue using these applications in the cloud, organizations often move applications as a whole to a compatible virtual environment. Alternatively, you can refactor or re-architect (effectively rewrite) these applications to adapt to cloud infrastructures. However, this takes significant time and programming expertise.

To move applications as-is, you need to accommodate a variety of environmental requirements. These typically include high-throughput and low-latency network connections, and low-latency storage devices. 

Using Multi-Cloud Strategies

Multi-cloud strategies combine cloud services from multiple vendors. Many organizations are adopting this strategy to avoid issues related to vendor lock-in and to optimize cost and performance. Unfortunately, while a multi-cloud strategy has many benefits, it can also create complexities for migration.

When using multiple cloud services, you often need to manage resources through multiple consoles or portals. You need to connect services using multiple APIs, some of which are proprietary. You are also limited by the types of environments and operating systems you can use. These differing factors make it difficult to migrate data and applications consistently. These factors also make it more difficult to create and monitor a unified system with shared workloads.

Meeting Compliance Regulations

Hybrid cloud implementations are typically more complex than traditional, on-premise environments. Your data is spread across multiple, often remote, resources and is theoretically accessible to any cloud providers you use. This makes it more challenging to monitor, manage, and secure your data, all of which are required for regulatory compliance.

Most cloud providers include measures to meet the most common compliance standards, such as HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI. However, making sure that your configurations align with these standards is up to you. Likewise, it is your responsibility to ensure that data being passed between cloud and on-premise resources is secured. This is true both during and after migration.

You need to ensure that your data is encrypted at all times and that access is appropriately restricted. You also need to ensure that data locality requirements are met. These requirements specify which regions data can be stored in. Data locality can be an issue in hybrid clouds since cloud data is often replicated in multiple regions to ensure availability. Before migrating any data, you need to check with your cloud providers how they can or cannot meet compliance requirements.

Hybrid Cloud Migration Strategies

Once you are ready to begin migrating your data and applications, there are multiple migration strategies you can adopt. 

Helpful strategies to incorporate include:

  • Reusable pipelines—you can create a pipeline that enables you to create and deploy hybrid compatible applications to your resources. These pipelines can enable you to migrate to a variety of environments and resources with minimal tooling setup.
  • Deployment automation—can help you standardize the migration process and ensure that your configurations are consistent. Once set up, you can use deployment automation to incrementally change your environments with minimal manual work.
  • Templates—can help you ensure that your hybrid deployments are consistent with a single source of truth for your configurations. Templates also make it easier to deploy resources, such as virtual machines, as needed, potentially speeding migration.
  • Migrate in phases—use pipelines to move applications and data over time. Doing so enables you to work out configuration bugs along the way, minimizing harm if transfer or access rights create issues. Additionally, your applications and data may require different conditions for migration. Trying to meet all of these requirements at once complicates migration and is likely to lead to errors.
  • Be choosy when migrating—sometimes it’s better not to migrate applications or data. Hybrid clouds specifically enable you to keep difficult to migrate assets on-premise. You should take advantage of this ability. Additionally, you should consider whether the applications and data you’re migrating are necessary. After careful evaluation, you may find that some of your assets can be retired, archived, or replaced with more productive options.

Conclusion

Hybrid infrastructure is complex. There’s no question about that. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t successfully implement and maintain hybrid environments. The key to a successful migration is careful and deliberate planning. 

Start with honestly assessing your situation. Do you have the skills and resources to manage this operation, or do you need to work with a professional? If you need to outsource migration, ask around for recommendations. If you can manage the operation on your own, make sure that you maintain productivity with automation tooling. Then choose the strategy that fits your project best.

gilad maayanAuthor bio: Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership and you can follow him on LinkedIn.

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