It seems like analysts, vendors and IT decision makers have been talking about “hybrid cloud” for the longest time. The concept has been around for at least a decade – and that’s a really long time in the IT industry. Is it still important? Absolutely.
Almost every piece of cloud market research I read shows the majority of enterprises are focusing on a hybrid cloud strategy. Why? Because they all need increased agility, innovation and productivity, better cost optimization and improved customer experience.
However, there is a problem. Building hybrid clouds – as well as architecting the applications to take advantage of them – has proved difficult and complex. At least, it has up until now.
What makes hybrid cloud so challenging?
Genuine hybrid clouds involve combining two or more cloud platforms – usually a mix of public and private clouds – into a single entity. Access to these consolidated cloud resources can then be more easily controlled through a unified management environment. The aim is to make it possible to seamlessly move applications or data from one cloud platform to another or even to architect a single workload to span multiple clouds. It also means you can quickly adapt, or expand cloud resources as your business demand changes.
It goes without saying that this is not simply a matter of gluing disparate cloud platforms together. There are numerous practical problems that must be overcome. Here are just a few:
- Additional cloud components, APIs and features are involved
- Integration, interoperability and security issues need addressing
- Monitoring and management tools must be chosen
- More cost points, partner relationships and SLAs need managing
These are not simple issues, but the rewards they offer make them worth the additional effort and investment.
Containers and Kubernetes to the rescue
Containers and Kubernetes are finally providing the workable solution needed to overcome the complexity and difficulties of hybrid clouds. Both are experiencing phenomenal growth in popularity.
Containers make it possible to design efficient cloud-native applications that can easily be moved from one cloud platform to another. That’s a critical factor for any hybrid cloud and a major reason why the container application market is forecast to double between now and 2022.
Kubernetes was the first open source project to graduate from the CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation) in 2015. It really took off in 2017 and has now become the de facto system for orchestration and management of containers. A Kubernetes cluster provides the additional layer of abstraction needed to hide all the complexities and differences of any underlying cloud platform. Because Kubernetes is supported on just about every cloud platform, it makes it possible to deploy, move or run your containerized applications wherever you need them.
There are some additional things you can do to make hybrid clouds even easier. Many customers I talk with prefer using a single consistent Kubernetes environment throughout their hybrid cloud. Using a packaged Kubernetes distribution – such as SUSE CaaS Platform – makes it fast and easy for them to spin up, manage, patch and support Kubernetes clusters wherever they need them.
Others are choosing to use an application development platform that can run on any cloud platform to handle all the heavy lifting for their development and DevOps teams. SUSE Cloud Application Platform is a great example. It combines Cloud Foundry with Kubernetes, giving you the choice of using a full PaaS (Platform as a Service) or using Kubernetes for orchestrating of containers to wherever you need them in your hybrid cloud.
But let me leave you with one further option to consider. Stratos is now available as a rich and flexible web-based UI for Cloud Foundry. It’s already being used with SUSE Cloud Application Platform, as well as other Cloud Foundry Distributions. Why is it relevant? Because it recognizes Cloud Foundry deployments from any vendor as an endpoint and makes it easier to deploy and manage applications to those endpoints as part of a hybrid cloud (or multi-cloud) game plan. Taking things a stage further, Stratos is designed to be highly customizable and extensible. It can recognize any Kubernetes cluster as an endpoint, which will make it even easier to deploy, monitor and manage containerized applications wherever they’re needed within a hybrid cloud. This raises truly exciting possibilities for the future.
My view is that containers, Kubernetes and new open source projects like Stratos are making life a whole lot easier for any organization with a hybrid cloud strategy.
If you’d like to read more on the subject, please take a look at the white paper: Hybrid Cloud – Overcoming the Challenges and Unlocking the Potential