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Know your ADCs and get more from the hybrid cloud

hybrid_cloud-300x200When cloud computing first appeared on corporate radar screens in the mid-2000s, it brought with it the promise of big business benefits – but, asks Benjamin Hodge, have those been realised?…

The shift from on-premise infrastructure to public cloud providers has not been as swift or complete as many forecast. While there have been some success stories, for others progress has been much more restrained; in some cases, those who took the plunge are now in the process of pulling some resources back in-house. The cloud hasn’t gone away, but the approach many organisations are taking to its adoption has evolved, with hybrid models emerging as a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario. However, even these configurations come with difficulties – but those can be broadly solved through the use of application delivery controllers.

The challenges presented by hybrid cloud architectures include:

Management and performance
Splitting data and processing between internal and external resources makes management more complex. Some enterprises may have requirements for their applications to operate in specific parts of the private and public cloud infrastructure for reasons of resilience, scalability and flexibility. At the same time, some applications may need to be close to data stores to be effective.

These factors tend to be easy to control in a fully in-house infrastructure, but making sure this happens in hybrid cloud environments can be a challenge. Detailed network planning and management is required to keep latency at acceptable levels while data storage locations must be closely monitored to ensure they meet application requirements.

Application architecture
Many existing applications weren’t developed with cloud (or hybrid cloud) infrastructure in mind. Some organisations opt to keep core applications on premise, but use cloud platforms to support internet-facing services – an approach proving popular in sectors such as finance. The situation is going to be different for each application within each organisation; careful planning is crucial.

Security and compliance
When data is no longer held entirely on-premise, suitable security measures must be established. A central challenge is ensuring consistent and measurable compliance with security policies. Existing enterprise identity management systems will need to be changed to ensure they can cope with a hybrid approach. Making sure hybrid architectures comply with regulatory and privacy rules can also be particularly difficult. Some data may need to remain on-premise at all times while other data may need to remain within certain geographic boundaries. Organisations must be able to enforce a unified set of policies across both internal and external platforms at all times.

Meeting the hybrid challenge with ADCs
Hybrid cloud management can be addressed with the help of devices called load balancers or application delivery controllers (ADCs) which enhance performance, scaling and business continuity. ADCs can be placed between a private cloud infrastructure and external cloud resources. In this position they monitor all incoming and outgoing application network traffic and ensure it is distributed across resources as required.

ADCs can also be tasked with sending traffic to the most appropriate external cloud service, depending on the particular business need or user location. This ensures performance levels are maintained and security policies met.

Increasing numbers of public cloud providers are offering ADC capabilities as part of their service package, allowing users to take advantage of hybrid cloud environments by assisting with both workload management and security/identity requirements.

ADCs also help overcome the challenges associated with applications that were not initially developed for cloud deployment, bridging the divide between on-premise and cloud by allowing the application to continue to perform in its traditional way and masking the cloud components with which it has to deal.

Through effective use of ADCs, some of the major barriers to adoption of hybrid infrastructures can be overcome, opening up the benefits to a wider number of organisations.


Benjamin Hodge is APAC technical services director at KEMP Technologies

This article was originally published on iStart technology in business