Two of the most buzzworthy IT strategies right now are hybrid infrastructure, especially hybrid cloud, and software-defined data centers (SDDC). With VMware recently throwing its weight behind SDDC technologies and surveys from last year demonstrating that 75% of C-Level executives are focusing on hybrid cloud, these technologies are here to stay.
Gartner reports that only 10-15% of enterprises and mid market organizations are currently using hybrid computing, however. Their report states that, “More advanced approaches…suffer from significant setup and operational complexity.” New software defined data center management could help bridge the gap between interest and implementation.
Together, software-defined technology and hybrid IT help deliver a mobile, highly resilient and easy to manage infrastructure for your business applications and data. Here’s how.
Hybrid cloud is a blanket term for any infrastructure that combines onsite hardware and systems, public cloud resources, private hosted cloud and/or in-house virtualization. It provides the flexibility and mobility of cloud while keeping existing assets that are still useful, whether that’s simply due to the effort and expense of moving them into a hosted solution or because they need to remain in-house, perhaps due to performance or latency constrictions or because of compliance or security standards.
Workloads that are better suited to IaaS can therefore be placed in public clouds or hosted private clouds, where it’s easier to scale up resources and turn them off when finished. Systems that are simpler to move like e-mail are also an easy entry point to hybrid or public, while still remaining tied to legacy in-house IT.
A major advantage of hybrid cloud is being able to quickly connect to data centers across the country to improve availability, backup and restore, failover, or even archive data.
With all your IT running on a single virtualization platform like VMware vSphere, administrators can manage virtual machines from anywhere in the environment, moving them around as needed, scaling up resources from different data centers, and provisioning on the fly based on templates that even include networking and storage configurations.
With the workload specific and software defined tools like Virtual SAN, NSX, and vRealize, your admins have an easier time working through the management stack. There’s even support for hypervisors outside of VMware’s, like Hyper-V or OpenStack, and container technology, too.
A quick example is storage of large datasets that must be accessed regularly. Archives don’t need to be accessed by production or test applications, so you can stick data on tape and not worry about it. But active data can still be extremely large, taking far too long to transfer over a network to a public cloud provider. On-premise and cloud infrastructure can communicate in either direction, allowing you to use so-called “Two Tier Storage” to either add cloud storage for scalable storage, freeing up on-premise storage space, or the opposite, accessing local storage from a cloud application.
With SDDC set up in a hybrid cloud, IT administrators can spin up a VM template in your public cloud instance, adding 2 vCPUs, 1 GB of RAM, and provisioning 20 GB of attached storage for a development machine. Once the new application enters production, they can move it directly into your production environment in your on-site data center, while keeping storage in the cloud. This kind of mobility and flexibility allows better forecasting and granular control for expenses—maximize the value of cloud resources while squeezing the most out of the infrastructure you already have.
While Gartner asserts that the initial configuration of these environments has been a barrier to hybrid cloud adoption, once the groundwork is in place SDDC can in fact simplify operations rather than increase operational complexity, paving the way for greater hybrid utilization.