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Hybrid cloud: Define what it is, then decide what you want

Choose a provider carefully, think about what you need

Managing across the locations of the hybrid

So we've looked at some examples of how you use hybrid cloud at the application and server level, but what about managing your two disparate worlds?

Frankly, although at the processing level things are pretty good, the same can't be said for the management layer – at least not in the generic sense. Different cloud providers have different user interfaces, and none of the big providers has yet decided to extend its own management interface to encompass those of the competition.

What would be great, of course, would be for the cloud providers to come together and define some kind of management standard – or maybe even do some kind of tie-up so people can use Microsoft or VMware's management tools to extend on-prem virtual management into the cloud.

There are some smaller cloud providers out there that allow you to extend your on-prem proprietary management tools (vCloud Connector, for example) to their VMware installations, but these are few and far between.

Happily there are some options for hybrid cloud management out there from third parties – programmatic general ones like Chef and more graphical, core ones like RightScale. It's inevitable that things will improve over time, but there's a way to go yet.

So will I ever use hybrid cloud?

If you're using the cloud now, there's every chance that you'll go for a hybrid model – and I snuck in the concept of “hybrid” including two cloud-based installations rather than an on-prem one because I reckon that's where hybrid will start to grow very soon.

You'll use it for some simple reasons:

  • At an operational level it's easy in the basic case: run up a VPN and your connectivity's sorted
  • If you do need to speed up the interconnect between locations you have options such as standard storage speed optimisation and the emerging concept of storage virtualisation
  • Although the vendors don't follow any common management platform, it's really not a big deal and there are some options out there if you do want to look for an “umbrella” management option for at least part of what you do

And you know what? Even if you don't currently have a solid requirement, why not have a go? You can do it for next to no money if you're doing cloud-to-cloud hybrid, and all the principles can be demonstrated with only a modest installation at each location – so it'll cost you a sensible amount of time and probably no money at all.

And once you've had a go, I reckon you'll start a flood of ideas of what you might do with it. So why wouldn't you?

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