Hybrid Infrastructure: The Answer To Public Cloud Pitfalls
As demand for bandwidth ballooned with the everything-from-home boom, enterprise-level digital infrastructure began requiring near-hyperscale space, power, and connectivity to deliver digital services to a global audience.
While public cloud delivered rapid deployment capability during the pandemic, this transition also reaffirmed an inconvenient truth: a cloud-only strategy is expensive and insufficient to meet all the needs of today’s businesses.
In the wake of waning sentiments on public cloud, 48% of businesses surveyed by 451 Research indicated they had transitioned a workload or application away from the hyperscale public cloud providers (e.g., Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform) to another venue over the past year. This rising tide of pulling workloads out of the cloud happens for a variety of reasons, including unsanctioned use of public cloud, information security concerns, application lifecycle considerations, governance requirements, and data sovereignty. Whatever the reasons, organizations seeking the simplicity of cloud data center services have met cloud deployment with some frustration with their cloud journey.
It is clear that several factors such as rushed migrations or unclear strategies may end up costing businesses more than they expected. Public cloud possesses a variety of challenges that are increasingly hard for IT managers to overcome.
Top Cloud Computing Challenges in 2022
The obstacle that gets top billing is controlling cloud costs. Runaway costs have contributed to the staggering figure of $122.75 billion that organizations self-report as having wasted on cloud spending in 2021 alone. Businesses continue to underestimate how much waste is occurring. According to Flexera’s latest study, organizations shared that their estimated percentage of wasted cloud spending went as high as 32 percent. Organizations are over budget for cloud spending by an average of 13% while also expecting their cloud spending to increase in 2023.
Fees aren’t the only challenges with cloud usage. FinOps is an evolving financial management discipline that has emerged specifically to manage overspending and get a handle on forecasting and cost optimization.
2. Data Privacy and Security Challenges
Another challenge associated with cloud adoption is cloud security, which remains top of mind for 85% of organizations. Cloud security can be challenging because IT leaders have been under pressure to gain cloud fluency skills and increase adoption in past years. Unfortunately, the likelihood that a business can carefully plan and orderly transition their compute all at once into the cloud is very low.
What does happen? Organizations are ending up with a combination of cloud and private data center configurations that have been added in a piecemeal fashion. The multiple applications, potentially siloed applications, and even applications connected to various environments exacerbate the operational challenges of securing data.
A disjointed approach leads to a vast array of cloud security issues, from workloads that fall out of compliance to unmanaged software vulnerabilities, compromised credentials, and broken authentication to mass sensitive data breaches. Basically, many businesses aren’t sure what they have in the cloud, where it is located, who can get to it and how exposed the data may be.
Cloud infrastructure is designed to be managed by cloud providers, meaning organizations do not have complete visibility and control over the infrastructure housed in their various cloud environments. Nor do they always understand where their responsibility lies for their own cloud security versus that of the cloud provider. Add to this, 79% of companies report they have experienced at least one cloud data breach. Alarming as that seems, 43% of businesses report 10 or more breaches in that time. The desperate scramble to adopt cloud has led organizations to inadvertently sacrifice security
3. Vendor Lock-In
Vendor lock-in remains a serious concern for companies. Once all systems have been moved to the cloud, and none of the equipment is owned by the enterprise, it becomes difficult to move environments.
Additionally, the multi-tenant nature of public clouds makes organizations’ ability to deliver superior performance dependent on the amount of available WAN bandwidth and the number of other workloads running. The time it takes to move data in and out of the cloud only increases as the workload density and application complexity increase. This spells trouble for enterprises in industries with rapidly changing network requirements who are locked into multi-year SLAs with providers who may have little incentive to modernize quickly.
These factors reveal why so many enterprises are solving public cloud computing challenges with a blend of services. Hybrid infrastructure presents a compelling solution to the roadblocks of an all-cloud architecture. Emerging trends such as edge deployments, high-density requirements to support AI and ML, and increased pressure for sustainable data center operations are also prompting businesses to deploy workloads based on their business applications and requirements rather than choosing any all-in model.
Hybrid Environments Blending Colocation and Cloud Provides Security, Flexibility, And Cost-Savings
Hybrid infrastructure combines different types of infrastructure, typically public clouds, on-premise or private clouds, and colocation. These disparate infrastructures become “hybrid” by interconnecting their environments.
Interconnectivity enables hybrid infrastructure to deliver the best of both public and private environments by improving network flexibility and agility, increasing security for workloads requiring specific control and oversight, and reducing operational costs, so businesses aren’t bound to a one-size-fits-all workloads approach.
Increased flexibility and agility
Hybrid infrastructure offers tremendous flexibility for businesses to scale service delivery on-demand. This is because hybrid infrastructure allows operators to easily provision and use private cloud resources while also connecting applications to the public cloud resources through secure on-ramps.
By doing this, organizations can shift workloads between cloud providers or colocation depending on cost or performance requirements. Scaling service delivery can occur based upon demand without worrying about resource constraints or additional, unnecessary security risks from cloud computing. This also enables greater developmental agility, letting operators deploy new applications with untested loads to the public cloud and gain visibility into the cost of running those applications without substantial upfront investment. Workloads that require greater control or customization can be deployed in colocation where customers are able to freely configure hardware to meet specific needs for test development workloads.
Hybrid infrastructure provides significant cost savings to its users. This is due to the fact that organizations using a hybrid infrastructure can establish direct connections between their public and private resources. This allows organizations to only use finite, private resources for critical workloads, or to only run those workloads where the costs are lowest. Colocation facilities aren’t billed on a fee basis. Customers pay for the space and power used, providing a more predictable pricing model and flat rate for monthly leasing.
Additionally, hybrid architecture closes the distance between organizations and cloud on-ramps. In turn, this reduces the number of internet traffic exchange points and the amount of egress fees incurred. Hybrid environments also clarify where the money is going by making it easy to divide IT consumption into capital and operational costs, thus reducing the potential for wasted spending.
Together, these capabilities set the stage for the IDC’s findings which showed that, over a five-year period, even demanding workloads cost 44% less in hybrid environments than their native, public cloud equivalent. This is even after taking into account costs like infrastructure management, application installation and software licensing fees, refactoring, and migration.
Finally, hybrid infrastructure poses several security benefits. Whereas public cloud customers are at their providers’ whims and on-premise operators must make do with the hardware they have, organizations using a hybrid model can keep critical workloads on-site or in colocation where they have greater visibility while pushing less-sensitive workloads to the public cloud.
Organizations can also use a hybrid model to establish direct connections and limit access points from the public internet to reduce the risk of breaches and possible downtime. By keeping mission-critical workloads in a private data center environment, those same companies can standardize redundant cloud storage, which is critical for disaster recovery and guaranteeing continuity of service.
While there are many benefits of hybrid IT, IT leaders are discovering that effectively utilizing hybrid architecture requires planning. Careful coordination between private and public resources is required to deliver continuous, robust connectivity without ballooning TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Of course, this is easier said than done. Luckily, colocation provides a way to achieve this and deliver high-end digital experiences.
How Colocation Enables Effective Hybrid Infrastructure
As increasing numbers of operators experience the complications of hybrid deployment first-hand, the desire for colocation has grown – and for a good reason. Colocation allows organizations to enjoy the control and security benefits of private infrastructure and the scalability and ease of access of public infrastructure, all while avoiding the associated headaches that come from maintaining or modernizing either.
Simplified operations and increased flexibility
For most organizations, establishing, maintaining, and modernizing on-premise data operations is a necessary evil, as is interfacing with public cloud providers. By offloading data operations to a third party, things like heating, cooling, building maintenance, and upgrading software all become the responsibility of the colocation provider, giving teams more time to focus on other areas of their business. In addition, colocation providers enable teams to maintain visibility into their deployments; some even offer advanced reporting to easily glean if their data governance complies with internal mandates or goals.
Greater scalability and performance capabilities
One of the most impactful ways colocation enables hybrid infrastructure is its increased scalability compared to entirely public cloud or on-premise approaches. Colocation customers have the ability to access more bandwidth, power, and square footage as they need it with negligible implementation time. Additionally, colocation allows operators to quickly and easily build direct connections between their public clouds and private infrastructure. These connections can be provisioned in minutes and scale up or down depending on demand without additional strain on bandwidth.
Increased security and resiliency
Colocation providers are uniquely positioned to help their customers secure their data. One way they do this is by utilizing a multi-layer approach to physical security through strict authentication protocols, biometrics, and 24/7 surveillance of their customers’ hardware. Colocation providers also heavily emphasize resiliency, which is why many guarantee 100% uptime, proactive protection from DDoS attacks, and both power- and network redundancy to ensure operational continuity no matter what.
Reduced total cost of ownership
Working with a colocation provider offers a seamless way through which teams can minimize the costs of implementing a hybrid infrastructure. Organizations rent space in a third-party center, converting the sizable capital expenses required to implement an on-premise approach into a predictable, low monthly operational expense. This also lets organizations eschew the traditional pitfall of spending enormous human and financial capital outsizing their initial on-premise centers and services in anticipation of future growth. With a colocation provider, organizations only need to purchase the hardware and space that best suits their current requirements, understanding that they can quickly expand as those requirements shift.
Colocation also affords substantial cost savings for operators currently relying on public cloud resources. By enabling customers to establish connections directly and leverage public cloud resources with the provider of their choice, colocation empowers organizations to shop around and only utilize resources with egress fees congruent with their budgeted spending.
Whether it’s delivering on-ramps to critical cloud services, enabling immediate connectivity to private resources, or providing added security, it’s clear that colocation serves as the lynchpin to the hybrid environments that are increasingly necessary for organizations to utilize if they want to deliver increasingly sophisticated digital services to their end users.