Cloud evolution – Private vs hybrid?

Recent advances in virtualised infrastructure have brought the cost of private clouds down to reasonable levels. There has seen a lot of investment in products such as Serengeti for vSphere, Savanna for OpenStack and Ironfan for Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The Hybrid Cloud is also gaining a lot of support. The Hybrid Cloud provides, as in its namesake the best of both worlds, i.e. the flexibility and scalability of public cloud and the security of a private cloud. At Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead CIO, Rocco Labellarte commented that the motivation for hybrid cloud was grounded in financial drivers. RBWM didn’t want to invest significantly in IT, they had aging servers and outdated software that would require significant capital reinvest in a data centre, as well as upgrading software applications and a number of operating systems. The Hybrid model can be seen to be extremely cost effective as upfront investment capital amounted to a minimal £250K in total cost vs 1.5M infrastructure investment in a private model.

James Munson, Head of IT at UCAAS, which provide a results day service of University entry- where demand peaks often exceeds capacity resulting in a poor service. UCAS had to look at alternative ways of sourcing to ensure a good service. Given the choice between big investment in up scaling local datacentres or move to  cloud providers, UCAS chose the latter. The UCAS results day is now all hosted in a Cloud environment.

Intel’s Alan Presley, maintains that  Cloud is a journey which often starts with private cloud following virtualisation, and then organisations look to public cloud to supplement functions, thus creating a Hybrid arrangement.

Building in the hybrid cloud is often difficult as new skills are hard to find. Many organisations outsource, some have in house Cloud skill but many need to invest in additional skill sets and hire more resources. In the short term it is advisable that 3rd parties are used for database remodelling, data security and other database specialist skills. In the longer term, RBWM did not go to 3rd party service providers, as bringing skills in house was felt to give a competitive advantage when speaking to providers.

Rocco Labellarte of RBWM maintained that Security is the primary consideration in the hybrid cloud.  As local government are easy targets for a media spectacle combined with the more onerous requirements behind the European Directive and data privacy laws. Intel’s Alan Presley concurred, “what security is required depends very much on what data is present. There is no such thing as one size fits all.” Some data needs to be kept internally as it may be business confidential. Some may be hosted externally.  Suppliers must demonstrate how infrastructure has not been compromised, how data protected against attack and data security in the cloud. When considering suppliers, pertinent questions like “Is it ring fenced? Can data be used?” must be asked. As a final line of defence, Intel’s Alan Presley suggests that [1]encryption ensures that even if data is illegally accessed unauthorised used is prevented.

Finally, Intel stressed the importance of considering an Exit strategy when assessing and selecting the Cloud Vendor. UCAS recommends using a replication service to maintain complete copies of all business critical data on premise. Further working with a multi sourcing model, changes between suppliers are possible as there is no lock in and the flexibility increases competition on cost. In an Outsourcing model, an exit strategy must be set out in SLA’s with the Cloud Supplier’s responsibility in transitioning out of the cloud clearly defined at the onset

[1] All Comments from Interview- Influence- Hybrid Cloud- Stuart Summer (Rocco Labellarte, Alan Presley & James Munson) ,