Navigating Your Way to the Hybrid Cloud

Navigating Your Way to the Hybrid Cloud

John Easton (IBM Corporation, UK) and Rashik Parmar (IBM Corporation, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0759-8.ch002


The authors believe that cloud computing systems should become hybrid in nature for organisations to realise the full business potential that the cloud offers: increased agility, velocity and innovation in business IT. Yet hybrid environments are complex to design, implement and run. To the organisations implementing them, these systems present many architectural challenges that must be solved if the resulting solution is to deliver desired business outcomes. This chapter defines the different types of hybrid cloud: those seen to date as well as those that will emerge in the near future. Using seven key business use cases as a framework, the authors propose a high-level architecture for hybrid cloud computing environments that is practically illustrated with real-world client examples.
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Whilst IT automation techniques for systems and software are well understood, cloud computing has made possible the extensive automation of the IT support processes for managing and administering information technology (IT) systems, thereby providing many unique benefits when compared to traditional IT models. Cloud services can automatically reconfigure infrastructure components to cope with rapidly changing workload demands. The time required to move a suite of computer programs to a state in which the users are able to use the systems can be dramatically reduced through automation. These are the primary advantages of cloud computing as a tool to support businesses. Additionally, cloud provides a new way of exposing business services to customers, partners and suppliers. These business services are presented as application programming interfaces (APIs). A new API economy is emerging in the cloud, where digital services are purchased and combined with additional data or programs to support business activities. The innovation potential of cloud computing allows new business patterns to emerge. These are explored in “The New Patterns of Innovation” (Parmar, McKenzie, Cohn & Gann, 2014).

Organisations want to build on their prior IT or cloud investments. To do this, they must eventually adopt an approach that is inherently hybrid in nature. In this section the authors explain the rationale for this belief.

To understand the different ways that organisations deliver cloud services to their customers and users requires the authors to first describe the differences in IT delivery for organisations whose IT is “born on the cloud” and those using “traditional IT“ delivery models.

The born-on-the-cloud model is typically found within newer, ”startup” type organisations that have developed their IT relatively recently and are using new or non-traditional approaches to create applications, deliver infrastructure and services, etc. Instead of owning any IT themselves, they may procure what they need, when they need it from a service provider. They likely develop applications in modern or emerging programming languages and are focused on the rapid delivery of minimum viable products using agile development approaches. They are also consumers of many different open source technologies, and they consume these services from wherever they deem most appropriate.

Organisations with born-on-the-cloud IT tend to operate in ways very different from those following a traditional IT approach, which is the approach that most readers would think of when business IT is mentioned. Though there are many ways that the traditional IT approach can be realised, these tend to be less agile and process-driven as well as use a much wider range of hardware, software and service components to deliver services. Organisations with traditional IT tend to use open source less often and most have relationships with a relatively small number of hardware and software vendors. Programming, if done at all, likely follows a waterfall delivery model and is supported by traditional project management methods.

These born-on-the-cloud and traditional IT approaches are not mutually exclusive; each delivers value to organisations. It is important to understand the differences in the architectural aspects of each approach, which are mainly related to how applications are designed, created and managed.

Key Terms in this Chapter

System of Record: Those systems which are highly reliable, secure and resilient that support key business functions. May be synonymous with the Industrialised Core.

Workload: The functions and processes that make up an application or business service running in an IT system. Migration to the cloud is always done on a workload-by-workload basis.

Hybrid IT: The IT system that combines functions from the agile edge and industrialised core to deliver a greater functionality than can be achieved by either component on its own.

API: Application Programming Interface. The means by which functions from different systems are invoked and integrated.

System of Engagement: Those systems that are rapidly changing to meet the desires of the business to offer new services to their customers. May be synonymous with an Agile Edge system.

Industrialised Core: Those systems that run the established IT functions that are critical to the operation of a business.

Integration: A key component in any hybrid IT environment that allows services from the industrialised core and agile edge to be brought together.

Agile Edge: The cloud computing environment that hosts rapidly changing services, typically supporting new workloads.

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