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Pros and cons of hybrid cloud architecture approaches

Building a hybrid cloud architecture rather than purchasing an all-in-one system can result in cost savings, but the time needed to deploy is a tradeoff.

A hybrid cloud architecture brings several advantages to the data center. For on-premises storage, it provides...

a highly scalable, cost-effective storage infrastructure that is ideal for storing unstructured data from users as well as Internet of Things devices such as cameras and sensors. For off-premises storage, a hybrid cloud storage infrastructure provides seamless integration with public cloud providers that is useful for cloud bursting, disaster recovery and long-term data archiving.

Deciding how to acquire and implement your hybrid cloud architecture is a critical decision. There are two basic options -- build-it-yourself or prepackaged -- and each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

Option 1: Build-it-yourself hybrid cloud architecture

Building a hybrid cloud architecture appeals to many data centers because of the potential to save money and increase flexibility.

Building a hybrid cloud architecture appeals to many data centers because of the potential to save money and increase flexibility. With this approach, an IT planner selects the cloud or object storage software independently of the hardware. The hardware is often off-the-shelf, commodity servers that can even be remnants of a server consolidation effort. This approach requires the user to also purchase off-the-shelf commodity storage devices.

The build-it-yourself approach should be substantially less expensive than any other option. The cost savings are especially high if servers in the data center can be repurposed to be members of the cloud storage infrastructure. This option also provides great flexibility. An IT planner essentially defines the architecture and can use most vendor hardware now and in the future.

But the advantages of this approach can also become disadvantages. The time it takes to identify and qualify servers and storage to be part of the cloud infrastructure can be time-consuming. The greater the variety of hardware, the more challenging it can be to support it.

Option 2: Prepackaged hybrid cloud architecture

While a prepackaged hybrid cloud architecture would seem to be the exact opposite of a build-it-yourself approach, it is very similar. In this hybrid cloud deployment model, the vendor not only does the integration work but deploys object or cloud storage software on top of commodity hardware. However, if the provider is a server vendor, it will typically use its name-brand equipment.

The advantage of a prepackaged hybrid cloud is time to value. The system can be ordered in a starter three-node configuration, and the organization can start writing data to it almost immediately.

The downside to a prepackaged approach is usually cost because vendors charge a premium for preconfiguring the system. But the gap between the two options is not as significant as you might think. The lack of a price difference between the two methods is especially true for server vendors who look at the pre-integration as a way to sell more servers and provide the service as a loss leader.

Which option a data center selects largely depends on IT's available time and skills. For many organizations, IT staff is already stretched too thin. Learning new storage software from the ground up and assembling the hardware infrastructure it will run on is too much to ask. Prepackaged hybrid clouds can get close enough to the build-it-yourself cloud architectures from a price perspective, provide a much faster time to value and are typically easier to support.

Next Steps

Planning your on-premises side of a hybrid architecture

Examining different hybrid cloud models

Mix and match to create the best hybrid cloud

This was last published in September 2015

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Which option do you find more appealing for implementing a hybrid cloud architecture and why?
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My sense is those that want to get out of the "infrastructure business" don't want to get into the "build a cloud" business.  #outoffryingpanintofire
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