Hybrid Datacenter - Choosing the best of both the physical and virtual worlds

Article by Nitin Mishra



Data centers must adapt to the new demands being put on them by virtualization and applications and data moving to the cloud. Thus, having a hybrid data center infrastructure makes sense as it brings together best of all worlds i.e., cloud, virtualization, hardware and colocation.

As business enterprises move to the cloud and other virtual environments for data storage and applications, cloud computing and virtualization becomes the obvious choice for any enterprise thinking of upgrading/complementing their internal IT infrastructures. Many business enterprises are exploring the idea of Hybrid IT/data center environment that brings together best of both the worlds - in-house supported by either cloud, colocation or dedicated hosting.

Hybrid data center forms the epicenter of the trend towards using IT as a service. It has set a new paradigm in the way IT is delivered and consumed by business enterprises today. At one end, it enables organizations to use the cloud for workloads and applications and at the other it provides dedicated hardware for workloads and applications that cannot be moved to virtualized environments.

One size does not fit all

With all the hype around the cloud as the next big thing in how IT is consumed and delivered, not every workload or application can be moved to the cloud. Organizations still have legacy systems that are not compatible to move to the cloud or be virtualized. And the reason(s) could be many - strict regulatory and compliance requirements, need for high-speed data access, service provider support or licensing constraints and/or budget restrictions.

Moreover, not all IT departments have the capability/skill set to support virtualized environments because they may not have the expertise or the resources to do so. In such a case, moving ahead with cloud or virtualization can actually put your data at risk. If done in a hurry, virtual environments could pose a huge security threat.

Even in the most ideal cloud set up, latency cannot be completely eliminated. As in the case of high performing applications that rely on quick access to databases, a small delay can lead to low performance. Such applications have to be hosted on dedicated hardware/infrastructure where the lag time can be minimized.

Having said this, on the other hand there are applications that need elasticity and need to be consolidated to reduce the server sprawl in the data center, these make good candidates for cloud, especially from a cost saving and flexibility perspective. To balance between cost and performance of applications critical to the functioning of a business, a hybrid data center approach becomes essential for many enterprises.

Case for hybrid hosting

Managing a hybrid IT infrastructure can be very challenging for IT departments as they not only have to handle the in-house IT infrastructure but also manage colocation, virtualization, public or private cloud infrastructures, managed or dedicated hosting, as the case may be. The IT departments have to understand how to manage these hybrid infrastructures.

But there is a bright side as well to hybrid IT infrastructures – a hybrid hosting in a data center may combine colocation and physical hosting depending on where, when and how the customers want to run their applications and databases based on their specific needs. A hybrid hosting automates the partitioning of infrastructure/services that business enterprises may be using every day.

Security is an important constituent that most business enterprises demand from their service providers, whether they choose to go with a hybrid, virtual or cloud infrastructure. Today, most service providers are able to address security and reliability concerns by augmenting services with core and optional security elements, and taking greater liability for data protection through contracts and service level agreements.In most cases, to ensure safety of data as well as the environment, the service provider provides data segregation and encryption at every stage of a multiple tenant environment. The service provider also takes care of software upgrades, antivirus and security polices, secure login, encryption methodologies, enterprise grade intrusion prevention systems, and hardware based firewalls. Hence, the organization’s concern of security while making the switch from public infra to private infra and vice versa is taken care of.

Choosing the right data center service provider is the key for success. A service provider should not only be able to provide a secure hybrid environment but should also manage the transition between virtual and physical environments seamlessly.

Since there is no one size that fits all, a hybrid data center enables business enterprises to combine different options available to them - physical, virtual or cloud - and choose the one that suits their needs. Is your organization thinking of choosing a hybrid IT infrastructure? Do let us know and we will be able to guide you on the correct approach to take.