Cloud native tools, which run in distributed environments, can be deployed in any type of cloud – public, private or hybrid. You don’t need a specific type of cloud architecture to go cloud native.
However, when you opt for a hybrid cloud – which means a cloud environment that combines public cloud resources with resources or infrastructure that operates on-premises – certain challenges may arise in the domains of management, scalability and more.
This article details these challenges, then explains how to overcome them to enable a successful cloud native DevOps deployment within a hybrid cloud architecture.
Cloud native challenges in hybrid clouds
There are three main challenges you’ll likely face if you use a hybrid cloud architecture to deploy cloud native applications.
First and foremost is management. When your cloud environment includes a mix of public cloud and private infrastructure, you need to figure out how to manage workloads in such a way that you’re not juggling different tools for each part of your environment.
This can be difficult because, in general, the tooling you’d use to deploy and manage applications in a public cloud doesn’t support on-premises environments, and vice versa. For instance, you could use AWS Beanstalk and AWS CloudWatch to deploy and manage an application on AWS public cloud infrastructure, but those tools aren’t compatible with infrastructure running in your own data center.
When your infrastructure is spread between multiple locations – as it is in a hybrid cloud setup – the network can easily end up being the weakest link in your environment.
The time it takes to move data between sites over the Internet can lead to latency issues, which translate to delays in serving requests to users. You also run the risk of having insufficient bandwidth to support high-volume data movement between the public and private parts of your hybrid cloud environment.
These challenges aren’t as severe if you use just a public cloud. Even if your public cloud includes multiple regions, the network connections between those regions are likely to be higher-performing than the connections between a private data center and a public cloud.
One of the fundamental challenges of any hybrid cloud environment is that you can’t instantly spin up new infrastructure on-premises in the way you can in the public cloud. To scale your on-premises infrastructure, you would need to deploy new physical servers, which is a time-consuming and expensive process.
In contrast, in the public cloud, you can launch new server instances in seconds using IaaS platforms like AWS EC2 or Azure Virtual Machines. You don’t need to buy new hardware, wait for it to ship and set it up before you can use it.
How cloud native tools simplify hybrid cloud
Fortunately, certain cloud native platforms can help to mitigate the hybrid cloud challenges described above.
Kubernetes and hybrid cloud
Chief among them is Kubernetes. If you use a single Kubernetes control plane to set up and manage server clusters within both a public cloud and an on-premises environment, you can manage your entire hybrid cloud centrally. There is no need to use different tools for the public cloud and on-premises parts of the environment.
In addition, Kubernetes can simplify the scalability challenges of hybrid cloud by autoscaling public cloud infrastructure and moving workloads to it in the event that your on-premises infrastructure becomes insufficient for your workloads’ requirements.
On the other hand, Kubernetes won’t solve the networking challenges of hybrid cloud. In fact, in some ways Kubernetes exacerbates hybrid cloud networking challenges because it requires you to configure a network plugin that can support a multi-site deployment, which adds complexity to your networking configuration. You can address this challenge, but you’ll need a more-than-superficial understanding of Kubernetes networking.
Hybrid cloud vendor frameworks
Another type of solution for simplifying hybrid cloud environments is hybrid cloud frameworks from the cloud vendors themselves – such as AWS Outposts, Azure Arc and Google Anthos.
These frameworks let you run public cloud services on private infrastructure. That means that you can, for example, use AWS Lambda to deploy serverless functions on servers that you host in your own data center, or use CloudWatch to monitor workloads running on-premises and in the public cloud at the same time.
These frameworks therefore simplify the hybrid cloud management challenge. They can also facilitate scalability because they make it easy to move workloads between public and private infrastructure with virtually no reconfiguration required.
As for network performance, platforms like AWS Outposts or Google Anthos won’t solve that challenge directly. However, you can use cloud vendors’ networking services, like AWS Direct Connect and Azure ExpressRoute, to establish high-performance connections between a private data center and the public cloud. This approach allows you to achieve lower latency, higher bandwidth and higher reliability than the public Internet connections that you would otherwise depend on to connect your hybrid cloud environment.
You can also improve hybrid cloud networking using tools like JFrog Distribution, which helps to distribute artifacts efficiently across disparate public cloud and on-prem locations.
Hybrid Distribution as part of JFrog Platform on the cloud, supports the distribution of your Release Bundles from JFrog Distribution on the cloud to multiple Cloud and On-Prem Edge nodes within the same organization. Enterprise customers can develop their software using the JFrog Platform on the cloud while gaining the flexibility of consuming the software on the Cloud and On-Prem.
Hybrid Distribution supports:
- Balancing your distribution workloads in response to changing workloads, new challenges, and increasing security requirements.
- Distributing sensitive, highly regulated, and mission critical Release Bundles to Artifactory On-Prem Edges while using the JFrog Platform on the cloud for mainstream public distributions and thereby gaining significant cost savings.
Image source: https://www.jfrog.com/confluence/display/JFROG/Hybrid+Distribution
Getting started with hybrid cloud
Hybrid clouds are inherently challenging when it comes to management, scalability and network performance. The good news, however, is that newer technologies, like Kubernetes and the cloud vendors’ hybrid cloud platforms, make it much easier to run a hybrid cloud today than it was five or six years ago.
So, if you shied away from hybrid cloud in the past because it just didn’t seem practical, think again. Today, you can take full advantage of hybrid cloud tools and cloud native technologies at the same time.