AWS Hybrid Cloud is a Scalable, Cost-effective Bridge Between Environments

By Colby Dyess | February 03, 2014

A growing number of businesses are interested in enhancing their data center or on-premises IT systems with public cloud resources. To this end, an AWS hybrid cloud, which can span both private and public resources, may be essential to ensuring that these setups facilitate superior application development and testing environments at a reasonable cost. With hybrid cloud revenue set to rise sharply over the next four years, more vendors are offering related solutions that are easy to integrate into existing infrastructure.

Switching to Hybrid Cloud Saves a Seattle Startup Millions per Year

The hybrid cloud is versatile, providing IT managers with options that they wouldn't have when sticking to purely public or private deployments. More companies are realizing the hybrid advantage, as shown by one startup's decision to hybridize its infrastructure in order to save more money and efficiently balance workloads between environments.

Moz, a Seattle startup that makes marketing software, decided to move away from public cloud because of cost considerations. Instead, it built a private cloud while leaving roughly 2,000 servers still in Amazon Web Services. The company will still spin up instances to AWS as needed, but for longer, stateful processing and applications that require 24/7 availability, Moz has purchased its own hardware. It expects to save millions by using a hybrid cloud and may use its new data center setup to invest in hot backup. The move should also boost the company's profitability, which took a hit in recent years due to rising cloud expenses.

"Our gross profit margin had eroded to [around] 64 percent, and as of December, it's approaching 74 percent," stated Moz CEO Sarah Bird, according to GeekWire. "We're shooting for 80+ percent, and I know we'll get there in 2014."

What Other Benefits do Buyers get from Hybrid Clouds?

For starters, they get a firmer handle on costs. Public cloud services are typically pay-as-you-go, an arrangement that can be useful for variable workloads where scalability is a requirement, but pressure may mount on the bottom line as applications require additional resources and money. In contrast, software for setting up and operating a hybrid cloud, such as Eucalyptus, has a fixed cost model. This arrangement gives companies a better grasp of cloud operating expenses providing more opportunities to monitor, customize, and fine-tune hardware. By leveraging the de facto standard that are the AWS APIs, Eucalyptus infrastructure can leverage the scalability of AWS, resulting in an environment that can more readily handle capacity bursting, disaster recovery and rapid deployment of instances for testing and development.

What's more, the open source nature of hybrid cloud software makes it much easier to port applications across environments. Writing for Forbes, Red Hat strategist Gordon Haff recommended open source platforms for making it easier to manage the intricacies of on- and off-premises infrastructure.

"The challenge of hybrid is to avoid creating isolated islands that can't communicate or exchange data," wrote Haff. "My advice is to maximize the portability of applications and data among different providers and between on-premise infrastructure and off-premise providers."

On top of that, open solutions may contribute to more flexible operations. Since organizations benefit from abundant options for synthesizing public and private platforms, they can create versatile, modifiable setups that may reduce the risk of employees going behind the IT department's back to access functionality not found in a completely locked-down implementation.

The Power of Open Source Software for the Hybrid Cloud

Since Eucalyptus is open source software, it serves as an open reference implementation for AWS compatibility. Organizations don't have to worry about being locked in with a particular vendor and can instead get to work on setting up infrastructure that enables application and data portability. In many cases, a company will need to set up a single private cloud and move assets between it and AWS, and Eucalyptus makes this a straightforward and cost-effective process.

Customers get to choose which environment is ideal for particular applications and data, achieving a "best of both worlds" scenario for development and testing. Even if their companies have made a significant investment in hardware, they can run open source software on top of it and tap into AWS functionality, creating a bridge between existing infrastructure and the public cloud.

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