Keith Bromley
Sr. Manager, Product Marketing at Ixia
Blog

Hybrid Cloud: The ABCs of Network Visibility

January 18, 2019 by Keith Bromley

Have you heard the term Hybrid cloud and wondered what it really means? For instance, what is it a hybrid of? Is it complicated? Do I really want one? If these are questions that you are asking, you’re in luck! We have straight forward answers for you.

What is a Hybrid Cloud?

From a monitoring perspective, a hybrid cloud network is the combination of physical on-premises technology with public cloud-based technology. Instead of running the two networks separately, you perform an integration that let’s you share capabilities and data across the two networks. This hybrid scenario can be temporary or long term, depending upon your goals.

The reason for creating a hybrid scenario is simple. While the independent technologies both have advantages, they also have disadvantages. A merger between the two networks will allow you to benefit from the advantages that both technologies can offer.

For instance, with respect to a physical on-premises environment, here is a brief summary of advantages and disadvantages:

 

Advantages Disadvantages
  1. You have complete control of infrastructure hardware
  1. Takes longer to create and launch new network applications
  1. You have complete (anytime) access to the infrastructure to install taps & packet brokers
  1. Most enterprise configurations do not support integrated orchestration and automation
  1. You can continue to use existing security and monitoring tools to maximize your ROI
  1. Upfront costs are usually more expensive
  1. For an existing system, the on-premises network is already built and reliable
  1. Costs appear as a CAPEX expense instead of an OPEX expense
  1. There is an extensive array of security and monitoring tools
 

For public cloud computing environments, here is a brief summary of those advantages and disadvantages:

 

Advantages Disadvantages
  1. Easier and faster to spin up new applications
  1. You have no control of infrastructure hardware which means some tools (e.g. IPS) won’t work the same in the cloud as they do on-prem
  1. Give you an opportunity to use cutting edge technology
  1. Cloud personnel have a lack of experience with security and monitoring best practices
  1. Provides potential cost savings for new functionality rollouts
  1. Cloud vendor performance problems become your network performance problems
  1. Allows you to convert new technology expenses to OPEX expenses
  1. Duplicate costs to buy new versions of on-prem security and monitoring tools for your cloud
 
  1. There is not always a cloud equivalent of a security or monitoring tool that is needed
 

 

  1. Cost savings for cloud solutions can disappear when applications need to run 24 hours per day

Typical Use Cases

Here are some specific situations in which Hybrid clouds are particularly useful.

Optimizing your network to empower the speed of business – A fundamental use case for a hybrid cloud is to enable new applications for internal and external customers. Public cloud solutions give you the capability to spin up new applications fast. However, you will need to maintain security, compliance, and mission critical functions to reduce risk and ensure network availability. These functions are best run in an on-premises environment where you can control the necessary factors. In fact, you probably already have this capability set up and running from your pre-cloud network. With this use case, you can combine the two networks to work as one. Basically, you run the two networks quasi-independent but then backhaul key data from the cloud to you existing on-premises solution for compliance, security and other functions as required.

Performance monitoring as you migrate to the cloud – Instead of wondering how new functionality will work in the cloud, you can use simulated traffic loads on your cloud network first to see what the impact is to memory, performance, and operations. In fact, you can simulate the application load on your on-premises as a baseline and then compare the on-premises performance to cloud performance to get a delta as to how the two systems will behave.

Controlling monitoring tool costs – Another use case is to backhaul monitoring data from your cloud network to your on-premises network. That monitoring data can then be combined with any on-premises monitoring data and sent to existing on-premises security and monitoring tools. This allows you to extend the life of the on-premises tools and maximize the return on investment from those purchases. Otherwise, you may find yourself buying duplicate tools for each environment that results in double the necessary cost.

Considerations

When it comes to hybrid networks, here are some other things to keep in mind about monitoring your network:

Network Security – It should be stated that network security solutions are not the same for the cloud as with physical on-premises. So, if you are interested in using an IPS or other inline security tool to analyze data before it enters your network, you will be disappointed in the cloud. Most public cloud vendors will not allow you to have access to the infrastructure to install inline security tools, as that becomes a security risk for them.

Performance – As mentioned earlier, there may be significant performance problems when you migrate to the cloud. You will need to understand what functionality is better off left unmoved. This means that you may want to move dynamic elements to the cloud and keep mission critical components on-premises.

Employee Skillsets – Make sure you have employees with the right skillsets. If you put elements of your network in the cloud, you will want to have cloud computing experts to run those pieces of your network. At the same time, you will want to keep your current compliance, security and monitoring experts so that you have confidence that you are not creating new, and potentially serious, issues for yourself by adopting cloud technology.

Complexity – Something else to consider is that complexity means increased costs. As an example, moving everything to the cloud may sound like a great idea but what happens if your cloud vendor goes out of service? You have no controls over how long the outage will be. One way some IT departments hedge their bet is to use multiple cloud vendors. This approach adds complexity though. For instance, are you going to mirror data between the two vendors? What about file storage? If one vendor goes out of service, do you have the right types of services and capabilities in both (or more) vendor networks. How about the cost to transmit data copies between networks? The key point is that complexity increases costs.

More Information on Hybrid Clouds

When physical data monitoring solutions are combined with public cloud solutions, this can create a very formiddable solution by blending the best of both worlds. Speed, agility, reliability and costs can be optimized at the speed of business with hybrid cloud solutions.

More information about Ixia network performance, network security and network visibility solutions and how they can help generate the insight needed for your business is available on the Ixia website.