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How do hybrid cloud architecture types differ?

There are three ways to implement hybrid cloud storage, and the biggest difference between them comes down to management.

A hybrid cloud architecture allows some storage resources to be handled in-house while also utilizing a public or private cloud for certain data. An organization will often choose a hybrid approach to take advantage of the scalability and low cost of cloud storage while keeping mission-critical or sensitive data on-premises.

While a private to public cloud storage approach is what most IT pros think about when discussing hybrid cloud storage, it is just one method. Marc Staimer, founder and senior analyst at Dragon Slayer Consulting, outlines the three different ways below.

Private cloud to public cloud

This type of hybrid cloud architecture has commercial or open source object storage implemented as a private storage cloud in the user's data center or infrastructure as a service data center. The cloud is then linked over the WAN or Internet to a public storage cloud using a standard API. An example of this is EMC's Atmos, implemented as a private cloud with some customers federated (interconnected) to one or more service providers utilizing Atmos object storage as their public cloud.

Another example is a private cloud based on open source OpenStack Swift object storage federating to HP Cloud Storage also based on OpenStack Swift. Yet, a third example is a private cloud based on one of the many commercial offerings that has an Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) interface federating to Amazon S3 Cloud Storage.

Local cloud gateway to public or private cloud

Using a local cloud gateway or cloud-integrated storage (CIS) to get to public or private cloud storage is an approach that makes the storage cloud look and appear as a SAN or NAS. The local storage acts and functions like standard iSCSI, NFS or CIFS storage. It stores or caches the data locally for a defined period of time. It also creates zero-capacity snapshot copies and replicates data to the cloud storage.

As data ages out, it is removed from the local cache but remains in the storage cloud. To the applications and users, the data appears to be available locally, even when in the cloud. This can be especially useful if the CIS has the same performance as typical primary storage systems. In that situation, the data is automatically moved from the cloud to the application, and always appears local. If the CIS lacks the performance or feature functionality to be the primary storage, the data must be migrated from the primary storage to the CIS before it can move to the public cloud. This makes the CIS hybrid storage cloud somewhat inconvenient.

Examples of a CIS hybrid cloud are Avere to Amazon S3 or any other S3-compatible storage cloud; Microsoft StorSimple to Azure; Nasuni to Amazon S3 or Azure; or Panzura to HP or Amazon S3.

Public cloud extended to a local environment

Extending a public storage cloud to the local environment has two flavors. The first has the service provider managing the entire public and private portions of the hybrid cloud. The second is a shared responsibility where the service provider manages the public cloud and the customer manages the private cloud. Similar to private to public cloud storage, both parts are provided by the service provider.

An example of this comes from Joyent Inc. and its Manta Cloud Storage. The vendor has an on-premises Manta offering that transparently extends its public storage cloud.

Next Steps

Getting rid of the public provider in a hybrid cloud

Steps to deploying a hybrid cloud model

This was last published in October 2014

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