October 28, 2020 By Dave Tropeano 3 min read

Oftentimes, people looking to merge their cloud environments initially confuse hybrid cloud with meaning the same as multicloud.

In fact, I think the key issue with understanding hybrid cloud involves private cloud. I’ll explain further by covering some scenarios below.

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When you should merge private cloud

Private cloud is fundamentally software. With a private cloud solution, you’re installing a bundle of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) services on premises that a vendor created, along with a cloud-like dashboard with a dedicated user interface. That cloud lives only inside your private network or your on-premises environment.

Having multiple data centers leads to having multiple private clouds that are completely separate. That situation means you have multiple separate user interfaces or dashboards. Everything that you operate — from a message queue to a Kubernetes service to a SQL database — you or someone you hire are responsible for performing the following tasks in every dashboard:

  • Management
  • Release lifecycle updates
  • Patch initiation
  • Security and reliability issues

When you don’t want to merge: Air gaps

You may want to have this situation. Some industries (such as intelligence) require you to have an air gap. This solution uses a private cloud to avoid any connection to the outside world. You install a bundle of PaaS services provided by your private cloud or PaaS vendor and run those services completely disconnected from everything else. It’s your private network.

Otherwise, you’re spending extra time and costs having to update all your dashboards. Better solutions exist for branching the gap between your cloud environments.

Private cloud helped by hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud lets you combine multiple private clouds and public clouds in interesting configurations. By definition, there’s a private cloud component in hybrid cloud. Otherwise, it’s all public. That private cloud component is another way of saying, “Packaged software that you can get to manage.”

Distributed cloud and private cloud: The differences

Distributed cloud is also helpful to managing private cloud. The distinction between a distributed cloud and private cloud approach is that a public cloud vendor manages distributed cloud completely. At the same time, a distributed cloud runs on-premises. This setup means the public cloud vendor has oversight responsibilities — not you. You go to the public cloud interface for your dashboards, logging, monitoring, aggregation of events, etc.

Software-defined networking in a wide area network (SD-WAN) and other networking technologies are still the way to connect multiple locations, private clouds and so on. But this network connectivity doesn’t mean integrated software and services. You can install an SD-WAN to create a private network mesh over multiple data centers and locations, but you still have several versions of the same set of services running in those locations, and you have to manage their lifecycles separately.

So, your problem is drift. It’s too easy to have drift across the locations with services and applications in different versions, and drift is expensive to manage. That’s where distributed cloud can help you.

Merging with distributed cloud and hybrid cloud

Distributed cloud is an emerging market that brings the public cloud experience to your private cloud environments. Your distributed cloud vendor has an operations staff who take care of all of your patching, upgrading, maintenance and more. This maintenance staff for your private cloud environments can be considerably sized, depending on how many PaaS services you’re using.

We like to think of distributed cloud as being kind of a “Hybrid 2.0,” because if everything is public to manage on a single control plane, then it’s easier to bridge services across multiple clouds and applications. But hybrid is also about bridging and merging multiple clouds, including public, private and even distributed clouds. The difference is that distributed cloud offers more consistency, visibility and easy management among your cloud environments.

The following video gives more of an explanation of distributed cloud:

If you have workloads running on IBM Cloud and other public clouds from different vendors, you can handle merging these environments if you’re willing to run the distributed cloud solution everywhere. For example, if you run distributed cloud on top of AWS EC2 virtual machines, GCP virtual machines and on-premises, you’ve got exactly the same software running everywhere. And, you don’t have to maintain the software — the vendor does.

Learn more about IBM Cloud Satellite

Distributed cloud helps you gets work done across public and private clouds with less friction. IBM Cloud Satellite is a distributed cloud offering that brings IBM Cloud services like managed Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Cloud to the infrastructure of your choice.

Learn more about IBM Cloud Satellite and join the ongoing beta.

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