Hybrid Cloud Architecture 101: Dream It, Build It

Gone are the days of being limited in your architecture choices. Today you can pick the best-fit technologies and platforms and mash them together for a hybrid outcome to your problems. I’ve said before that enterprises need to have ONE cloud strategy, and that hybrid cloud, like happiness, isn’t something that money can buy, it’s a choice. Once you make that hybrid cloud choice and change your mindset, you’ll be well on your way to a great hybrid outcome.

If all you need is public cloud to meet your business and customer needs, great! You’re in a growing (and many would say fortunate) group of organizations that don’t have many of the challenges that hold some people back from building everything in the public cloud. Most likely you’re among the majority that is still dealing with outdated security/regulatory policies in your organization or industry. Meanwhile, you’re wrestling with your customers’ perceptions of having their data in a public cloud or a specific location, or performance requirements, or a whole list of other concerns that we hear from our customers when they think about using public cloud.

Rackspace grew up as a provider of dedicated servers, backed by our award-winning Fanatical Support®. We later added virtualization, public cloud, private cloud and a whole portfolio of technologies and capabilities that tie those platforms together to give you a great outcome. One of those technologies is called RackConnect, which has been around for a few years and has helped a long list of customers with a hybrid cloud outcome.

Until recently, many of you thought about hybrid as a combination of dedicated servers and public cloud, connected on private interfaces over our service network through RackConnect. Since last year, we’ve helped a number of customers move to the next level of hybrid. These innovative customers are moving beyond thinking about it purely from a network connectivity perspective between named devices, and thinking big picture in terms of pools of resources across public, private and dedicated infrastructure to get the right blend of performance for their business.

Building modern hybrid applications requires being able to “talk” to all of the resources you have available to you using some kind of automation or orchestration tool(s). These resources could be bare metal machines, virtualized machines, OpenStack-powered public or private clouds, load balancers or even a next generation platform like MongoDB as a Service.

Some services and platforms might be directly (cross) connected on a physical network, some may use a software-defined private network and some may cross the public (Internet) network to communicate with each other. In the past, many companies relied on the physical network security to protect their applications. Modern applications built for cloud architect security at all layers in the stack, especially at the application layer – because this is where the hybrid collection of resources comes together to become something. The days of one application on one server on one network are long gone. If you’ve adopted a hybrid mindset, you need to think about what combination of resources will best serve your application needs.

A great example of a Rackspace customer that has made the choice for hybrid cloud and is getting tremendous value from that choice is HubSpot (check out the video). HubSpot is using bare metal, private cloud and public cloud, along with an automation and orchestration tool they’ve built internally called RainMaker (see the demo video) that deploys, configures and tests its application in minutes to all of the hybrid resources available to them, on-demand, with complete control and visibility along the way.

HubSpot’s big data can run on bare metal, the customer back-end can run on the private cloud and the web-scale front end can run on the public cloud to burst as needed. Some of those resources are directly connected, and some communicate over the Internet – security is implemented at every layer, not just at the network. To the end user, it’s transparent; it just works. To the HubSpot developers (and as a result, HubSpot’s customers and the business), it’s magic. There are no handcuffs on what they can build with this hybrid mindset – they can go from idea to production in 30 minutes, and they are pushing new code to production as many as 75 times a day! Read the full HubSpot case study.

So where are the architecture diagrams in this “hybrid cloud architecture 101” blog post? I didn’t want to post any, because that limits your thinking. It’s like a box of random Legos versus a “kit” of Legos designed to build a specific thing. Sure, we have a ton of reference architectures and case studies to share, but first you need to start thinking about hybrid cloud as a box of various Lego blocks. Those are your resources, and you need to think about how you can assemble those resources to build what you want. If you can dream it, you can build it.

Put the limitations of traditional infrastructure silos behind you. Get in front of the whiteboard and start drawing out how you want your application to look if you had no infrastructure limits. If you already have an application running in an environment that is 100 percent public cloud, 100 percent private cloud, 100 percent dedicated or 100 percent virtual, and you’re hitting a wall, we can help with that too. In fact, most of our hybrid cloud customers got started in exactly that way – we helped them make the choice to find the best hybrid fit for their applications.

Take a picture of your whiteboard creation or your current architecture and send it to me on Twitter (@scottsanchez) or by email (scott.sanchez at rackspace.com). We will help you put the right blocks in the right spots to make your hybrid dream a reality.

Follow Scott on Twitter: @scottsanchez


  1. With your recent acquisition of Redis-To-Go, is that service available via RackConnect? Love the idea of offloading our Redis cache to a managed service, but need it to be a super-fast connection to our dedicated servers. Thanks.


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