One of my favorite questions to ask when doing interviews at Rackspace is “How would you explain the cloud to a non-technical friend or relative?” The goal, of course, is to take a complex concept and provide a simple explanation or analogy. I’d like to share an analogy that I think works well for hybrid cloud while providing a different frame for thinking about your scalability and security challenges.
Let’s say that you’re running a rapidly-growing company with a few hundred employees. You have no shortage of challenges to solve — including where your employees, contractors and interns will sit and collaborate. You have options on how to solve this — you can build or lease a building, get everyone their own office, set up cube farms in open spaces, take advantage of office hoteling where you share desks with other businesses, or have your employees work remotely.
Chances are that no single solution is optimal for everyone, but being able to pick and choose among these options can optimize for your specific needs and cost. Your legal team probably needs their own offices for privacy reasons. Many of your front-line employees can effectively work in an open floor plan that allows for secure collaboration. Your contractors and that rush of summer interns can “burst” into an offsite office hotel where you pay a flat, daily rate per desk. You can also accommodate remote employees.
Each option above is analogous to a compute workload:
- Single-tenant offices = Bare Metal Servers
- Cubical Area = Private Cloud
- Offsite Hotel = Public Cloud
- Remote Employee = VPN
At Rackspace, we define hybrid cloud as something that connects and helps secure any of the above under one support umbrella. Whether it’s a private cloud powered by OpenStack, VMWare, or Microsoft, traditional dedicated servers, the Rackspace public cloud, access to another datacenter, or even an individual at home connecting over a VPN, we can bring all of these together using a unique networking capability that we call RackConnect(tm). In terms of our analogy above, RackConnect is like a secure phone line between your employees no matter where they’re working.
Hybrid cloud’s real value is that it allows you the flexibility to host your applications and workloads in different configurations optimized for performance and budget.
For applications that require security, performance or high control, you can leverage traditional dedicated servers or private cloud. For bursting and test or development environments (among many other things), you can use the public cloud. RackConnect has the additional benefit of an additional layer of security to public cloud. By using a dedicated firewall and/or load balancer, you can add additional protection for your cloud servers. By leveraging cloud networks, all of your cloud servers are in single tenant, isolated networks in the cloud, meaning you’re the only customer on that network. If you can secure something in dedicated with something like an Intrusion Detection system (IDS) or a Web Application Firewall (WAF) or even Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS), you can do that in front of Cloud, too.
Rackspace brings all of this together under a single umbrella of support and expertise. We configure and help secure your hybrid cloud and can support every element of it with a single phone call or ticket.
As a business owner or IT decision maker, you have a lot of challenges to solve. Time and energy spent constructing and renovating offices is time and energy not directly spent building your business. Rackspace can help you save on cost while spending time and energy where it matters most.