Scaling your own compute environments up and out can be capital-intensive and require you to invest a lot of time in product research, vendor, logistics, and space management. This is equally applicable to colocation and on-premises compute islands. Predicting and planning for growth itself is an imprecise process complicated by corporate purchase cycles and vendor roadmaps. A key challenge is designing and investing for peak usage cycles that typically leave assets underutilized most of the time. Virtualization, in part, addresses utilization as well as providing other benefits, but remains a complex technology that creates additional burdens for corporate IT teams.
A hybrid IT model addresses this by outsourcing the burden of scalability to cloud organizations like CenturyLink, whose business model and expertise are premised on this capability. What’s more, whether a public or private cloud format, cloud providers have economies of scale unmatched by the vast majority of enterprises.
The importance of scalability and elasticity in cloud computing comes down to environment adaptability. Elasticity and scalability are key drivers for businesses and understanding how each works is important given the need to expand or constrict resources when necessary. The ability to scale-up and scale-out within private compute environments requires significant time and monetary investment in product research, vendor, logistics, and space management. When workload volumes increase, the allocation and adding of additional resources becomes paramount to meet demand. Should that demand decrease, businesses must have the ability to scale back and reallocate resources. Cloud computing is composed of agile business practices that combine self-service, on-demand delivery of computing resources, and the pooling of alloted resources. This is equally applicable to colocation and on-premises compute islands. Predicting and planning for growth itself is an imprecise process complicated by corporate purchase cycles and vendor roadmaps coupled with the architecture design and management. A key challenge is designing in — and investing for — peak usage cycles that typically leaves assets underutilized.
Elasticity in cloud infrastructure is predicated on enabling the hypervisor to generate virtual machines and containers with the resources to meet demand in real-time. Scalability, on the other hand, is best discussed at the application layer, which showcases the capability of a system, network, or work-flow process to handle increasing or decreasing workloads to accommodate the needs of the business in real-time. Scalability relies on elasticity in two ways. The first is by Scaling Vertically (Scale-Up), which works with applications in an elastic environment by moving the app to a bigger VM or by simply resizing the VM. The second method is by Scaling Horizontally (Scale-Out), which provisions more instances of the application tiers to additional VMs and then balancing the load between them. Horizontal scaling is similar to elasticity as it allows the reorganization of the resources between apps via provisioning. Horizontal scaling and elasticity are co-dependent, but the app must be able to scale by adding more nodes and by distributing the workload.
For apps with uneven usage patterns or even usage spikes having built in elasticity and scalability is critical. This is where virtualization comes into play at CenturyLink. Applications designed to adjust to variations and accommodate real-time demand for resources, such as bandwidth, storage and compute power are a must. Virtualization in part addresses utilization as well as providing other benefits, but remains a complex technology that creates additional burdens for corporate IT teams. A hybrid IT model addresses this by outsourcing the burden of scalability to cloud organizations like CenturyLink whose business model and expertise are premised on this capability. What’s more, whether a public or private cloud format, cloud providers have economies of scale unmatched by the vast majority of enterprises.
Network Exchange provides a high-speed and reliable solution that allows you to create and utilize hybrid solutions across platforms like CenturyLink Cloud and Dedicated Cloud Compute to transfer data and run applications between environments seamlessly.
A key element of success in a hyper-competitive business world is creating close relationships with customers and delivering capabilities "at the edge". Businesses delivering online services in a global economy require local presence – a difficult and expensive proposition in a time of shrinking IT budgets. This makes Hybrid cloud particularly valuable for dynamic and constantly changing workloads. Once deployed, services and content must be managed from central locations in a secure and reliable way.
Ultimately, end users benefit from higher performing systems and have a better experience with services than connecting over long distances by keeping a primary data center and establishing hybrid cloud nodes wherever the auxiliary facilities are located. In an ever-changing market where business needs change often, it's less of a burden to migrate from one data center location to another.
Cloud providers like CenturyLink provide presence in the top IT markets globally. Location-specific workloads are a priority at CenturyLink because there are many instances where applications and data must be processed and delivered from a nearby data center to another location. For example, a transactional order entry system across multiple geographic areas might experience significant demand spikes, which makes it is a good hybrid cloud candidate. Applications running in the private cloud would need to leverage public cloud computing resources during these spikes. Another related issue is compliance with country regulations regarding where data is geographically stored.
Businesses opening a remote office, accessing apps away from primary data center locations, accessing latency sensitive applications (in the finance or healthcare industry), utilizing backup and disaster recovery, and adhering to compliance standards related to the location, transmission, and storage of data are all top-of-mind elements. Coupling these considerations with centralized IT for backend processing and content sourcing provides a practical hybrid IT model that minimizes investment and allows businesses to focus on value-add IT while offloading non-core work such as infrastructure.
Updating skill-sets alone can be a barrier to adoption and create a drag on internal IT groups. ROI can be difficult to quantify and justify when the business impacts of such technologies cannot be determined in advance. Outsourcing specialized workloads to cloud providers like CenturyLink dramatically lowers technology and financial risk and represents a great opportunity to leverage Hybrid IT.
Cloud Service Providers assume this responsibility while enabling the customer to control their network and business at the SaaS or PaaS level. By taking inventory of the workloads, CenturyLink can determine the appropriate environment for a workload — especially if a business leverages the cloud as part of its array of IT environments.
This is where a hybrid IT strategy relieves businesses of the burden of retaining trained staff to manage data centers or on-premise application hosting environments. Another benefit of a Hybrid IT strategy and Network Exchange is that it enables businesses to match application workloads to where they will achieve the best performance and efficiency while meeting compliance requirements.
Understanding how specific facets of a business review their applications and documenting how and why they use them gives businesses more insight into their needs and problems. The goal is determining how to make sure they are in the right environment so they can perform optimally. Businesses conducting an effective inventory process can also identify any legacy applications performing poorly that may be candidates for a redesign to become cloud-compatible or migration to perform optimally in the cloud.
Key business decision-making drivers, like constantly changing regulations or efforts to aggressively control costs, can heavily influence standardized workload placement for a Hybrid IT strategy. Since there are many workloads deployed to non-cloud environments, which will likely stay there owing to a variety of reasons like not being 'cloud ready' or others that require a very costly reconfiguration and migration process to run properly in the cloud make workload placement a prominent topic for businesses.
Services such as email and collaboration and productivity applications are now widely available as SaaS offerings. The days of using capital investments and resources to maintain these facilities have passed, eliminated with the SaaS model. Offboarding non-critical applications to third parties also reduces surface area for third party attacks, which can be done more efficiently at scale. In this example of Hybrid IT, native IT resources can focus on business-critical applications, lowering IT spend and enabling greater focus.
Because the Hybrid IT environment is highly-dynamic, business and IT organizations must continually orchestrate the management and movement of workloads. Factors driving the shift in standardized workload management for businesses to different cloud models are also continuously changing in-line with changes affecting the competitive landscape. As such, requirements for cost savings, performance optimization, compliance, and regulation management and third party monitoring must also change.
In such a closely-regulated environment, large-scale workload management, location, resource allocation, and migration to the cloud is scrutinized through a detailed cost-benefit analysis lens. Building redundant data centers and managing them is expensive, as is fielding duplicative colocation deployments. Employing virtualized workloads in the cloud enables location diversity much more economically than can be done by the enterprise itself. This is particularly true when leveraging Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) offerings. While this is not Hybrid IT, strictly speaking, it shares the need for secure, reliable high bandwidth access on-demand to connect compute islands together.
Consider the various demands centered around compliance and regulatory standards on both a local and global scale and how these demands affect the workload-placement decision for a business. For example, a highly-regulated industry like health care, which is governed by HIPAA requirements, illustrates this explicitly.
Although HIPAA does not openly state the types of data that may or may not be hosted on various cloud types, it does set forth potentially huge penalties for instances where access to and the integrity, security, and safety of personal health information is not protected and in compliance with the latest standards. As an IT leader, CenturyLink understands that businesses and customers existing in highly-regulated sectors must operate carefully when deploying workloads in cloud environments while balancing risk and cost with on-premises private cloud and traditional non-cloud solutions.
Network Exchange is available to customers who already have or plan to create a CenturyLink Cloud account along with a valid endpoint to connect to, making it an ideal solution for experimental development and workloads. Customer have the ability to connect their CenturyLink Cloud VM’s to their CenturyLink Dedicated Cloud Compute (DCC) environment to deploy these workloads seamlessly.
Clouds are conducive to testing new development components including frameworks, languages, components such as databases, and virtualization itself. Traditional, tightly managed IT environments simply do not provide the same flexibility and ready access to technology. Because organizations and business are opting for off-premises cloud to utilize and leverage the flexibility, scalability, speed-to-deployment that comes with the cloud, and the 'Opex not Capex' spending model, the upsides of using a solution for new development and workload diversification remains strong. However, with the pay-as-you-go nature of cloud "fast fail" becomes real and practical. This can also reduce the cost of compliance by allowing more flexibility in the development process before certifying an application in a tightly controlled private environment. Better to test elsewhere without making large investments in time and funding to identify, obtain, deploy and master new technologies.
Additionally, net-new workloads involving significant iterative development cycles, testing, and prototyping for digital customers, and customer-facing initiatives find that migrating to a cloud deployment model enables them to tap into an improved time to market model with increased business agility, IT elasticity, and geographic reach.