Hybrid IT Solution
Hybrid IT Solutions are the IT Solutions that are based on a combination of multiple technology components. These “components” are basically the Programming languages\Runtime Environments & hosting infrastructure (on-premises, cloud-based, etc.) used in an IT Solution.
An IT Solution is Hybrid if the either the Programming or Hosting Platform or both have a multitude of these parameters.
In this article, we will try to elaborate separately for Infrastructure and Technology Stack (Programming\Runtime).
Evolution of IT Infrastructure
In the initial era, IT software solutions were mostly device based (local) singular applications intended to provide basic functionalities where data storage, processing, etc. were all managed from the same assembly.
As networking & connectivity technologies (LAN\MAN\WAN\WWW) evolved, IT solution architecture model matured into solutions comprised of multiple interlinked applications\services having specific purposes like web hosting, databases, security, etc. This gave rise to a boom in the establishment of private and collaborative datacentres.
“Optimization is the Natural\Organic course of Evolution” and IT evolved accordingly with Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) which empathised re-usability and need-based service models which led to the birth of Cloud-based services as an alternative for On-Premises services.
Difference between On-Premises and Cloud-based Services
Nowadays, the basic difference between on-premises and cloud-based models is relatively clear to a most people but the confusion is mostly in the part of understanding on what on-premises really means.
Just because an application or service is reachable\usable over the web does not make it cloud-based, it only makes it cloud accessible. In the true sense, an on-premises solution is one where the hosting platform\infrastructure is managed by the same party that uses the business application(s) hosted on the platform’s server(s) privately or publicly.
A simple example of this is the initial version of Microsoft Dynamics where any organization wanting to use it as its CRM needed to first setup one or more Microsoft Windows Servers with Active Directory Services (ADS), IIS Web Server Roles and at least one Microsoft SQL Server. Here, the user organization could choose whether to make Dynamics accessible locally (LAN) or over web via IFD (Internet Facing Deployment). In either case, the solution will be an on-premises one if the hosting services\servers are managed by the organization itself.
Taking the same example forward, the organization could have the same version of Microsoft Dynamics available as a cloud-based solution if it deploys the ADS, IIS & SQL on Windows Servers that are based on a cloud service like for example an Amazon Web Services (AWS) provided Virtual Machine (VM).
In a nutshell, “IT Solution having combination of On-Premises & Online Services is a Hybrid Infrastructure Solution.”
As explained earlier, the primary difference between On-Premises and Cloud-based comes from the infrastructure used for hosting of a service and majority if not all services can be setup in either layout. But in many cases, the most efficient model is to intelligently choose the platform for each of the associated services on its own merit individually to have a Hybrid Solution which, when selected intelligently, gives the best of both worlds (on-premises & cloud).
Typically, infrastructure is defined in the very initial ‘Design Phase’ of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) of an IT Solution where the primary driving factors are the solution’s business requirements in terms of High Availability, Security, Scalability, Budget, and Criteria of Usage.
Key Advantage of Hybrid Infrastructure
By design, Hybrid Infrastructure comes with design flexibility for allowing different components to interact with each other (usually based on loose coupling) which provides architectural capabilities for easy migration & up\down scaling.
Challenges of Hybrid Infrastructure
It is possible that Hybrid Infrastructure may prove to be frugal and flexible for hosting\subscription, but it can lead to additional effort and compatibility complications on the administrative operational and maintenance front.
Programming languages have been around since late 1950’s in the form of Fortran, Pascal, etc. that were very purpose specific, but nowadays a wide variety of languages and frameworks are available for developing software applications.
Microsoft and JAVA are some of the most popular, widely used platforms in today’s IT industry and Technology Stack is a nomenclature often used for determining the platform used at the core for developing (and therefore the base runtime environment) of a technology application or solution.
Typically, an IT Solution is comprised of a 3-Tier Architecture having 3 Layers (as shown in diagram here), namely Data, Business and User. Based on the business\functional requirements, an IT solution can have lesser layers (for example, a plain yellow-page type info website may not have a Business Layer because no processing logic is required and similarly a back-end service may not require any Front-End User Interface and would therefore not have a user layer) but would not have an additional fourth layer.
On this basis, a technology stack is a composition of software services\tools that can work with each other to deliver the functionalities of these layers, which is (at a high level) data storage, logical processing, and user interface.
Here, we will elaborate on two of the most popular Technology Stacks:
Microsoft’s Programming framework is known as .NET (aka DOTNET) which comes with a multilingual capability meaning that it accommodates usage of multiple programming languages like C#.NET, VB.NET, J#.NET and F#.NET and the latest version of ‘.NET’ is ‘.NET Core’. This framework provides the ability to address to both Business and User Layers through its specialized classes like ASP.NET, ADO.NET, etc. and using the same framework runtime, Microsoft SQL Server caters to the Data Layer.
In a classic (On-Premises) model, a Microsoft Stack based web solution would have been comprised of Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft ASP.NET and a Microsoft Windows Server (IIS, etc.). However, with the modern Cloud-based approach where on-demand, need-based, managed, and other considerations have a prevalence, Microsoft’s Stack has evolved through its Azure \ Microsoft 365 range with a wide range of ready-to-use business & individual user applications and services like Dynamics 365, PowerApps, SharePoint, Data Verse, etc.
Hybrid Technology Stack
Like Hybrid Infrastructure, an “IT Solution having a combination of multiple Technology Stacks like Microsoft and MEAN is a Hybrid Technology Stack Solution.”
As mentioned earlier, an IT Solution is called Hybrid when it uses different Programming or Hosting Platform, so a truly Hybrid solution is the one that uses both.
An example of Fully Hybrid IT Solution is Soluzione’s Insurance Brokerage and Management Solution named INSURIENT whose technology stack includes Microsoft PowerApps, .NET Code, MongoDB, Angular JS and Node JS while the hosting includes Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.