What About Private Cloud?

25 Apr 2019
by: Randy Allen

Where Private Cloud fits in Apigee’s lineup

With Google Cloud Next ’19 fresh in everyone’s minds, it seems like all the focus is on hybrid cloud environments and containerized applications. It’s no wonder, then, that the Apigee team’s latest announcement is the upcoming beta release of their own hybrid solution. While Apigee Hybrid is shaping up to be its own distinct offering, it is in many ways a blend of their established deployment architectures: Apigee Cloud and Private Cloud. Since the Apigee Cloud model is generally considered to the be the de facto approach, many of us might find ourselves curious about the lesser-known ingredient of the Apigee Hybrid cocktail. What gives Private Cloud its own separate flavor, and why should some enterprises adopt it over Apigee Cloud (or even perhaps Apigee Hybrid)?

It might be helpful to first establish some terms. Whatever your choice of deployment method, the management platform is called “Apigee Edge.” Nevertheless, the terms “Apigee Cloud” and “Apigee Edge” are often used synonymously, so there’s room for a bit of confusion. On the other hand, the Private Cloud method might sometimes be referred to as “OPDK,” which is short for “on-premises deployment kit,” the toolset used to configure an instance of Apigee Edge in a Private Cloud environment. Regardless of word choices, the pivotal contrast is in whose datacenter the platform is running—Apigee’s or your own.

Benefits of the Private Cloud model

With the Apigee Cloud model usually treated as the “default,” OPDK can end up taking a back seat. But let’s examine some of the reasons you might find a Private Cloud implementation to be advantageous.

·        Speed (latency)

By shortening the route your API calls and similar tasks are following, a Private Cloud deployment will reduce latency. A process that might have started in an internal node, traveled out to one or more nodes on the Internet, and then returned to your environment in an Apigee Cloud deployment could be simplified to a series of internal hops that will be much faster. One factor to keep in mind when considering this sort of latency, however, is that Apigee does offer a managed cloud service called “API-DN” that leverages geographically-disparate data center locations to combat regional latency. Still, an OPDK deployment is rather likely to demonstrate a significant reduction in latency for internal use cases.

·        Security

One of the most frequent motives stated by enterprise decision-makers who find the OPDK installation more attractive is security. Now, the Apigee Cloud model is by no means insecure; they have, in fact, an obvious and deep commitment to security. This can be seen in their ever-growing litany of specific security features as well as the dedicated defense tool known as “Apigee Sense.”  All that being said, there is an undeniable, inherent security deliberation that must take place any time an enterprise chooses to take company data, processes, and operations out of a network under their control and place it in the outside world. Certain businesses have blanket policies about what items must remain on internal company resources, and plenty of them also have a considerable investment in data centers the drive those resources. The Private Cloud deployment is clearly advantageous for those enterprises that want to ensure the ultimate custodians of their sensitive information always remain in-house.

·        Internal development & administration

Not only does a Private Cloud deployment offer an increased control over security, but it also provides a natural avenue for development channels on internal networks. In cases where company policy dictates certain procedures must take place on internal networks, as well as cases where internal networks are a fundamental component of the security strategy, this deployment is the clear candidate. Additionally, in an OPDK setup, the Apigee Edge management is all handled on internal, company-owned resources. This isn’t just limited to administration of the Edge platform, nor does this aspect stop at API, proxy, and app development—it also includes Apigee’s robust Analytics Services data as well as any bespoke company data created by traffic across the Edge platform. As an organization modernizes and streamlines its API practices, the amount and value of this sort of data cannot be overstated.

Drawbacks of the Private Cloud model

·        Speed (versatility)

Ask anyone who’s configured Apigee Edge in both Apigee Cloud and Private Cloud scenarios, and you’re certain to hear something about how much more complicated the OPDK process is. It is undeniably easier to stand up Apigee Edge when the Apigee Cloud is handling a noticeable share of the burden. This agility remains a factor even after the deployment is complete, as your enterprise will always be able to implement new or altered functionality when unconstrained by internal network requirements or having to acquire hardware resources. In the cloud model, expanding your enterprise’s horsepower generally takes nothing more than an adjustment to your subscription. This doesn’t just enable upward growth, but also scaling back or temporary adjustments to meet the needs generated by events like conferences or product launches. Both deployment approaches allow for these sorts of changes after the initial installation is complete, but Private Cloud is without a doubt far less versatile in this respect.

·        Cost (total and initial)

Unlike many comparisons between an up-front and subscription pricing plan, the Apigee Edge platform doesn’t force you to choose between a smaller initial cost and a smaller total cost of ownership. In both cases, the Apigee Cloud comes out ahead. Simply put, purchasing the hardware, failover, support, and training required to get your OPDK implementation off the ground is going to require a larger up-front expenditure than subscribing to Apigee Cloud. In fact, Apigee’s guidelines indicate that an OPDK deployment can cost up to three times as much as a comparable Apigee Cloud deployment. While this does not mean that all enterprises should choose Apigee’s cloud over the Private one, it does serve to emphasize the importance of carefully weighing the pros and cons before committing to a strategy.

·        Scalability

The API world moves at a breakneck pace. One of the easiest mistakes to make is to underestimate this. The joy that is part and parcel of being an innovative provider in this marketplace is accompanied by the ever-present opportunity to get left behind. A platform like Apigee Edge mitigates this danger in all sorts of ways, and that mitigation is in many ways the core of Edge’s value. But while you can certainly expand or narrow your API offering with either deployment model, the Apigee Cloud has faster and more varied options when it comes to scaling. Additionally, disaster recovery and high availability are built into their distributed setup, taking yet another duty off your enterprise’s shoulders.

Asking the right questions

It should come as no surprise that the best person to determine if OPDK or Apigee Cloud is the right fit for you will always ultimately be yourself. The experts at Vanick Digital and the world-class development team at Apigee strive to make this decision easier for you to make, and one way we endeavor to do so is to arm you with the right questions. What would you like your API management platform to look like on the first day it’s stood-up? How about a year from then? Will your API and app developers and consumers all operate internally? What sort of existing security strategy will your Apigee Edge deployment need to match itself to? Would you like to handle the lion’s share of cost up-front or over time? What data center resources do you already have at your disposal? How do you anticipate your scaling needs to evolve, and over what span of time?

Even with Apigee Edge’s hybrid architecture just beginning to see the light of day, there are good arguments to be made for a deployment that’s all inside or all outside the Apigee Cloud. As is true of so many aspects of the rapidly-changing world of API’s, knowing your options is among a decision-makers’ most important responsibilities.

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