Just what is a hybrid cloud environment, and what does it mean for your business? We hear about the hybrid cloud transformation all the time, but it is sometimes hard to recognize the truth from the hype.
The reality is most enterprises and mid-size organizations are probably already using some type of public/private cloud infrastructure that runs in parallel with their traditional dedicated server environment. That’s because most users want the flexibility, speed and cost benefits of public cloud services with the control, security and performance of private cloud. That’s exactly where hybrid cloud and multi-cloud infrastructure come into play.
Hybrid cloud adoption ↑ resource spend ↓
And the hybrid cloud adoption trend shows signs of increasing! Gartner predicts that by 2016 hybrid cloud growth will increase to become the bulk of new IT spend. They believe 2016 will be a defining year for cloud as private cloud begins to give way to hybrid cloud, and nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017 (Source: Gartner, Inc).
Check your list twice
If you’re considering transitioning to a hybrid cloud environment or adding private networks for a special project (i.e. running your new testing environment on cloud servers while your production environment runs on dedicated servers behind your own firewall) here is a checklist, including tips, to help you along the way.
- Evaluate your needs – The hybrid model gives you the flexibility to migrate workloads between on-site and off-site environments based on the dynamic nature of your business and requirements. This alone delivers a tremendous amount of flexibility to any organization. The challenge comes in properly evaluating your data to determine what applications can be securely transitioned to the public cloud vs. those mission-critical applications or systems that should remain on-premise or private due to availability demands or security considerations. Specifically, it’s important that you evaluate your environment and outline what data your organization collects, stores and shares.
- Security, compliance and regulatory requirements- For instance, does your organization need to comply with industry-specific regulatory requirements for storing and sharing data? Of course, there’s the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) but there’s also Payment Card Industry (PCI) regulations that can impact small businesses. As part of this industry, your organization may share responsibility and accountability for keeping customer data secure.
- Build a cloud roadmap- It’s important to map out policies as to which applications and data should be run on dedicated servers compared to those that can be transitioned to a private or public cloud. Heavily used applications and mission critical applications are generally run in-house or are private cloud candidates (i.e. your CRM system or BI analytics systems).
For example, do you need to the ability to spin up test servers or prepare for extra capacity for a new product or application launch? This could be the perfect application for a cloud because you can rapidly scale up as traffic grows. As you build your roadmap it’s important to consider performance and availability conditions as well as service level guarantees required. It’s also a good idea to start your cloud implementation on a small scale with a controlled number of users. Run non-mission-critical applications on public clouds to assess cost savings and benefits. Then, you can test new services and outline migration plans as your objectives change and your business grows.
- Consider vendor options- With a hybrid cloud model you have both on-premise resources and remote server-based resources. When transitioning legacy applications to the cloud, a managed hosting provider can deliver the experience necessary for a smooth migration and have guarantees around security, stability and performance during the transition. They can provide the resources to accelerate the transition and minimize risks. With an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform, including virtualized servers, storage, memory and bandwidth, you have built in guaranteed service levels and you’ll be set up for a more cost-effective model in the long term.
Providers such as Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Red Shift, are also making hybrid cloud infrastructure a cost-effective reality for businesses today. These providers allow organizations to manage large volumes of data and applications in the most efficient way possible. If you are considering one of these cloud providers, consider which can best integrate into your current tool sets. Many organizations have several point-to-point interfaces in their data infrastructure, which can be a challenge without proper planning. By integrating these systems with your current platform, it’s also possible to utilize tools you already have and minimize knowledge gaps when setting up the platform.
A hybrid cloud infrastructure offers a unified model and greater flexibility for today’s complex business environment. Considering a move to a hybrid cloud− or expanding your presence in the cloud− will not only reduce costs for your organization, it also offers greater flexibility, along with the security and performance of dedicated servers or private cloud.