Hybrid Cloud Considerations
Business needs must be top-of-mind in the planning stage
“The cloud” means something different to every technologist, line of business leader, and CIO. Some think of private cloud. Some think of public cloud services like AWS and Azure. Others think of a hybrid cloud approach, where capabilities are both on-prem and in a public provider. Regardless of which term you use, we firmly believe that Cloud is not a place. Cloud is a set of disciplines™.
Cloud disciplines deliver a consistent experience for end users; enable a self-service delivery approach; leverage best-of-breed technologies, whether on-prem, off-prem, or through a provider; and deliver capabilities in a secure manner.
Adopting the 5 Cloud Disciplines
Adopting cloud disciplines provides the adaptability, resilience, and flexibility required for businesses to survive, compete, and grow in an unpredictable world. These disciplines do not automatically exist after adopting a hybrid cloud strategy; your organization must cultivate them to ensure your strategies directly meet your business and workload needs. The five cloud disciplines include:
- 1Reliability scalability and agility: Enhanced networking for a hybrid cloud infrastructure enables adaptation, changes, agility, and scalability. A flexible, adaptable network implementation that also effectively enforces security policy expectations allows innovations built on cloud to reach service consumers. This integrated environment, from the data center to the edge to the public cloud, is critical to ensure data is accessible in the right location at the right time.
Ease of use and self-service adaptation: An effective hybrid cloud approach allows users anywhere to connect to and access an application or digital service instantly and easily. Services may need to connect to other services located in disparate environments, perhaps provided by a third-party vendor. These complexities should be hidden from the end users while allowing them access to a vast pool of resources to implement their solution. Regardless of the application’s underlying resources and where those resources are distributed, the user experience should be seamless.
By leveraging this enhanced approach, an organization can enable a self-service mentality for its technology users, whether they are developers or non-technical employees. An employee should be able to go from an idea to development instantly, without assistance from operations staff. Users can innovate more quickly with the ease of use, control, and rapid access of a hybrid cloud environment.
- 3Availability, resilience, and elasticity: The ability to scale to meet business demands is critical and drives important business efficiencies, and automation plays a key role. Availability, resiliency, and rapid scalability are achieved in the cloud by deploying resources across virtual availability zones. This allows for the implementation of the traditional concepts of high availability and disaster recovery without the traditional sunk cost of additional facilities that an organization must manage.
Security: Hybrid cloud can create security challenges; your organization is responsible for a cloud security strategy that appropriately meets your business and workload requirements. You also must examine which cloud products work better within certain environments, and how your security strategy should evolve based on what you are using.
Your hybrid cloud security strategy must be consistently maintained; cloud providers will not do this for you. Security strategies must not become outdated. You should evaluate your business needs in relation to your security measures to ensure security levels for applications, systems and networks are always where they need to be.
- 5Cost control: Consider how cost fits in to your hybrid cloud strategy. Most organizations spend years optimizing costs of operations. However, cloud brings a different element to the cost conversation. To fully reap the benefits of a cloud strategy, think about it in terms of cost control, rather than cost savings. Ask yourself, how can I deploy the most effective hybrid cloud strategy, what are the costs associated with it, and how will these investments pay off in the future? A focus only on cost savings can lead to a sub-par cloud strategy that isn’t designed to meet organizational needs.
Adopting cloud disciplines provides the adaptability, resilience, and flexibility required for businesses to survive, compete, and grow in an unpredictable world.
Hybrid Cloud Best Practices
In addition to the foundational disciplines required to deliver and operate a hybrid cloud environment, organizations should take the following best practices into consideration to maximize the value of hybrid cloud:
Align Development and Operations
A product-based approach to developing services provides agility and flexibility. The cloud is defined by continuous delivery and continuous improvement, both for applications and infrastructure. The focus in the cloud shifts from traditional, completion-driven “deadline” projects to zero-day projects—deliverables that go from concept to delivery in a matter of hours.
Evaluate Costs and Technical Capabilities
Any feature or capability in the cloud can be tied to billing or usage metrics. As an operational practice, decision trees can be created for adding new capabilities. For instance, ensuring characteristics such as memory usage or bandwidth required are closely aligned with the requirements of a service. Over time, an organization can build approval gateways and parameters based on usage to ensure access to the right resources at the right time.
When adopting a hybrid cloud strategy, be careful to avoid the following misconceptions:
The cloud is automatically secure for my business purpose.
Hybrid cloud environments are particularly challenging from a security perspective and require a thoughtful and strategic security approach. You must consistently attend to your hybrid cloud security strategy, while adhering to new enhancements. It is important to ensure levels of security are consistent and appropriate for the workloads.
Once I’m in the cloud, everything looks the same.
There are different sets of tools for public, private, and hybrid cloud strategies. You must make choices as a business on how you want to manage those different clouds, and whether you want to manage them in a consistent way.
The cloud is always less expensive.
While a hybrid cloud approach offers many benefits and allows you to only use the compute you need, savings are not immediate. To fully realize cloud benefits, you must invest in security, resiliency, and automation, which means some added initial costs.
Business Outcomes of Leveraging Hybrid Cloud
Most organizations have existing technology investments that support their core business. Often, it’s not feasible to simply rip and replace these environments. The technical debt accrued in this scenario can inhibit an organization from rapidly deploying new capabilities to support business changes. It makes sense for organizations facing these challenges to deploy a hybrid cloud model—leveraging existing technology assets and investments, while combining them with additional capabilities from public cloud providers or as-a-service vendors.
There is not a one-size-fits-all hybrid cloud strategy. Instead, you must examine your organization’s business needs and goals closely to create a strategy that works best for you. However, there are some immediate steps you can follow while working to develop an effective hybrid cloud strategy:
Ensure the five defining cloud disciplines are in place and develop a plan to implement any that are missing or deficient
Map each discipline to the unique value provided to your business
Create a plan to consistently maintain your cloud security strategy
Ensure products benefit from the best aligned cost structure and cloud services, depending on their business impact and value
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