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Is My Business Hybrid Cloud Ready?

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  • In this article, we define hybrid cloud computing, explain the relative advantages of using hybrid cloud, and provide a framework for businesses to determine whether they are hybrid cloud ready.

  • Recognizing the potential benefits of the hybrid cloud and making the leap toward this evolution in cloud computing are two very different things. Before any business can gain the confidence to make this leap, it’s critical to get to grips with the hybrid cloud ecosystem and to gain insight into its direct advantages to modern organizations as they look toward digital transformation.

  • What exactly is the hybrid cloud?

  • The concept of hybridity in IT infrastructure is not new. Adopting a hybrid model – i.e. dividing tasks between different physical servers – has long been a way for businesses to increase agility and guarantee a degree of long term sustainability as they grow.

    But it is time we approach hybrid computing in another way, looking at how we can deploy applications within private and public clouds to create a hybrid cloud structure. This mixing of public and private clouds is what yields true hybrid cloud computing.

    This means investing in IaaS – or IT Infrastructure as a Service – in combination with owned servers. The IaaS model enables organizations to access public cloud infrastructure on a subscription basis, mitigating the need for cumbersome onsite data centers or other physical infrastructure when they offer limited advantages.

    Depending on the organization’s unique needs, this public cloud may then be paired with a private cloud via third-party colocation services or onsite infrastructure if this is a viable option for the specific business.

  • Why do businesses opt for the hybrid cloud model?

  • There are many reasons why a business might decide to opt for a hybrid cloud model. We’ve covered some of the most important below. One of the key factors that drives businesses to this decision is capability – most companies simply cannot operate efficiently and effectively if their applications are exclusively based in the public cloud. These organizations look to optimize the speed, performance, and cost of their digital architecture with a hybrid structure.

    For example, this can be achieved via cloud bursting within a hybrid model. Cloud bursting enables the application to be hosted and operated within a data center or a private cloud until the limits of its capability are met and the application responds by “bursting” through to the public cloud. The organization only pays for this additional service as and when it’s required. These costs can be further reduced and optimized by bypassing the public internet via direct connections.

    Tiered hybrid deployments also allow businesses to optimize between front-end agility and back-end stability. With a hybrid cloud environment, front-end applications can live in the public cloud where they can be closer to end users and sensitive to agility. Meanwhile back-end applications that depend on stability and security can live in a private cloud, with both types of applications communicating via API gateway.

    Businesses may also operate traditional applications that do not fit with public cloud structures. In this case, they’ll need to tailor their cloud policies in order to match the requirements of these applications.

  • Hybrid cloud and the future of enterprise IT

  • Hybrid cloud models are now at the forefront of moves toward digital transformation. They represent the foundations of the future of enterprise IT. This is because the hybrid cloud model is geared directly toward the achievement of key digital transformation goals.

    Perhaps the three most critical tenets of digital transformation in business are innovation, sustainability, and a pivot toward increasingly flexible digital structures. Primarily by providing unparalleled cost savings and flexibility, the hybrid cloud model supports all three and democratizes computing power so businesses can focus on creating genuinely game-changing products and services for customers.

  • The advantages of the hybrid cloud

  • We’ve established that the hybrid cloud represents the future and is at the vanguard of moves toward digital transformation in business, but what are the direct advantages of this approach?

    These are some of the benefits you need to be aware of as you consider whether your business is hybrid cloud ready.

    • Flexibility – A business can enjoy the power and scalability that public clouds offer without losing the security and control that their private cloud gives them, or their ability to run traditional enterprise applications – which often won’t work in a cloud environment.
    • Elasticity – To prevent overload, a cloud system needs to be able to cope with fluctuations in demand level. Hybrid models display the necessary elasticity to achieve this via cloud bursting.
    • Self-service – With the hybrid model, businesses do not need to go through an external cloud service provider to launch applications, streamlining the process.
    • Speed of delivery – A balance of convenience and efficacy are critical in modern business. Organizations need to have their applications performing at their best to ensure optimized delivery.
    • Cost control – Businesses can choose to use private clouds for typical daily use, without the need to accommodate peak-level demands. Additional computational resources can be spun up on demand and companies are only charged on the basis of computation and storage used. This reduces costs and makes them more predictable.
    • Lock-in avoidance – A business cannot afford to become “locked into” a contract with a provider, making them unable to extricate their data from the cloud structure when required. The hybrid model avoids this situation.
    • Coverage – The hybrid cloud model makes it easier for businesses to meet regional data sovereignty and compliance demands by giving them the ability to host data where they need to as market and regulatory requirements evolve
    • Cutting edge technology – Connecting with cutting edge technological concepts such as artificial intelligence is vital for businesses, and the hybrid model provides the ability to access modern infrastructure.
  • The limitations of the public-only model

  • The counterpart to the pull factors of the hybrid cloud model are the factors that push business owners away from public-only models. Some of the key push factors are:

    • Cost – It simply costs a business too much to be constantly operating in the public cloud beyond a certain scale. Charges for data egress are a particular concern here.
    • Control – Running applications exclusively in the cloud means surrendering some of the control of your business-critical applications.
    • Performance – Many traditional applications simply will not perform at their best in a public-only environment
    • Compliance & data sovereignty – Different standards of compliance are applied to different industries, but adopting a hybrid model means businesses can ensure that they are operating in full adherence to all regulations.
  • Why choose colocation in hybrid?

  • A hybrid cloud depends on fast and secure connections between an organization’s private cloud and public cloud services that it uses.

    Traditional on-premises data centers typically have fast internet and decent connections with other enterprise data centers. However, they often lack network and power redundancy (both are expensive features), have questionable reliability, and typically have slower connections than third party data centers.

    In contrast, colocation data centers build redundancy and ultrafast connectivity into their capabilities as a core feature. Additionally, cloud direct connections are becoming more common, expanding the advantage colocation has over proprietary data centers for hybrid cloud deployments.

    This approach enables the positioning of private IT infrastructure at convenient access points to public cloud platforms to provide even greater enhancement to performance and agility. The data center can then provide private connection services, such as AWS Direct Connect or Microsoft ExpressRoute, to boost security and performance by bypassing public internet. This also results in decreased network costs.

    The colocation option is also far more convenient and cost-effective than building private infrastructure. Businesses gain access to purpose-built facilities, avoiding any expensive construction work or ongoing management. They also benefit from software-defined networking and enterprise orchestration tools.

    Finally, IT is moved closer to customers, achieving a business that is perfectly positioned as a leader within its respective industry.

  • Getting hybrid cloud ready: Implementation checklist

  • Transitioning to a hybrid cloud requires a business to plan ahead and architect a solution that will serve its technical and commercial needs into the future.

    Hiring a highly-skilled network engineer with experience designing and implementing hybrid cloud solutions is a smart investment for any business that wants to leverage the combined benefits of public and private cloud environments.

    Still, an engineer cannot architect the right solution for a business until they have developed a strong understanding of the applications, services, data, and any relevant regulatory considerations for the business.

    Here are some key considerations for any business that’s considering transitioning to a hybrid cloud as part of its digital transformation strategy.

  • Do you have a thorough understanding of current storage and computing needs?

  • Organizations operating in different industries or sectors have different needs. The size of an organization also dictates need. In terms of storage, these needs should be fairly easy to calculate as storage levels should grow steadily with little to no fluctuation. However, computing power is a little more complex.

    It’s likely that your business requires differing levels of computing power at different times of day. It could be that these fluctuations are predictable and can be planned for, or it might be that total flexibility is required to make sure that systems are not overwhelmed by changes in requirements.

    These needs should be understood thoroughly before deciding on a hybrid cloud model.

  • Do you have a roadmap for how these needs will change and develop in the future?

  • A business is not designed to be static. Instead, it should be on a trajectory of constant growth and evolution. How will your needs change and develop as you progress along this trajectory? You need scalable hybrid solutions, which will be beneficial even as your company grows.

  • Do you recognize which workloads belong in which environment?

  • Allocating the right applications to the right environment within your hybrid architecture is an important step toward achieving the ideal cloud solution. Consider the workloads of your different applications: elastic applications with unpredictable resource demands should be in the public cloud, while traditional applications with more predictable patterns of operation belong in the private cloud.

  • Have you assessed your current services?

  • What services are you currently operating? How will they match with the hybrid cloud model you are interested in implementing? The hybrid cloud architecture is designed to bring flexibility and agility to your organization and so it should perfectly support all aspects of this.

  • Have you assessed your future goals?

  • Again, this is a question of scalability. What suits the current layout of your business may not necessarily suit this layout five or ten years in the future. The same applies to your targets and goals. Plan ahead, and make sure that the hybrid cloud system you plan to implement can support these future goals as they develop.

  • Hybrid Cloud Deployment Challenges

  • Before implementing a hybrid cloud infrastructure, there are a few challenges businesses should be aware of:

    • Network complexity – Hybrid cloud topology can be complex. It’s essential to consider security and latency between each layer. A hybrid cloud also depends on stable and fast connectivity between its public and private cloud networks.
    • Business complexity – An increased number of providers will result in more policies to understand and more bills to process each month. Finance departments might find it more difficult to determine the overall costs.
    • Data management complexity – DevOps teams will have to become familiar with both public and private cloud best practices and tools, and design and execute policies for tracking and synchronizing data.
    • Public Cloud Options Selection – There are different storage options for the public cloud portion of your hybrid solution, including block storage, NAS storage, object storage, and tape storage. Businesses must examine each option to decide which one is best for their organization.
    • Private Cloud Storage Selection – Businesses that opt for private cloud storage can choose from NAS, CIS, or object storage systems. Again, business owners must select the option best suited to their industry, their organizational structure, and their aims.
  • Hybrid Cloud: An Option Worth Considering

  • As public and private cloud operators are continuing to work together to improve the hybrid cloud experience, the relative advantages of using hybrid cloud environments will only continue to increase. Still, every business has different computational and storage needs, and should do a proprietary assessment against goals and resources before making the leap to hybrid cloud. Many businesses will also seek help from advisors or consultants during the initial setup, as the initial setup can have outsize effects on the performance and costs of this infrastructure.

    Are you ready to make the next steps toward adopting the hybrid cloud model? Our marketplace help you find the data centers you need for your unique situation, like connecting to the major public cloud providers such as Amazon AWS, MS Azure, and Google GCP. Contact an advisor to learn more.

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