Three steps to getting started with hybrid cloud management
Typically, the care and feeding of infrastructure, or even operating systems, is not one of a businesses’ core functions. This means that organisations of all kinds often stand to benefit from the economies of scale, safety, security and the access to expertise that managed cloud and other hosting services provide.
At the same time, however, not all workloads should move to the cloud. In fact, not all workloads can. Compliance and governance restrictions in some sectors and/or geographies continue to preclude this. We still see software licenses that are not cloud-friendly, and many legacy applications have performance characteristics that just aren’t well-suited to public cloud.
Most enterprises therefore retain some on-premise infrastructure, and instead look to service providers to help them enable hybrid cloud hosting, rather than making a wholescale switch.
As the demand for hybrid models continues to grow, what are the practical steps that organisations need to take to develop their hybrid cloud and hybrid management strategies?
Step One: Make a list
Start with the basics: begin by making a list of the tools and processes your organisation currently uses for tasks such as OS monitoring, application monitoring, patching, antivirus, authentication and auditing. Essentially build an inventory of everything you currently use to manage your application portfolio, including the underlying infrastructure.
For each of your tools, you will need to ask not only if it can be extended into the hybrid cloud, but also whether this is the best approach. Perhaps your cloud service provider can provide a better solution. One key consideration is to understand the level of customisation that both exists and is ultimately required across your portfolio of enabling tools and technologies.
Step Two: Evaluate partner’s tools
As you look to partner with a cloud service provider, evaluate the tools that they would utilise, and make a decision as to whether the cost-savings that come with using a service provider’s tools outweigh the benefits of customisation and familiarity that you have with your own tools.
Be as level-headed in those decisions as possible. There are always going to be reasons to continue to use existing tools and extend these to the cloud. However, this benefit needs to be balanced against the possible value of the efficiencies provided by a hybrid cloud hosting provider’s tools and technologies.
By picking only the necessary management options, the investments already made in your on-premise tools can be retained. The benefit and efficiency of hybrid management is all about the ability to leverage the different tools and management models available to create a pick ‘n’ mix of on-premise tools extended to the hybrid cloud and those that are better off replaced by the service provider’s alternative. It’s therefore critical to find a provider that can offer you that flexibility, as opposed to one that can only offer an all-or-nothing management model.
Step Three: Connect and manage the systems
Next, it’s important to consider that the power of hybrid cloud is based on the ability to extend the network and thereby provide a seamless experience between assets in the cloud and those that are on-premise, enabled by a high-speed network.
A key consideration is therefore to find a provider that can offer high-speed connectivity on the same networks that are connecting your enterprise data centre.
In some cases, usually if you are highly virtualised on premise, finding a provider with a compatible hypervisor can also be important.
The hypervisor can be a factor that streamlines the hybrid experience. If, for example, you’re running VMware on premise and you partner with a VMware-based service provider, the integration and compatibility of moving workloads between the on-premise environment and the managed cloud can be dramatically simplified.
Integration between the on-premise cloud and the public cloud through APIs can often allow for a level of automation that’s necessary to ensure a seamless and scalable experience across the different assets. So – depending on the size and sophistication of your own situation – it can be a good piece to find a provider that offers a cloud platform that surfaces APIs for integration.
Cloud has evolved unbelievably fast in the past five years, and it will continue to do so in the years to come. Hybrid cloud is a real thing and I am convinced it’s here to stay. The tools, processes, and enabling technologies such as the network now allow for discrete management options and seamless integration with on-premise infrastructure.
Your hybrid management strategy is all about selecting the combination of management options that allows flexibility and the level of customisation your business needs, while at the same time reaping the benefits of hosted services.