Why hybrid cloud is the way forward for IT leaders - and how to get there

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Updated As cloud continues to be mainstream, the question amongst progressive IT departments when rolling out new applications is shifting from “why cloud?” to “which cloud?” Currently, the public cloud is dwarfed by private and on-premise solutions, with VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger stating that the latter represents over 90 per cent of the total business. Furthermore, Gartner has estimated that by 2020, on-premise cloud will account for 70 per cent of the total market.

There are many good reasons for organisations still opting to host their applications on hardware owned and managed in-house. Most organisations still have large investments in technology, people, and processes that cannot simply be written-off; certain workloads still do not suit virtualised or multi-tenanted platforms; renting resources is not always cheaper or better than owning them; and there are valid security and compliance reasons for keeping certain data on premise.

In spite of these concerns, however, the public cloud continues to grow at a ferocious rate, validating the benefits that this infrastructure delivery model offers; that certain data and workloads are better suited for a private cloud infrastructure or for a physical hosted platform therefore seems to be the caveat that opens the door to hybrid solutions. Although many UK businesses have migrated certain applications to the cloud, over three quarters of respondents in NaviSite’s recent survey had migrated under 50 per cent of their infrastructure to the cloud.

A hybrid solution gives organisations the option of scaling resources for specific workloads and running applications on the most appropriate platform for a particular given task. A highly dynamic application with varying spikes may be best supported in the public cloud, a performance-intensive application may be better suited running from the private cloud and applications with high regulatory requirements may need to reside on a physical platform. Furthermore, a hybrid solution allows an organisation to place their data where compliance or security requirements dictate. This is significant as 59 per cent of UK IT professionals surveyed by NaviSite still cite security as their main concern with cloud migration. Once a business has decided on a hybrid model, however, there is still the task of ‘getting there.’

With a hybrid solution, it’s important to audit the systems already in place and to optimise the hybrid configuration to ensure that the right resource is matched with each workload. Businesses should plan to optimise their environment by starting small and then scale up. By starting a hybrid project with a small pilot allows the IT department to get comfortable with the ins and outs of the hybrid model before rolling it out further across the organisation.

For a successful implementation of a hybrid model, organisations should remain aware of the following:

  • Keep scalability in mind right from the start: while the pilot project may be small in scope, the infrastructure deployed should be ready for growth and capable of delivering an ROI within a defined time frame
  • Look at your network: A hybrid strategy requires a close look at your enterprise network for bandwidth and scalability. With a hybrid strategy, companies will be relying on their network to ship large amounts of data back and forth (as opposed to more episodic dumps and updates), putting far more demand on the network than previously
  • Culture shift:Ultimately, some of the biggest challenges in moving to a hybrid infrastructure are less about the technology and more about management. Most IT departments have a culture centred around control and technical expertise and now has to accommodate a more collaborative, service-oriented approach for the provision of automated, self-service IT capabilities via the cloud

Hybrid continues to grow as it is the solution that offers organisations the best of both worlds. By starting small and being aware of the implementation challenges, IT leaders can successfully implement a hybrid strategy that pragmatically embraces the new, whilst making best use of current-state. By going hybrid, today’s IT leaders can pick the best-fit strategy for the current demands of their business, within a flexible framework that will enable them to manage future change.

This article was updated at 14:34 on April 10

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