Why hybrid cloud can work for you – and the three steps to a successful environment

Research from a recent Gartner study predicts that by 2019, “more than 30 percent of the 100 largest vendors’ new software investments will have shifted from cloud-first to cloud-only”. The study considers the idea that “cloud-first, and even cloud-only is replacing the no-cloud attitude” that has dominated corporations in recent years. With there being no preference between public or private cloud, it indicates that organisations are moving in the direction of a hybrid cloud future.

This is in line with conversations we have every day with organisations in the UK, as most indicate that their three-year roadmap includes building a hybrid environment. While “on-premises” environments will not go away completely, there is significant agility and cost savings associated with introducing a hybrid approach in delivering IT resources to key applications and development services.

Everyone throws around the term hybrid cloud, but what does it really mean?

What is the hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud is a combination of on-premises and off-premises (or cloud based) IT infrastructure platforms. Enabling an organisation to run applications on multiple platforms increases efficiency and choice, as no one platform is right for everything.  A hybrid approach allows an organisation to choose the right platform for the right workload, for the right price.  This agility speeds up ‘time to market’ for many organisations, and improves the capabilities to service employees and customers. 

This shift is, in some ways, a no brainer in the medium term, however it is not without challenges and risks. It’s difficult for organisations used to ‘on premises’ single vendor or single platform architectures to build, manage and protect hybrid cloud environments.  While introducing multiple platforms drives efficiency and choice, it also drives complexity and risk for organisations ill prepared to address this shift in strategy correctly.  Given these concerns, if you are considering a move towards a hybrid cloud environment, what should you consider and how do you get there?

Hybrid cloud considerations

There are advantages to choosing a hybrid cloud environment from an efficiency standpoint. Lower costs, pay as you go models, and access to a wide breadth of services summarise some of the broad positive outcomes. These outcomes enable businesses to run tests, build new systems, and adapt faster. Best of all, organisations can be quicker to market.

However, it’s important to consider that the changes required to enable a hybrid cloud can be risky and time consuming, so you may need a different group of tools to protect the environments that are created. To address and avoid risk, protection and immediate recovery is key. 

Traditional migration and disaster recovery methods that are based on individual pieces of hardware can be disruptive to the production systems they protect and are no longer adequate in the hybrid cloud or multi-platform world. These traditional replication, migration and recovery tools are by design incapable of protecting applications and environments that may span multiple ‘on-premises’ and cloud platforms. 

It’s no surprise that traditional ways of protecting applications in “on-premises-only” environments won’t suffice in the hybrid cloud world.  Thus, we believe there are important things to consider when planning the shift towards a hybrid cloud environment that will reduce the risk and prevent environmental exposure and complexity.

Three steps to ensure a successful hybrid cloud environment

Creating a successful hybrid cloud environment in three steps:

Planning: Planning is significantly easier if your environment has a protection, mobility, and testing suite or platform that is agnostic to the infrastructure you’re running your IT on. By design, you can make changes to which platforms you use (on-premises and/or cloud based) with no protection dependencies tied to that individual on-premises or cloud platform. Furthermore, an agnostic platform allows you to avoid introducing organisational risk when making changes, thus providing the agility desired when deciding to move to a hybrid cloud IT environment in the first place. 

Testing: Any changes to your environment, whether internal on-premises changes or more complex shifts to cloud based resources, will carry organisational risk.  Thus, testing whether changes will be executed smoothly and successfully is the bedrock of any serious hybrid-cloud strategy.  Downtime, data loss, and the costs associated with infrastructure changes can be significant risks an organisation moving to hybrid cloud needs to consider.  A successful hybrid cloud environment can be enabled by, and will continue to allow for testing capabilities that can assess whether the applications absorbing infrastructure or platform change will remain available through and after those changes occur. 

Future proofing: When introducing new platforms into your IT environment, future proofing your decisions is critical.  Questions such as ‘can we protect our applications once they are moved to a new private/hybrid/public cloud platform?’ and ‘if this new platform doesn’t meet our expectations, can we move again easily?’ are very important considerations to think through before any changes are actually made. 

There are numerous advantages to having a hybrid cloud. If you do your due diligence and take the right steps to get there, you’ll find the rewards can be significant from both a cost as well as efficiency standpoint.

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