- By Neil Miles
- April 17, 2020
By Neil Miles
Whether it’s increased flexibility, scalability or cost efficiency - the advantages of a hybrid cloud approach are many. However, companies can only benefit from a truly hybrid IT approach, if they prepare for the inherent complexity.
Hybrid, and multi-cloud solutions are becoming increasingly popular because they combine the advantages of both public and private clouds. The combination of easily accessible and scalable resources from the public cloud with secure, proprietary environments within a private cloud enables IT to dynamically adapt resources to different use cases. However, in order to maximize the advantages and utility of a hybrid cloud environment, while avoiding common pitfalls, companies must prepare for the challenges that hybrid IT entails.
Challenge: Complex IT infrastructure and inflexible automationA hybrid cloud environment entails a network of connections, whenever a private cloud instance is interwoven with public cloud offerings from major providers such as Amazon or Microsoft. This leads to a need for better management oversight for all resources no matter where they are. Unfortunately, one typical consequence of a multi-cloud approach is the creation of cloud silos with their own separate management toolsets and automation. This overlap of tools and tool administrators across the environments adds administrative overhead that will further slow IT’s ability to deliver business-tuned resources in a timely fashion.
The more complex the IT estate, the more difficult it is to design and automate the deployment of on-demand environments. The drive to respond quickly to new resources requests leads IT to distill all services down to a few standard offerings that can be readily automated. The result is a set of inflexible, automation templates that can’t provision or maintain the wide range of enterprise resources being requested. Any non-standard request breaks the automation template and delivery will then devolve to a traditional, slow IT project – thus encouraging the business to move past IT and use outside services, regardless of policy or cost.
Infrastructure complexity may also impede the development and deployment of innovative environments that can help differentiate a business in the market. The best application systems have been tailored to support the unique needs of each business. Quickly delivering innovative new services while maintaining cost effectiveness is even more challenging with rigid resource templates.
In addition, automation and on-demand deployment of a diverse set of IT environments becomes more difficult at scale. As a result, each non-standard resource request becomes a traditional IT project that requires extensive manual assembly and testing, limiting flexibility and slowing delivery. To respond within business timelines, delivery teams may default to placing all new builds exclusively in the public cloud, despite the loss of IT context, control and increased costs. Management toolsets and integrations grow around each individual cloud or environment silo (private cloud, public cloud and on-premise) which precludes the movement of workloads to a different target, even if that move might provide a more optimal solution.
Challenge: Data governance
The increasing number of data protection regulations defines exactly how and where companies can collect and store customer data. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) stipulates that data from EU citizens can only be stored within the European Union. Additionally, these regulations stipulate that companies must provide several levels of security to protect user data. A hybrid cloud approach may pose an increased risk of data protection compliance, since public cloud services can host business data in a number of locations, selected from a large number of available options. In addition, customer data may remain in cloud locations after the compute portion of a service was discontinued.
Solution: Hybrid cloud management for comprehensive control
When hybrid cloud automation initiatives are kicked-off within an enterprise, the scope may be broad and comprehensive. However, when delivery pressures mount, separate teams and toolsets arise for each target environment (private cloud, public cloud, and for data center). It is difficult to take full advantage of the benefits offered by each different environment or a hybrid combination, unless IT stakeholders commit to a hybrid-capable toolset and strategy.
With an effective hybrid cloud management solution, companies will employ a central control system that will direct the design, fulfillment, and Day Two management of all IT environments, regardless of target. The ability for catalog services to be flexibly automated based on deployment-time choices allows a streamlined set of catalog items to fulfill a wide range of requests. Having a flexible set of catalog offerings enables the delivery of cost effective and compliant hybrid systems at ‘public cloud only’ speeds – while keeping the number of offerings manageable. Otherwise IT is faced with the creation and updating of hundreds of templates to cover all possible resource and technology options.
A hybrid-capable cloud management toolset brings all deployed system information together and IT is provided with policy-based administration, reporting and analysis functions. Allowing IT to not only oversee which vendor environments are being used but also providing the ability to quickly and flexibly re-design, or re-deploy segments of their IT estate to increase efficiency and better comply with applicable regulations.
ConclusionA flexible but powerful hybrid cloud automation platform is an investment designed to efficiently manage hybrid multi-cloud IT resources and flexibly automate the on-demand deployment of IT environments and IT services for the users within the organization. Deploying hybrid-capable automation that accommodates deployment-time choices and options allows for the creation of on-demand but customized environments that are tuned to business needs. The right hybrid cloud management platform will enable a manageable set of resource definitions to create a wide range of offerings. Enabling IT to take better advantage of the best of both public and private cloud worlds - optimizing the IT estate and delivering at a business pace.
Overcoming the Challenges and Taking Advantage of Hybrid Cloud Environments
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