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What Are The Ingredients Of Successful Hybrid IT?

Cloud | Posted on November 1, 2017 by Tobin Dalrymple

Hybrid IT is one of the fastest growing trends in digital transformation, with nearly 80 percent of businesses planning to combine private and public clouds, according to IDC.

And, as with all technology transformations, there is no universal recipe for success. But there are a number of key ingredients which are almost always a good idea to include — or at least consider — as you craft your hybrid strategy.

Price optimization across multiple clouds

IT leaders should look at hybrid IT as an opportunity to mix up multiple cloud services to find the best value, or “bang for their buck.”

Every workload and application has a different set of performance, management and security needs. As you move to the cloud, you should compare how different cloud vendors meet those needs and at what cost. If you are hosting both a disaster recovery backup, as well as a customer-facing e-commerce site, your bandwidth needs (and costs) will be extremely different for each.

While wading through costs and licensing is a complex process, it can pay to do it right, even if that means hiring an expert to help you navigate the marketplace. Forrester’s Dave Bartoletti, in an article at CIO.com, shared a story about how a business saved $300,000 annually by getting help finding the best cloud pricing.  

A single pane of control across private and multiple public clouds

Having more clouds often leads to management complexity. But it doesn’t have to. A good hybrid IT strategy will simplify and consolidate private and public clouds onto a single, consistent control pane. This means your private infrastructure is virtualized. You can monitor and control from the same level of abstraction as your public applications. It also means you are working with a single foundation that works across multiple cloud vendors, such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.

Many businesses, even before going to public cloud, have standardized their private cloud onto a single virtualization product such as VMWare vSphere. As you move to the hybrid model, it makes sense to use a tool your team knows.

Again, this process can lead to hefty returns. As an example, by bringing a Softchoice customer to VMware’s Cloud Foundation, we were able to reduce the sum total of “man hours” needed for traditional data center maintenance from 86 days to 4.5 days.

Slide from a Softchoice customer case study, showing how VMware Cloud Foundation reduces total data center management times.

 

A software-defined network

As we pointed out above, to achieve that level of simplicity and efficiency, you will need a robust private cloud that spans your server, storage, and networking. This data center transformation allows for private and public clouds to work interchangeably and support the enterprise fluidly, as needed.

Hybrid cloud solutions such as Cloud Foundation work best when you virtualize traditional data center workloads, alongside the public cloud.

While many businesses have already virtualized server and storage workloads, the same cannot be said for the software-defined network (SDN). SDN is a relatively new dimension of virtualization and, at least in our experience, seems to be growing slowly in adoption compared to its data center counterparts in storage and server.

This slow pace of adoption is unfortunate, since the network is the final, missing piece needed to enable the full flexibility, and agility hoped for in the hybrid cloud. Aside from additional security and automation capabilities, a virtual network lets IT pivot as needed, to enable the network services required of any given workload, and then shift back when the need has passed.

An optimized application roadmap

On average, roughly 20 percent of your applications will be ready to go to the cloud “as is,” according to our research with customers. The rest will need some form of refactoring, or a complete replacement before it can be modernized. Understanding which of your apps to move, how and when, is complicated – but crucial for getting hybrid IT right.

Which is why the best hybrid cloud strategies go through an “application rationalization” stage. Here, IT must create a detailed picture of existing applications to understand their readiness and technical requirements to function in the cloud. Once done, IT filters these insights through higher-level business goals, helping prioritize the most efficient, and strategic, assets.

On average, only 20% of applications are ready to move to cloud “as is.” The rest will take some work.

Automated lifecycle management

Part of the promise of hybrid cloud is the ability to respond quickly to businesses needs and a changing market. Gone are the days when stakeholders will be willing to wait patiently for weeks or months for IT to order, install, configure, and deliver the resources required to host a new business application.

That’s why finding a hybrid cloud management platform that speeds your delivery with automated lifecycle, provisioning and maintenance are so important. With the right tools, you can fully automate tasks from Day 0 to Day 2, such as patching, upgrading, configuration and deployment — reducing provisioning times from weeks to days, and sometimes minutes.

Flexible, scalable security across all clouds and workloads

Security is the most crucial consideration with any IT project. But when it comes to hybrid IT, you must be able to ensure security and compliance, without getting in the way of the flexibility, scalability and cost efficiencies you are going after.

Juggling these two priorities — security and agility — is challenging, but not impossible. A number of the management, automation and infrastructure features we outlined above simultaneously make it easier to reduce risk. For example, you can leverage automated processes and provisioning of pre-configured workloads to meet your compliance requirements, without having to think about it each time. A single management console also increases insight and monitoring, helping you detect and respond to threats across private and public workloads.

Conclusion

Hybrid IT offers the ultimate promise of control, flexibility and cost savings, by consolidating private and public clouds onto a single infrastructure. But IT leaders need to keep a few things in mind if they want their hybrid initiatives to be successful. From doing your due diligence on cloud costs to virtualizing the network, the work needed is significant — but the potential payoff is, too.

Find out more about building the right path to Hybrid IT

Visit our Hybrid IT hub to learn more about data center transformation, public cloud adoption and the services we offer to guide IT leaders on their digital transformation. https://www.softchoice.com/data-center-transformation

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