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Top considerations for implementing a hybrid cloud environment

The compelling economics, efficiency, and agility of hybrid clouds in the enterprise are driving out older approaches.

The compelling economics, efficiency, and agility of a hybrid cloud model in the enterprise are causing organizations to rethink their IT strategy. Cloud-focused partners can help in-house IT not only find the right strategy for the business but also implement and operate this new environment.

Public clouds enable agility, capabilities, and potential cost savings that are well beyond those of conventional, on-premises IT infrastructure. If you were building a completely new organization, it might make sense to put all your computing in a public cloud just to achieve agility and cost savings. This may be the case for some organizations, but most often, sometimes due to legal or technical requirements or just for business reasons, organizations have a mix of public cloud and on-premises infrastructure. This real-world reality of the cloud in the enterprise is a hybrid one.

To gain that agility and flexibility that drives organizations to the public cloud, look for solutions for the hybrid cloud that use similar cloud architecture and practices for both on and off premises; a strategy that can adopt a pay-per-use cost model. The benefits of this approach are significant and will require you to develop the strategy that delivers the business outcomes you need.

It is complex and difficult, but help is on the way

Implementing cloud technology properly is hard. For companies steeped in conventional IT technologies and techniques, the move to the cloud means substantial changes in practice and approach. It requires significant new investments in tools, skills, and processes, even if the point is to run the same applications you are running on conventional systems.

It also means changing the way you look at things. Normally, you wouldn’t consider building a server to perform a single task and then take it down. But in the cloud, that often makes sense, and it’s easy because the server, its storage, and the network run in this kind of elastic IT. Top considerations for implementing the hybrid cloud include:

  • Improving efficiency, agility, and economics
  • Extending the approach to management, and monitoring of resources and services
  • Maximizing the benefits of the public and private cloud
  • Enabling the most efficient placement of workloads
  • Making IT more efficient and effective
  • Freeing up IT staff to focus on improving core business processes instead of putting out operational fires

HPE GreenLake Hybrid Cloud sets up processes to manage cloud resources in a customer’s environment of choice; establishes specific cost, security, and compliance controls; and then manages those resources on behalf of the customer. It offers an automated, cloud-native model designed to eliminate the need for organizations to hire or train new staff to oversee and manage cloud implementations.

CloudOps: Overall management and monitoring should be similar

The term cloud means a lot of things, but most of them have nothing to do with whose computers are being used and where they are. The big differences are in the recasting of computers, networks, and storage as virtual assets, all as programmable as a data structure, and of hardware as a malleable commodity.

The way to operate this new approach to IT, where everything is virtual and anything is available if you need it, is called CloudOps.

With CloudOps you get: 

  • An agile methodology with infrastructure, platforms, and applications delivered on demand as a service.
  • Pervasive automation of tasks, of the creation and destruction of infrastructure, of monitoring, and of the scaling of infrastructure in response to demand or anticipated needs. Really, everything can and should be automated.

Quality CloudOps also focuses on these priorities:

  • Monitoring and maintaining regulatory compliance and other governance requirements
  • Ensuring that service-level agreements are met
  • Safeguarding with proper disaster recovery and mitigation

Lack of good enterprise-grade CloudOps capabilities leads to unnecessary and even unknown costs, a lack of agility, as well as unnecessary and excessive risk.

By the same token, the cloud world brings in a new set of vendors and a completely different approach to pricing: Upfront capital investment is minimized, and IT costs are paid for through subscriptions or even on a consumption model—that is, you pay for the capacity that you use and no more.

It’s not hard to see that this approach is much more efficient, if only from the fact of paying just for what you use and having new capacity available on demand. If your company owns servers running on your own racks and you have them working at capacity 24/7, you are either exceptionally talented or lucky, or you need to buy more computing resources. 

Mature CloudOps also enables new frameworks for running tasks, like containers, which improve isolation of individual processes to reduce conflicts and provide for both flexible scaling of jobs to maximize performance and utilization of the available hardware capacity.

To take advantage of the value of CloudOps, leverage vendors with the expertise to ensure your implementation is smooth and adapted to your business needs. This will enable it to be done right, in a reasonable amount of time, and with the least disruption to operations possible.

Once the systems are built and running, operating them is also unlike operating conventional IT. As with the related term DevOps, CloudOps merges development and operations tasks to allow for continuous modification and improvement. This is cutting-edge expertise.

Benefits of public, private clouds

Some argue that it would be best to have all your operations in one or more public clouds. That way your capital investments would be minimized. Also, your disaster recovery responsibilities would also be lessened and your options for satisfying them increased. The major public clouds—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud—have data centers all over the world and better connectivity than you can afford. Why not take advantage?

As it happens, there are many reasons why you might be better off running certain workloads (or applications) on in-house, on-premises systems. Those include:

  • For some, running sensitive operations on non-company assets is a risk. Regulatory compliance and other requirements might demand a solution that is not the most efficient. The correct decision may change depending on the laws of the country where the work is being done. In the United States, a public cloud may be an acceptable solution, but in the European Union, it may not.
  • Total cost of ownership can be a slippery concept, and more so in the cloud, where you don’t quite “own” things the way you used to. Public cloud prices can be complicated and volatile. On AWS, it is possible to get a “spot instance” at discounts reminiscent of that $49 flight to Chicago you can get by flying when the airline tells you to. But if you need to fly home the day before Thanksgiving, you pay for the privilege, and public clouds are the same. Your private cloud and other infrastructure might run on a consumption model, but the marginal cost is likely to be more predictable than it is in a public cloud.
  • Perhaps the most common situation that benefits strongly for a hybrid cloud is for operations at the edge of the network. Typically, these are branch offices and other remote facilities, especially those that have less-reliable connectivity but cannot afford to be disconnected. A local hybrid cloud instance ensures availability and performance but, when connected to a main headquarters instance, allows for the central consolidation of data needed for business analytics.

Gain the benefits in a private cloud

When it makes sense to retain a significant amount of on-premises IT infrastructure, you can still improve the quality and efficiency of those operations by operating them as a private cloud. As with the public clouds, cloud architecture and CloudOps will let you run your private cloud with optimal efficiency and the greatest satisfaction of addressing all your objectives and requirements.

Consider your options, most notably using Microsoft’s Azure Stack, to bring consistent services on premises, so you can run on your own hardware that meets its requirements. The benefit is that Azure is a proven platform with a vast ecosystem of third-party support and expertise available. If you don’t have the right skillset for Azure cloud, you may need help from outside experts.

Hybrid cloud: Get started now

The hybrid cloud is best defined as the combination of your public and private cloud assets, both on and off prem. It’s a place that looks very different than your current IT department. Getting a hybrid cloud to work correctly, let alone optimally, is best done with experts that have the cloud knowledge and skills to complement your IT team.

Finally, a hybrid cloud is an effective way of hedging your bets on the big trends in technology. Even if you think a public cloud can do all you need, it is possible that some of the use cases for on-premises IT will take hold in your organization. A hybrid cloud environment gives you the resources, skillsets, processes, and tools to deploy new systems where they belong.

Stick to your organization’s mission

Think of your IT functions themselves as a service running on a consumption model; leverage a cloud partner with institutional expertise in cloud systems to run the infrastructure for you. This enables your employees to focus on doing the work of the company and not operate as a cost center maintaining infrastructure.

The trend toward replacing in-house IT staff with outside professional services has been building for many years. With a hybrid cloud, the idea is more compelling than ever and frees your organization’s staff from building and running the computing infrastructure. When it’s more efficient and agile to have your computing and all the associated product and expertise delivered as a service, then that’s the right thing to do.

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This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.