Cloud adoption has seen a significant rise in recent years, with hybrid solutions gaining increasing popularity amongst enterprise businesses.
Hybrid cloud is the term used for cloud infrastructure that combines both a shared public cloud leveraged from a provider and a secure, high performance private cloud, gaining the benefits of both.
The challenges of hybrid cloud are still an unknown quantity for some, as it’s still relatively young as a setup, meaning many professionals are yet to dip their toe into the world of hybrid. An understanding of hybrid cloud and best use strategy only really comes from those who have experience with hybrid solutions at scale, which happens to be something of a speciality here at Cloudhelix.
As with many things in IT, or even business in general; with proper prior planning, many of the usual issues can be avoided. Building a good relationship with your cloud provider will give you the level of hands-on support you need ahead of time, ensuring you get everything you’re entitled to out of the agreement.
Let’s break the challenges down into a few key areas:
The key issue with cloud security comes down to trust. Can you trust your provider and their staff that will have access to your data? Can you trust everyone in your business with the same level of data access in-house?
In general, moving to a hybrid cloud setup is a great time to take stock of security, operations processes and more. It might require a bit of thinking, but it doesn't mean it's not worth doing.
A platform is only as secure as the policies you have in place to control it, and the amount of trust and faith between your provider and your staff that have access to the data.
Otherwise, just make sure that the ISO accreditation of your public cloud data center provider is up to scratch, and most importantly of all: be sure that there are no regulatory requirements stopping you from storing your own or your clients data off-site.
It's all about proving the success of hybrid cloud early doors.
In business we often focus on the cost, and rightly so... however, with hybrid cloud, the benefits and long-term savings it brings really need to be weighed up before cost is scrutinised too much. The problem for some is that the benefits only start to come once it has been implemented. Seeing is believing, so you may have to be creative in ways of helping the board understand the current challenges versus potential gains.
The public cloud portion of your hybrid solution should represent a good saving for the business so long as it’s utilised for the right applications. It’s important to be aware of using highly active applications on it as heavy usage of the public cloud. Equally, it's fair to assume that enterprises are persuing a hybrid cloud setup to stick these demanding workloads into somewhere private or dedicated to actively avoid large bills from AWS...
On the other hand, building an in-house private cloud can get costly very quickly. Unless it’s a mandatory requirement for security or legal reasons, consider a managed hosting solution for your private cloud. This could be a great way to cut costs while still meeting your business's infrastructure requirements. It will also mean that your team don't have to manage this cloud, freeing them up somewhat, which is always handy. Even if you think you need in-house private cloud hosting, it’s worth bouncing ideas off managed cloud providers to see if there’s anything other workarounds you hadn’t thought about, such as virtualising things so they can be remotely managed by your provider.
Managed solutions can be costly but also present the most complete package in terms of a hands off, scalable, fully supported package. The time (and with it, money) that’s saved by your IT staff getting rid of engineering work alone means that, in the long run, the pros quickly outweigh the costs.
Staff Skill Sets & Cloud Integration
This is where the real challenges with hybrid cloud come from, and it comes down to your IT department and the skills it possesses.
Applications and data are very much dependent on each other, so when you're transferring infrastructure to a hybrid cloud, consider the applications your business is reliant on and where the data is stored.
This way, you can take into account whether remote access is required during the migration or whether new systems may need to be implemented to save a whole heap of work in the long run.
In some cases, this could be a problem that is solved in one phone call with your provider, simply telling them you need your infrastructure transition and setup completely managed by their server engineers. As much as your internal team will be competent in many areas, it’s worth remembering that cloud providers are specialists in transitioning and migrating infrastructure, and will be well versed in the pitfalls that you might encounter during the process.
For a provider, it’s as simple as a consultancy project for them and would be a seamless and straightforward transition, handled by professionals that are very comfortable and efficient at doing it. Before you, or them, have started getting down and doing stuff, the consultancy is a chance to discuss, bounce ideas and plan contingencies. This process, while it costs, can be far less costly than doing it internally amongst day-to-day operations.
Network and system compatibility
The last thing to remember is the different stacks that will be involved in running two types of cloud in a split infrastructure, against your traditional or singular system.
Your private cloud will have one controller but your public cloud will be run by your hosting provider, so learning to control both across different management systems will be another task to take into account if not using a fully managed hosting solution.
If your team are able to effectively run both systems off of one management platform that could save some time and leave nothing up to chance.
With a patient and methodical approach, some honest discussion with a provider and careful preparation with your internal team, the changes can be seamless with the benefits showing through almost instantly.
Efficiency, reduced running cost, IT time saved and future-proofing your infrastructure are all wonderful plus points that come about from implementing a hybrid cloud... Behind those challenges are potential opportunities waiting to be seized.
At Cloudhelix, we strongly champion the full utilisation of hybrid cloud and for many of our clients, the transition has shown only positive and progressive benefits.