Pragmatic Approach to Hybrid IT (Infrastructure)
Enterprises are keen to jump onto the cloud bandwagon but the approach must be realistic. Hybrid IT presents itself as the right solution. The journey begins with understanding what Hybrid IT stands for, the management and monitoring aspects, evaluation of use cases, and finally deciding the approach based on long-term objectives and business viability.
Hybrid cloud infrastructure or Hybrid IT is no longer a buzzword. It has become a phenomenon and a solution for enterprises looking to ‘shift’ a part of their infrastructure. We generally consider Hybrid IT as a combination of public and private cloud but that isn’t necessarily so.
How is Hybrid IT better defined?
A more practical definition of Hybrid IT is any combination of - a) public and private cloud or b) public cloud and on-premise data center. It also includes the aspect of virtualized data centers and does not restrict itself to private cloud alone.
A classic example of Hybrid IT for our understanding is – that of an enterprise migrating to cloud for Data backup and Disaster Recovery (DR) while retaining the original applications on-premise.
Managing Hybrid IT/Cloud
You need to understand that managing Hybrid IT is different from managing public cloud environment. Managing cloud environment completely depends on the cloud platform whereas managing Hybrid IT requires multiple skills plus the expertise on cloud platform. For a hybrid environment, we cannot depend on the platform because there are multiple options out there. A hybrid environment includes management of orchestrated and non-orchestrated but virtualized servers or workloads.
Take for example the case where you need to simultaneously take data from both VMware platform and on-premise data center and show that on the monitoring solution. This becomes quite challenging. Achieving this means, effectively augmenting the on-premise environment in a way that we can manage it the same way we do for the cloud environment.
How to manage Hybrid IT workloads despite their presence on multiple environments?
The solution comes in the form of cloud management platforms or CMPs.
There are two essential aspects to managing Hybrid IT – one, a monitoring solution that comprehensively monitors migration and two, a monitoring solution that can be integrated to all the parts of Hybrid IT be it public, private cloud, or on-premise.
Microland has a CMP solution that can help monitor Hybrid IT across multiple platforms, such as AWS, GCP, Azure etc., various private clouds and on-premise environments.
Hybrid IT – Use cases and scenarios
Let’s now understand the different use cases for Hybrid IT for enterprises to evaluate on.
- The first kind is where the main application(s) is on-premise whereas the support to it, such as data backup and DR are moved to the cloud
- The next scenario is of several applications, few running on public cloud, few on private cloud and yet a few more are running on-premise or data center
- In the commingled application use case, one part of an application resides on public cloud whereas the other part resides on-premise/private or another public cloud. It is kind of microservices model and we place respective microservices on best fit environments Take for example, an application that uses facial recognition, where the cognitive services part is kept on Google Cloud to capitalize on its high performance and optimized services whereas the rest of the application is kept on a different environment. This sort of arrangement can be cost effective for your enterprise.
- In the last use case, applications are on a full-blown hybrid cloud environment. It can be a mix of public and private or public, private, and on-premise. A classic example for this is when an enterprise opts for having applications on both Microsoft Azure and Azure Stack (on-premise extension)
Each of the above use cases is distinct in its approach and needs to be handled differently. The pragmatic approach to managing Hybrid IT is the right solution for the above use cases.
Deciding the approach on business viability and sustenance
Enterprises should decide on the approach to cloud based on business viability and long-term objectives. To help understand better, let’s use an analogy –
Completely moving to cloud is akin to permanently shifting to a hotel for living where one gets all the facilities at the door step but at a high cost. While it’s easy to put everything on cloud, it sure would be a very costly affair.
Another approach is to go with Colocation data centers (Colo) where enterprises own their servers and storage but can rent a Colo for space, bandwidth and physical security. This is akin to renting a house but not having the freedom to customize as per need. While the upside to Colo is cost savings, the downside is the lack of options to customize.
A third approach is to completely own a private data center, akin to owing a house. While enterprises have the luxury to customize all applications, there is the question of flexibility and scalability to future needs and changes. This approach requires heavy resource allocation and can prove to be a hurdle for enterprises’ future growth.
As a CIO with redefined responsibilities, you now have IT infrastructure objectives closely aligned with overall business objectives. Therefore, it becomes even more important to assess on the aspects of costs, plausibility, and ROI while opting for cloud. At the same time, it is equally important to assess application needs and appropriate infrastructure and how this infrastructure can be optimized. A hybrid infrastructure is the right solution.
Cloud adoption is a great strategy; there is no doubt about that. But the question you need to ask is that, is it the best strategy for your organization’s requirements and is it aligned with long-term goals?
Finally, as a CIO you will need to decide on the approach to cloud based strategic view points and objectives. A pragmatic approach always begins with understanding current infrastructure status and needs. It helps to analyze what workload needs what kind of architecture.
In a bid to sustain in this fast changing business environment, enterprises may have multiple application needs and the support of emerging technologies such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Predictive Analytics, Computer visioning, etc. A pragmatic approach to hybrid IT helps enterprise opt for only what they need.
Two examples of practical thought and action -
- A retail store extending into online shopping can opt for data analytics on cloud and retain the rest of retail applications on-premise resulting in process and cost effectiveness
- Hybrid IT facilitating microservices architecture where enterprises can put certain services on cloud while retaining others on-premise
You must realize that a cloud-first strategy might be brilliant but not necessarily the right one for your enterprise. It is easy to be influenced by markets, competition, and other factors and opt for cloud completely but that would not help and frankly speaking, isn’t the right way.
Rather, the right way is - never say cloud first, think, choose wisely and go for a pragmatic approach.