What Companies Need to Know About Hybrid Cloud
By Daniel Lassell | April 9, 2019
Let’s admit it. One of the biggest challenges facing IT leaders today is: Where do I put my systems and why?
In InterVision’s recent podcast episode, Jamie Lee, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing, and Kevin Barker, Senior Technical Director, define what hybrid cloud is and dispel its common misconceptions. Listen here to the full episode, Is Hybrid Cloud Real?
The conversation first starts with defining what cloud means. “To a lot of people cloud is AWS,” Barker states, “but cloud is not a solution like AWS or Azure…cloud is a methodology, a model, a way of doing business.” The fast deployment and flexible capabilities of cloud allow for businesses to meet demands and evolve in the marketplace a lot faster than ever before.
“Cloud is a highly-centralized model” Barker says, referencing how the IT landscape has shifted over time from centralized to decentralized, then centralized models again. Cloud is the latest in this focus toward innovating the modern way people do business, enabling IT teams to quickly deploy and wind down systems as needed.
Defining Hybrid Cloud
In defining what hybrid cloud means, Barker first compares AWS’ definition to his own, saying, “AWS defines hybrid as an onramp to their cloud.” In contrast to AWS, he says that while this is one use for a hybrid environment, in reality hybrid involves multiple components and players, ranging from in-house to public cloud to private environments – all of which can have differing goals. Hybrid may not necessarily be provisioned as a means to another end.
Barker unravels the definition further: “[Hybrid] might be a cloud contained within your own datacenter or a cloud contained within a colo space,” he states, “It involves your development methodology [as well as] the tools for provisioning, monitoring your services, and being able to move your workloads where it’s appropriate across your cloud domains.”
Barker says that if a business is going to leverage multiple clouds, the real value comes from how well IT can move workloads and scale those clouds to fit their needs – which is an area where most businesses fall short.
Going to the Cloud
Businesses must decide if they are willing to commit to a single vendor or to a vendor with avenues to other product ecosystems. The focus should be around your company’s comfort with vendor lock-in. In order to avoid sensitivity, companies should focus less on specific products and more on business partnerships. Doing so keeps an eye toward embracing other solutions, which ultimately helps prevent closing doors to new opportunities.
When describing where he commonly sees companies struggle, Barker replies in agreement, “It’s all about the planning.” Starting with the destination allows for IT teams to determine the vehicle to get there. It’s paramount to have a firm strategy before even beginning a migration. Companies that are moving data and systems to the cloud may have little familiarity with managing cloud environments. If this is the case, then having a good, knowledgeable partner beside you during a cloud migration is key.
On selecting the right partner, Barker offers his advice, “Look at who you’re going to partner with on multiple levels…You want to work with a company with one foot in multiple worlds.” It goes back to having the right expertise for what you’re doing, and where you want to go.
When discussing the role of public cloud in IT strategy, Lee conveys that far too many businesses tend to focus solely on how to get to the cloud without considering how their organization might need to use an on-prem solution or another cloud environment down the road. “It’s hotel California; easy to check in, but you can’t check out,” Barker agrees. To avoid this lock-in, Barker says that businesses need to look beyond cost and determine a hybrid cloud strategy first and foremost.
Public Cloud Security and Management
Once in the public cloud, the need for robust security is even greater and needs to extend beyond the infrastructure level. The increase in accessibility alone presents a challenge in securing a company’s most crucial assets, which has contributed to some wariness in the marketplace when adopting cloud. Public cloud companies have gotten better over the years in addressing these concerns, but businesses still need to be vigilant with their data. This is because while public cloud providers now do a great job securing their own infrastructure, they don’t cover cybersecurity beyond this level, which means each company must plan for and implement their own cybersecurity to encompass the whole of their IT systems. On top of this, security should never be a set-and-forget approach.
IT teams must be sure everything will work across multiple types of environments, since cybercriminals will take advantage of these weaknesses. “The toolsets are more complex and require a level of sophistication that a lot of customers don’t necessarily have,” Barker says.
“Planning, planning, planning,” Lee reiterates.
The Future of Hybrid Cloud
Both Lee and Barker agree that hybrid cloud won’t be going away – in fact, it’ll be the opposite. As Barker claims, “I think it’s going to continue to grow. I think we will see customers more move toward hybrid cloud solutions over the years as the toolsets that you need to make that move easy and seamless – and fast, right, because that’s the thing. You want to be able to shift these resources where you need to shift them with the minimal amount of cost and overhead whether that’s machine or people overhead.” The true value of hybrid cloud will come in how companies leverage it and innovate upon that structure.
And that innovation is already occurring: “The open source community is very, very aggressively building out tools and taking look at what the big guys…have done to create the economies of scales and the efficiencies that they need to operate,” Barker says.
Having the right personnel to leverage the latest innovations will become even more competitive and important to achieving goals. Sometimes a wide bench of expertise in-house isn’t possible given budget and core business goals. Talent to do complex architectures may be slim or hard to retain. “We see people that are really good in one element and other areas. But combining that and pulling that together is key to achieving hybrid cloud,” Lee says. For this reason, the third-party service model continues to shift within the marketplace to meet company needs, growing ever more expansive. As the future unfolds, we’ll see more in terms of what organizations offload and what third parties take on.
“Frankly, this is an incredible time to be in the IT space,” Barker says, “The challenges that we face as solutions providers, the challenges we face as customers…they’re immense, but it’s going to be a lot of fun [in helping] our customers down this path to a brave new world.”