Did you know that by 2020 almost a quarter (24 percent) of the “total addressable IT market will be cloud”? That’s Gartner, Inc.’s prediction in the 2017 Planning Guide for Cloud Computing.
With the continued maturity of the public cloud, and the aggressive adoption of cloud services across all industry verticals, companies are feeling the pressure “to build and invest in cloud-first strategies and architectures.” But the hybrid cloud computing puzzle can turn into a nightmare without key management strategies. Here are four that will help ensure success.
1. Start with a plan
Getting the most out of hybrid cloud computing means evaluating and quantifying your current workloads while also looking to the future. Be sure to include both the applications and the associated IT system, along with behavioral policies and relationships between resources. And consider both short- and long-term plans that will affect your IT needs.
For applications, due to application timing, must run together in a data center or room, you’ll have to avoid geographic dispersal. For other processes, consider if it’s technically feasible to move a workload by accessing the potential security and regulatory risks, and determine the business value, including cost benefit and business-criticality.
If you haven’t taken workloads to the cloud, then don’t be in a hurry to move everything at once. Instead, look at the process as a test drive. Avoid moving customer-facing resources until you’re more familiar with the platform. Discover how the change affects your employees and your company by weighing the benefits against the loss of control. Then you’re ready to scale up when it makes sense for your business.
2. Select best-fit cloud providers and services
Hybrid cloud computing services run the gamut from public “as a service” models to private cloud and co-located data centers. Based on your plan and associated workloads, you can begin to evaluate platforms and providers to find the sweet spot between cost and performance.
Public cloud options include software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Because of limited customization and the potential for unexpected software updates, SaaS works best for business applications that are not mission-critical. As the smallest tier of the public cloud, PaaS handles applications developed in house and open-source solutions where the business maintains the source code. You’ll find the greatest flexibility with IaaS, an option that can run most of today’s on-premises workloads that are capable of virtualization.
As you make your selections, be sure to factor in the levels of management tasks required of your IT department and understand the degree of control you’ll have over each resource.
3. Beware of cloud sprawl
As organizations move more workloads to the cloud, it’s common to encounter cloud sprawl. That’s when limited visibility or lack of control over cloud computing resources allows the proliferation of cloud instances, services, or providers.
For example, a software developer might create a new workload in the public cloud to test a new software version, later neglecting to delete the workload when it’s no longer needed. There’s also the problem of excess SaaS instances. That’s when a company that uses an online service like Microsoft 365 creates and pays for user accounts that go unused.
You can fight cloud sprawl by monitoring employee use of public cloud resources and establishing clear policies. Open lines of communication among business departments to prevent duplication of resources and require regular reviews of billing and contract renewals.
4. Optimize as you go
By moving to a hybrid cloud computing environment, you’ll have the data you need to drive even more efficiencies within the cloud. You can more easily provision resources that are used to find solutions for critical business needs. That means less time problem-solving as your business responds to market demands.
Cloud also creates operational efficiencies for IT by incorporating the latest infrastructure, middleware, and apps, rather than forcing you to depend on outdated legacy systems. It’s truly a game-changer that reduces the total cost of ownership for technology by taking advantage of economies of scale.
You’ll also have the option of working with an experienced partner that can further optimize your IT processes in the cloud. The outsourcing is easy to do, and a cloud managed services provider has the knowledge, resources, and connections to customize a strategy that fits your business needs while keeping your budget in mind.