Monday, 09 November 2020 16:38

Getting value from a hybrid cloud strategy

By Brian Holder,Tecala

GUEST OPINION by Brian Holder, General Manager Sales and Marketing at Tecala: Since first rising to prominence in the late 1990s, cloud computing has become a key component of many company’s IT infrastructures. The benefits it offers in terms of cost, performance, global scale and manageability are well understood and documented. But for many organisations the key challenge they face with the cloud is how they should configure the different architecture and service offerings into a reliable, stable and secure foundation for their business.

There are three main types of cloud models that deliver different types of services. These are public, private and hybrid and it’s worth having a quick review of each before we delve more deeply into hybrid in particular.

Public clouds are operated and owned by cloud service providers, who deliver their computing resources and storage over the internet. AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure are three good examples. The public cloud is ideal for organisations who need or want to consume software, platforms and IT ‘as a service’, and want little or no physical interaction with the actual ‘tin, wires and boxes’.

A private cloud refers to cloud computing services used exclusively by a single organisation. It may be owned, managed and operated by the organisation, a third party (like Tecala) or some combination of the two, and it may exist on or off the premises. Organisations that need complete autonomy and control in their cloud will choose this model.

Hybrid cloud combines a private cloud with one or more public cloud services, through a software layer that allows data and applications to be shared between them. Hybrid cloud provides organisations with the flexibility to move workloads between cloud solutions as needs and costs fluctuate.

For the vast majority of mid-size organisations in Australia (and around the world) the hybrid model offers the best potential for freedom, flexibility and control in the cloud. It allows organisations to enjoy maximum benefit and value from the cloud environment, through a unique configutation of private and public clouds, delivering a fluid mix of cloud computing services.

Embracing the hybrid cloud

Rather than being constrained to using a single provider, different services and capabilities can be chosen from a range and combined as required. So the key challenge for any organisation developing a cloud strategy is ensuring they get the maximum benefit and value from the cloud environment.

Because building a team of internal specialists is beyond the means of most mid-size organisations, the most cost-effective and efficient method is to partner with a managed service provider. This will ensure organisations achieve the right blend of cloud services, that are not only right for the business, but which also comply with industry regulations.

For example, a company may make use of a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform such as Salesforce to meet its CRM requirements, store its central data resources on Amazon’s AWS, and run an analytics tasks on Google Cloud. At the same time, some core applications or data which need to comply with industry regulations may remain within the company’s own data centre, whether that’s on premise on co-located at a third-party facility.

Taking this approach also brings the advantage of reduced risk. When all resources are placed on a single cloud, any disruption to that platform can have a significant impact on operations. By spreading workloads across multiple cloud platforms, the risk of widespread disruption is lowered.

As mentioned previously, this strategy also delivers improved levels of security. If all an organisation’s data is stored within a single cloud, it provides a tempting target to cybercriminals. Spreading data across multiple clouds means that significantly more effort would be required to harness it for nefarious purposes.

A further advantage comes in the shape of cost reductions. If tied to a single cloud provider, an organisation is at the mercy of their pricing structure with any rises unavoidable. However, when there are multiple providers in the mix, the prospect of shopping around for better rates becomes a reality.

It’s possible, for example, to source storage capacity from one cloud provider and compute resources from another. In this way, a virtual IT infrastructure can be created in the most cost-effective way possible.

The importance of effective management

As a cloud-based hybrid architecture becomes more complex, the task of managing it also intensifies. So to get the most benefit from adopting a hybrid cloud IT architecture, it is important to have the ability to manage the range of components being used. This is a very different task from managing on-premise systems or even a single cloud provider as data and applications in multiple locations need to be managed as a cohesive whole.

Many organisations don’t wish to add the perceived complexity of cloud management to their internal IT teams workload, or they simply can’t due to resource constraints. Hybridity to them is seen as an added complexity which causes many organisations to shy away from it. Paradoxically however, in attempting to take a more simplistic approach, they end up actually increasing their costs.

The reality is, that when it’s managed well, a hybrid strategy is a clear winner, because it enables you to dial resources up and down as your organisation’s requirements change, which means you stop paying for storage or compute resources that are not being used.

A managed service provider will also deliver the ongoing focus and expertise required to maintain the right ‘blend’ of cloud services for your business. Hybrid cloud conditions can change rapidly impacting on the optimal blend your business needs, so your MSP should be providing confidence that they’re constantly tracking this moving target.

Through automation tools your MSP can monitor all components within the infrastructure and make changes where required. For example, workloads can be shifted between clouds at times of peak demand or additional resources can be sourced and put to work. This always on vigilance ensures yoru cloud maintains optimal performance from both a technical and commercial perspective.

The most progressive companies today have realised that a hybrid cloud strategy delivers the most value, optimising cost and technology capability – with the right technology partners working alongside them, management teams don’t need to restrict themselves to one type of cloud. Instead, businesses can take advantage of any type of infrastructure, platform, or software as a service

Hybrid clouds are rapidly becoming the standard approach and this will continue in coming years. Whether you decide to develop your own hybrid cloud or partner with a leading Cloud Services Provider, investing the time to ensure your cloud comprises the most effective mix of resources will ensure the all potential benefits are realised. And you’ll continue to enjoy a perfect blend of cloud experiences.

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