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Tuesday, 17 May 2022 11:04

Why Australian businesses are increasingly adopting a hybrid-IT strategy

By Aden Axen, cloud services manager, Somerville

GUEST OPINION: Since cloud computing became a mainstream concept in the mid-2000s, businesses of all sizes have been focused on the benefits it can deliver.

From a reduction in the need for on-premise resources to the ability to rapidly scale to meet changes in demand, cloud platforms have shown themselves to be a valuable technology option.

Some organisations have embraced the cloud concept so fully that they use it to support their entire IT infrastructure. No longer reliant on in-house servers, applications, and databases, they secure processing and storage capacity externally as it is required.

Others, however, have taken the decision retain their existing systems. They see benefits in maintaining control of their infrastructure and keeping it protected from the outside world.

However, there is a third group of organisations that has a foot in both camps. Their technology strategy involves retaining some systems in-house while shifting others to a cloud platform. Dubbed hybrid IT, this approach gives the proponents the flexibility of cloud platforms along with the control of on-premise infrastructure.

A hybrid cloud infrastructure also allows an organisation’s applications and data to be housed on the platform that is best suited to its requirements. For some, this could be a public cloud such as Amazon or Azure while others will perform better running on hardware within a hosted data centre or private cloud.

It’s also important to understand that a hybrid-cloud strategy can be adopted in stages. Rather than taking a big-bang approach and shifting all resources to a new location, systems can be selected and migrated over an extended period.

Embracing the hybrid cloud
To deploy and manage an effective and efficient hybrid-cloud infrastructure, an organisation’s IT team will need to undertake series of key steps. These steps include:

Evaluate all sources of data across the organisation: To ensure optimal efficiency and reduced costs, it’s important that data is stored on the most appropriate platform. For example, transactional data may be best suited to a high-performance public cloud while file backups may be best stored on an on-premise, legacy server. Carefully review all stored data across the business and determined whether everything is in the most appropriate place.

Check all applications for cloud suitability: Like data, some business applications are suited to cloud deployment while others are not. Evaluate all applications currently in use and determine which need to be migrated to a different platform.

Ensure effective IT security measures are in place: Deploying a hybrid-cloud infrastructure will increase an organisation’s flexibility, however it will also have an impact on IT security requirements. Traditional measures, such as firewalls, cannot provide protection for resources that are stored or run on an external cloud platform. Ensure all security tools are carefully reviewed to confirm that adequate protection is in place for all assets.

Compare a range of cloud alternatives: There are a wide variety of public cloud platforms on the market, so it is important to assess which is the best fit for each particular workload. Factors to consider include performance, operational costs, and levels of reliability.

Have a structure in place that enables effective management: When a business has its IT resources spread across multiple platforms, proper management becomes essential. Consider deploying tools that will allow these resources to be managed using a single portal to reduce complexity and improve response times.

Realise that being 100% in the cloud may not be the right goal: It can be tempting to think that the long-term vision should be to have an organisation’s entire IT infrastructure migrated to the cloud, however this is not necessarily the case. Being ‘cloud native’ may suit many start-up businesses however established organisations with legacy infrastructures are likely to be better served by a following hybrid strategy.

Be sure to be flexible moving forward: The task of creating and maintaining a hybrid-cloud infrastructure is not a set-and-forget exercise. It’s important to regularly assess the evolving cloud landscape and ensure the mix that is in place is delivering the maximum value to the business.

Deployed and managed effectively, a hybrid-cloud strategy can deliver significant benefits to a business. IT resources can be scaled to match demand while the need to invest in expensive on-promise infrastructure is reduced.

Take time to assess whether a hybrid approach could be a good fit for your organisation. It could provide the resources you require in a much more flexible manner than keeping everything in house.

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