Taking a clearer look at the promise of hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud promises a lot, but it’s important to weigh up the immediate costs versus long-term benefits.

Not a day seems to go by without hearing about another benefit of hybrid cloud computing. Let’s take a closer look and evaluate the benefits of hybrid, while keeping an eye on the challenges.

The notion of being able to deploy workloads in a concerted way across any type of infrastructure is certainly attractive enough – and it makes for great marketing – but before we get too excited, it’s time to take heed of some of the hype.

Hybrid cloud is often seen as a panacea for flexible IT service delivery, but in reality, the costs to reach a hybrid cloud state can far outweigh the benefits.

Now, I’m not saying hybrid doesn’t bring any benefits, it does, mainly the short-term benefit of allowing on-premise and cloud to integrate eases stakeholder anxiety when it comes to cloud adoption strategies, particularly around data security, application performance and vendor lock-in. 

A hybrid architecture interconnects private and public cloud (including cloud-to-cloud) infrastructure in an automated way, enabling a great deal of flexibility.

The main question for IT and business leaders is should hybrid cloud be part of a long-term strategy? Immediate benefits include workload automation; however, will hybrid enable true digital transformation, or will it drag you down in the long-term?

The biggest challenge is in order to get there you need to invest heavily in the technology and resources to handle the automation. For many organisations – particularly those just getting started with cloud – this involves a huge step up from where they are today.

Hybrid can cost a lot in the short-term, and many organisations have found the value delivered is not as high as anticipated.

Meet multi-cloud, a sensible path forward

When I speak with our CIO and business leader clients, their priorities are improving their organisations service delivery capability and its ability to transform and innovate.

They are interested in adopting cloud to get the immediate benefits and are less concerned with bridging the old and the new.

This is where are multi-cloud strategy comes into its own. It helps you adopt cloud in a more standard way that is generally portable.

A multi-cloud strategy and architecture is less prescriptive about how you spread workloads across clouds and focuses on using private or public clouds in a discrete way.

If your long-term goal is to move to public cloud, then a multi-cloud architecture will reduce the risk of overspend and technical debt. And we developed a world-leading multi-cloud practice to guide organisations to an optimal cloud architecture from the outset.

With public clouds such as Azure and AWS now having reached protected status, amongst other security certifications – and world-leading technology providers such as VMWare offering their advanced virtualisation platform on public clouds, – we need to ask is private cloud a part of a future technology strategy? 

In the case of VMware on AWS, there is a clean migration path to cloud with minimal changes to the infrastructure. VMware on AWS provides a fast path to immediate benefits of public cloud, including operational efficiency, scalability, flexibility, and is a great alternative to retaining a private cloud and enabling hybrid connectivity.

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A simple hybrid cloud checklist

If your strategy is considering both hybrid and pure cloud adoption, here are four main areas to review before you begin any project.

·       Networking and other components: A hybrid architecture requires automation at every level of the stack, including network and security. Consider the required investment in software-defined networking and the role this would play in your long-term strategy.

·       Business transformation needs: Take a “horses for courses” approach to technology transformation and if this does not hinge on hybrid then there may not be a compelling reason to pursue it. 

·       Watch the workload roadmap: Why invest in hybrid cloud if it will be obsolete in a relatively short period? Review your workload and application roadmap and if they can be modernised in a reasonable timeframe then public cloud should deliver the same outcome.

·       Invest in cloud transformation: Use the hybrid cloud budget and invest in the inevitable transformation to cloud-native or SaaS delivery options. 

Today’s multi-cloud world

With so many options for private and public cloud computing, developing a multi-cloud architecture delivers the capability to accelerate the migration of infrastructure from private data centres and server rooms – get the full benefits of public cloud while retaining on-premises infrastructure as required.

With a multi-cloud architecture, IT and business leaders can adopt any cloud on a fit-for-purpose basis, avoid vendor lock-in and establish a platform for growth and scale.

Start by evaluating exiting workloads for multi-cloud suitability and develop an understanding of how migrating to cloud will impact existing infrastructure and apps.

When performing a migration, it’s often good practice to do a proof of concept where workloads can be migrated to cloud for testing. Then, if it does not work out for whatever reason, the environment can be destroyed immediately ceasing investment in infrastructure or turned into production with little effort.

A modern cloud architecture involves more than just infrastructure flexibility. New on-demand options for discrete components (such as a database) allow you to modernise applications and take advantage of cloud in different ways.

This blog is about cost and risk, not theory. Hybrid cloud is great, but make sure you know what you’re getting into – including the long-term costs and benefits – before jumping on the hypothetical bandwagon.

At Tracer Cloud our motto is “Cloud Made Easy” and in most cases that means multi-cloud, not hybrid.

Develop a strategy with data centre evacuation as a priority to shift focus from operations to a native cloud transformation, and hence digital transformation program. With greater cloud flexibility you can retire applications that are not strategic and transform to more business-enabling capabilities.

David Johnston is Founder and Managing Director of Tracer Cloud, www.tracercloud.com.au