Apr 26 2016

How Companies Can Make a Transition to a Hybrid Infrastructure

Companies moving to a hybrid infrastructure for data centers face complex challenges, so collaboration and preparation are key.

Any organization planning a transition to a hybrid infrastructure for their data centers should start by carefully analyzing and defining its existing infrastructure, including internal and external computing, network and storage resources. Hybrid infrastructures combine a variety of technologies and methodologies, including virtualization, private clouds and other internal IT resources, along with external options such as hosting, colocation, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings.

“The ideal approach is for a company to start with a total data center assessment to understand where it is starting from in terms of the resources they already have on hand,” says Courtney Burry, senior director of product marketing for end user computing with VMware.

Once the initial assessment has been completed, the next step is to begin deciding which parts of the organization’s IT infrastructure should remain in-house and which areas can be better handled by external vendors or service providers.

Ensuring IT Collaboration Is Crucial

“The goal is to always aim toward maximizing the benefits a particular approach brings without compromising the stability, security or integrity the business relies on to reach its performance and growth objectives,” says Greg Schulz, founder and senior adviser for Server and StorageIO, an IT advisory consulting firm.

As the planning and transition processes move along, Schulz advocates taking a holistic approach toward setting and meeting project goals, actively involving line-of-business and IT stakeholders, as well as advisers and solution providers. “It’s important to gain stakeholder buy-in to support IT infrastructure initiatives,” he notes.

To ensure that the planned hybrid infrastructure will function seamlessly, IT staff should take the lead in encouraging developers, architects and infrastructure managers to collaborate closely on key project elements. “Creating a hybrid infrastructure is at its core a human endeavor that requires cooperation, the resolution of conflict between internal teams, the division and sharing of responsibilities, and the creation of new roles,” says Cliff Grossner, data center, cloud and software-defined networking research director for IHS, a business research firm.

According to Jason Newton, senior director of marketing with the enterprise group at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), transition planning also enables organizations to identify potential savings opportunities and free up resources that can be used to cover the costs of migrating to a hybrid infrastructure model. “There’s always a rebalancing of capital expenditures [CapEx] and operational expenses [OpEx] that happens as part of the transformation, and a lot of that is freeing up that capital in order to invest in the effort to transform in the first place,” he explains.

Management and orchestration tools are critical for balancing OpEx and CapEx in hybrid environments. “The ability to templatize and manage applications at a single point across multiple platforms is critical to keeping OpEx in check, and layering virtual functionalities is a great way to reduce CapEx while creating a more modular and mobile work environment,” says Keith McManigal, regional vice president of channel sales in the Americas for F5 Networks, a network application delivery technology provider.

VMware’s Burry suggests that organizations can accelerate and potentially simplify a hybrid infrastructure transition by turning to either hyperconverged infrastructure appliances or virtual storage area network (VSAN)-ready node appliances. These solutions come preconfigured with the computing, storage and networking resources needed for specific applications. “This model allows customers to enjoy a right-sized compute infrastructure with a SaaS-based cloud managed service for a low and predictable cost,” she explains. “Moreover, these attractive cost models apply to customers who are starting with as few as 200 desktops or who are scaling to well over 2,000 desktops.”

McManigal advises organizations to create testing environments for all apps that will be migrated to the cloud. “Making certain that apps are fast, secure and available in the cloud is a critical step to make sure that the move to the cloud doesn’t result in decreased productivity or security,” he says.

Maintaining continued data center security is another important part of any hybrid infrastructure transition. A hybrid infrastructure creates new security demands as data flows among resources dispersed across various locations. Hybrid infrastructures are most fully protected by integrated solutions, such as Trend Micro Deep Security, which is designed to create a seamless environment between the existing data center infrastructure and cloud deployments. The product allows adopters to operate securely on-premises and in the cloud, while maintaining compliance standards from a centralized dashboard.

Making the Shift to a New Model 

“The move to desktop and app virtualization is real and is happening, but it’s all about making this changeover easier and more cost-effective — and this is really what a hybrid approach does,” Burry says. “It pairs the best of cloud management with on-premises infrastructure to deliver a solution that is easier and more cost-effective than ever before.”

For some organizations, achieving an effective infrastructure poses a challenge for IT staff members who may not have sufficient expertise with sophisticated technologies. A trusted IT partner can help fill in these gaps for many organizations.

“Find a good partner that can help you through the process,” Burry advises. “They can guide you on resourcing.”

To learn more about how the evolution of IT is affecting enterprise data centers, visit CDW.com/datacenter.

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