There’s no doubt that organizations, especially small and medium-sized businesses, are rapidly embracing the cloud, driven by benefits such as improved agility and efficiency.
Research from a recent Gartner study predicts that by 2019, “more than 30 percent of the 100 largest vendors’ new software investments will have shifted from cloud-first to cloud-only.” The study considers the idea that “cloud-first, and even cloud-only is replacing the no-cloud attitude” that has dominated companies in recent years.
With little preference shown for either public or private cloud, organizations are moving in the direction of hybrid cloud.
This is in line with conversations we have every day with organizations in the United States, as most indicate that their three-year roadmap includes building a hybrid environment.
While on-premises environments will never go away completely, companies, especially small businesses, can become more agile and achieve significant cost savings by introducing a hybrid approach to delivering IT resources to key applications and development services.
Hybrid cloud is a combination of on-premises and off-premises (or cloud-based) IT infrastructure platforms. Enabling an organization to run applications on multiple platforms increases efficiency and choice, as no one platform is right for everything.
A hybrid approach allows an organization to choose the right platform for the right workload, all for the right price. This agility speeds up time to market for many organizations and improves the capabilities used by employees and customers.
This shift is, in some ways, a no-brainer in the near term; however, it is not without challenges and risks. It’s difficult for organizations that are used to a single, on-premises vendor or platform to build, manage and protect a hybrid cloud environment.
While introducing multiple platforms drives efficiency and choice, it also introduces complexity and risk for organizations ill-prepared to address this shift in strategy. Given these concerns, if you are considering a hybrid cloud environment, how do you get there?
Organizations that adopt a hybrid cloud architecture can become more efficient. Lower costs, pay-as-you-go models and access to a breadth of services are just some of the positive outcomes small and medium-sized businesses can achieve. These benefits enable companies to run tests, build new systems and adapt quickly. Best of all, businesses can see a faster time to market.
However, it’s important to consider that the changes required to enable a hybrid cloud can be risky and time-consuming, so different tools may be needed to protect the environments that are created. To address and avoid risk, businesses need to invest in security and immediate recovery solutions.
Traditional migration and disaster recovery methods based on individual pieces of hardware can disrupt the production systems they protect and are no longer adequate in the hybrid cloud or multiplatform world. These traditional replication, migration and recovery tools are, by design, incapable of protecting applications and environments that may span multiple on-premises and cloud platforms.
It’s no surprise that traditional ways of protecting applications in purely on-premises environments won’t suffice in the hybrid cloud world. Thus, we believe there are important processes to consider when planning the shift toward a hybrid cloud environment. Taking these measures will reduce the risk and prevent environmental exposure and complexity.
Planning: Planning is significantly easier if your environment has a protection, mobility and testing suite or platform that is agnostic to the infrastructure your IT runs on. By design, you can make changes to the platforms you use (on-premises or cloud-based) with no protection dependencies tied to that individual platform. Furthermore, an agnostic platform allows you to avoid introducing organizational risk when making changes, thus providing the agility that makes the hybrid cloud IT environment so desirable.
Testing: Any changes made to the environment — whether internal, on-premises changes or more complex shifts to cloud-based resources — will carry organizational risk. Thus, testing whether changes will be executed smoothly and successfully is the bedrock of any serious hybrid cloud strategy. Organizations moving to hybrid cloud need to consider serious risks such as downtime, data loss and the costs associated with infrastructure. A successful hybrid cloud environment will continue to test whether the applications absorbing infrastructure or platform changes remain available while (and after) those changes are made.
Future-Proofing: When introducing new platforms into the IT environment, it’s critical to future-proof your decisions. Can you protect your applications once they are moved to a new private/hybrid/public cloud platform? If the new platform doesn’t meet your expectations, can you move again easily? Such questions are very important to think through before any changes are actually made.
A hybrid cloud offers numerous advantages. If you do your due diligence and take the right steps to get there, you’ll find the rewards can be significant from both a cost and an efficiency standpoint.