Sep 05 2023

Why Businesses Should Embrace a New Mindset for Hybrid Cloud Management

As organizations aim for a holistic approach to hybrid cloud, upskilling staff and breaking down silos between departments should be top of mind.

As IT departments manage a mix of private data center and cloud resources in a hybrid cloud, businesses require a mindset change in how they work, not just the technology they deploy.

Not only must organizations modify their IT management practices in adapting to a more flexible environment, but they must change their business management practices as well, says Chris Gibes, manager of hybrid infrastructure for CDW.

Technology organizations must adapt their strategies from a traditional virtual machine environment on-premises to also use Kubernetes, Infrastructure as Code and containerization of workloads.

It takes a different skill set to manage these tools, and conflict may occur when they are brought together, according to Gibes and Neil Graver, executive technology strategist at CDW.

“The migration from on-premises to cloud is positioned sometimes as you can do one, and you can also do another, but in reality, it’s a very different skill set for the people who are kind of making that transition from on-prem to cloud,” says Graver.

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Embrace a Holistic Hybrid Cloud Approach and Reduce Silos

Organizations may have a networking team focused on routers and switches, a security team that handles firewalls, and server teams working with data center technology. A hybrid cloud mindset requires breaking down silos between traditional on-premises data center staff, who tend to be focused on hardware, and the cloud experts.

“There are still a lot of silos within organizations because they’ve traditionally been organized around skill domains specific to a piece of hardware,” Gibes says. “I often call that hardware-centric.”

In addition, organizations must break down workflow silos among various parts of their business, from finance to line-of-business leaders. That involves bringing together application owners as well as IT, finance and security teams.

To eliminate these silos, companies can take a cloud center of excellence (CCoE) approach, in which representatives from across an organization become a kind of “board of directors” for a hybrid cloud deployment, overseeing strategy at a high level while leaving technical details to the IT department.

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A CCoE would typically include IT leadership as well as representatives from the finance department and line-of-business leaders whose teams will use the business applications that live on the organization’s hybrid cloud infrastructure, according to Graver and Gibes.

That’s a different approach than the one many organizations followed in the past, which often defaulted to IT leadership making decisions, then getting those decisions ratified by senior business leaders. “You need to have more of a committee approach,” Gibes says. “A cloud center of excellence can be a good model for empowering all of your organization’s stakeholders.”

A CCoE lets organizations’ architectural advisers consult with stakeholders before making investments in the cloud, Graver suggests.

DIG DEEPER: Learn how organizations are upskilling their employees.

To Unlock Hybrid Cloud’s Potential, Upskill Staff

The transition to a hybrid cloud also entails upskilling staff on both cloud and data center technology. That means training a cloud team in Kubernetes and the on-premises team in managing the new workloads on the cloud, according to Gibes.

Graver says IT professionals had a method for managing on-premises infrastructure across network, computing and storage, but they now face an “inflection point” in adapting to the patterns of hybrid cloud. Organizations must train employees to have a modern serverless architecture strategy rather than taking a classic system administrator approach.

“I would train them on some automation and some Infrastructure as Code and migration and flexibility to help in either a transition or for ease of use, moving workloads where you can,” Graver says.

“A lot of it has to do with retraining your existing staff as a first step.”

The training challenge will be to get employees to understand serverless architecture and containers in the cloud.

“The cloud team usually understands containers and serverless very well, but they don’t understand the underlying hardware and the things that need to work,” Gibes says.

Virtual machines take a lot of that off the plate and make it easier for somebody who has to manage from that perspective.”

Getty Images: drbimages, Vladimir_Timofeev

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