Lief Morin is the president of Key Information Systems, Inc., a leading regional systems integrator with world-class compute, storage and networking solutions and professional services for the most advanced software-defined data centers.
Gartner predicts that 74 percent of enterprises are pursuing hybrid cloud strategies, and given the conversation around hybrid cloud this year, that number is only expected to rise in 2015.
Large-scale public clouds deliver real value in terms of compute power and economic advantage, but there are still workloads and use cases that are best kept on-premise. Whether due to regulatory reasons, company preference or other factors, public cloud is not always the best solution.
The interest in hybrid cloud might be widespread, but that doesn’t mean the needs are uniform. There is no one-size-fits-all hybrid cloud approach. You need to find the strategies, technologies and expert help that best match your company’s individual needs.
Which Cloud is Best for You?
In most instances, the best way to determine which cloud is best for your business is to look at the infrastructure you have today, and then consider what you’re looking to build and what you want to see as the end result. Enterprises need to ask fundamental business questions, including:
- What are we doing as a business and why?
- What does our budget look like?
- What are our security needs?
- What cloud skillsets do we have in house and what do we need to outsource?
If you are evaluating limited customer service, public cloud alternatives, where your data and applications are secondary to your business model, you need to look at more than just price. Organizations considering a public cloud solution need to ask themselves:
- What kind of ongoing support do we need?
- Do we need to know where our data is being housed?
- What kind of service-level agreement is necessary for our business?
With most of the big players, the price is a reflection of the service; low prices likely mean you won’t have access to people when you need support.
Private clouds, while offering the maximum in security and privacy, can be expensive. Unless you need a maximum level of security for all of your data, private clouds can be overkill. This is where hybrid cloud has found a niche – it offers the affordability and accessibility of a public cloud while providing the option of privacy and security for your sensitive data.
Driving Your Own Hybrid Strategy
When crafting a hybrid cloud strategy, it is best for IT teams to take a phased approach. Step one is to examine all the different cloud options and solutions that meet your company’s needs – not the needs of your competitor, your neighbor or an enterprise you saw featured in a case study. Identify the blend of public cloud and on-premise solutions that fit your company to create the best possible mix.
If you decide to rely on your own internal team for cloud implementation, the next step is to develop a clearly defined strategy and ask key questions, including:
- Have we considered the capabilities the cloud might offer next year or in five years?
- Is the cloud solution we’ve chosen the best bet for scaling over time?
- Which capabilities can public cloud providers offer us, and which will our team have to provide?
- What kind of post-migration support will the team need, and are we equipped to provide it?
Cloud implementation presents a constant learning curve. To be successful, in-house teams need to be knowledgeable, open-minded and willing to continue their overall cloud education. Many organizations provide ongoing training for IT staff to stay ahead of cloud innovation, but others choose to partner with a cloud provider for specialized expertise.
Partnering With a Provider for Hybrid Cloud Help
As they pursue hybrid cloud strategies, enterprises are looking for highly integrated, well-architected infrastructures. For this reason, many enterprises choose to work with a channel partner or a consultant that can provide strategic guidance around cloud adoption. This guidance should be based on a provider’s holistic understanding of and experience with all the related components of the IT system. In addition, an external partner can save an enterprise the cost of keeping its IT staff, which can be transient, trained on rapidly developing technologies.
If you opt to seek out expert assistance with your hybrid cloud strategies, keep regional issues in mind. Are you partnering with someone who can:
- Deliver superior service?
- Meet your latency requirements?
- Tell you where your data will reside – preferably somewhere nearby?
Regional cloud providers can answer these questions affirmatively.
Hybrid Cloud Trends in 2015
With companies eager to take advantage of an architecture that offers the benefits of cloud computing alongside the option of on-premise operations, cloud interest and adoption will continue to rise. As your IT team determines how to best map out and adopt hybrid cloud strategies, you should look first and foremost at your own requirements, rather than seeking out one-size-fits-all solutions for highly individualized needs.
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