According to Gartner, 90% of organisations will have adopted a hybrid IT approach by 2020. That's just three years away, with many businesses now either planning – or indeed already using – a combination of integrated physical and cloud resources. If you're one of the businesses investigating this hybrid space, you could soon be on your way to improved scalability, flexibility and performance - but only if you end up with the right environment.
Here are five of the things you should consider when looking to evolve your IT strategy using a hybrid model.
1. Networking and connectivity
If your existing physical infrastructure is on-premise in a private data centre or colocated elsewhere, there’s a good chance you take for granted the ability to connect and configure your hardware however you like, and understand the importance of diverse network connections.
No doubt you'll want to maintain a similar level of control in a hybrid environment, so make sure early discussions with potential cloud providers cover this key area. Indeed, connectivity will likely be fundamental in terms of how you might wish to use your environment. Check with your provider how the two environments will work together in terms of networking, how workloads might be shared between them, and what control you'll have over networking within the cloud environment itself.
More generally, ask yourself (and the provider) the same questions you'd ask if you were building out physical infrastructure. Ask about diverse and redundant connections in and out of the data centre facility where your virtual environment will reside.
Further, if you find a provider that you have particular confidence in, you may have the option of building your full hybrid solution within a single facility with the benefit of direct connections between your colocated kit and your new software-defined data centre.
Data security is a priority for any modern business, but arguably even more so in hybrid IT where information is moving variously between on-premise data centres, private and public cloud environments. It’s therefore essential that you ensure there’s no security gap between these environments, and that high-risk data is only ever processed on high-security infrastructure.
Also, as it is likely you’ll be transmitting data across public networks, it’s important that your content remains secure and encrypted, both at rest and in transit.
And (echoing an idea above) your due diligence for any cloud provider should include the same security checks that you would cover if you were colocating equipment. What measures are in place to safeguard the physical hardware that your cloud environment will be running on?
3. Support and management
Finding a provider who is willing to operate as a partner and not just a supplier is key to developing a successful hybrid IT strategy. After all, they’ll be the team helping to support your infrastructure on a day-to-day basis and are ultimately the people who can help drive your business forward. Ideally, they should understand your environment as a whole – not just the elements under their jurisdiction – and be part of the discussion when planning and deploying your hybrid strategy.
What’s more, hybrid IT is a new and complex delivery model and even the most talented IT department may not have the skills or experience necessary to manage it – so you need support from someone who does, and who can act as a trusted advisor in the hybrid world.
And, as AWS’s recent outage tells us, the risk of downtime and data loss is most likely to come from human error, rather than any kind of system failure. This serves as a cautionary tale that reviewing management for operating processes, organisation, quality accreditations such as ISO27001 and general upkeep of infrastructure is crucial – in the cloud just as much as with colocation.
The simple truth is that cloud outages can and do happen. Therefore, making resilience a priority when transitioning to a hybrid IT approach means choosing a provider who understands how to minimise risk. Pay close attention to service level agreements (SLAs) that tell you what kind of resilience and uptime your provider promises to adhere to, and do your research into their track record.
To safeguard you in the event of an outage, ask about the backup technologies that your cloud provider can offer (such as Veeam for VMware), be clear on who is responsible for archiving data and do your own research about how reputable they are. This way, your mission critical workloads are stored and backed up somewhere safe.
On account of the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation, as well as existing laws and regulations surrounding data protection, the location of your data is a consideration that cannot be overlooked. Before you move into hybrid IT by extending your environment with cloud-based infrastructure, make sure you know exactly where your data will be stored – this is especially important for businesses who handle confidential and sensitive data.
Ultimately, for an organisation making their first move into hybrid IT, your considerations depend largely on choosing a provider – or mix of providers – that can give you everything you need to make your hybrid IT strategy a success. Here, reviewing connectivity, security, resilience and compliance is the way forward – but ensuring you have access to the right support and guidance is no less important.
Looking for a data centre provider that can offer a secure and resilient environment for both colocation and cloud-based infrastructure? To make sure you pick the right one, we’ve put together a comprehensive whitepaper.