Last month, we attended the annual MEEC Conference and had the opportunity to present a topic of our choice. Our presentation was called, “Hybrid Cloud: How do I do it and how do I do it well?” Although this presentation was for the conference, we want to also share this with anyone interested!
Let’s first set the stage and define what ATS means by Hybrid Cloud. A Hybrid Cloud is a mix of on-premises infrastructure and private and public Cloud services, with orchestration between the platforms. It helps to provide a single unified infrastructure, whatever your IT infrastructure mix. A Hybrid Cloud gives you the ability to retain workloads and data on premises, while moving others to cloud services – i.e. AWS, Azure, Virtustream etc.
The three biggest reasons to choose a Hybrid Cloud model are flexibility, elasticity/scalability and cost savings.
A Hybrid Cloud gives you the flexibility to host legacy applications and maintain security conscious data on the premises, while also allowing you to put non-mission critical applications in public cloud. You can easily integrate applications, infrastructures and services, mitigate risk and simplify management while allowing IT to provide a unified service. The Hybrid Cloud will also easily work with fluctuating workloads by accessing additional computing resources from a public cloud to handle spikes.
Hybrid Cloud will give you the ability to leverage legacy IT investments and combine them with Cloud resources in order to more easily and cost-effectively extend IT capabilities. A flexible IT infrastructure will mitigate peaks and valleys and Public Cloud offers unlimited on-demand compute and storage – which means that you will only pay for resources consumed. This allows companies to respond without making large capital investments, thus providing new capabilities while reducing costs.
Transitioning to Hybrid Cloud will help your organization cut down on capital expenditure through changes in operations and maintenance. Energy consumption is reduced from fewer on premise servers because there will be less that need to be cooled and powered. Hybrid Cloud will help with staff efficiency and with application segmenting and infrastructure elasticity.
There is a methodology to starting and implementing a Hybrid Cloud, and it can be very complex. The steps to Hybrid Cloud are plan, design, migrate, manage and optimize.
You have to figure out why and how a Hybrid Cloud will help your organization. This starts with the “2-D’s”, discovery and definition. You should ask, “Which problems will the Hybrid IT solution solve?”. This way you can identify if it is beneficial to you and whether or not to go through with the rest of the process. After identifying ways Hybrid Cloud will help you, you will define objectives and fully understand how Hybrid IT can fit with what is already in place. This leads to then assessing what applications and infrastructure are currently in use. This includes workloads, applications, workflows, systems and datacenters. After figuring out what you currently have, then you should figure out life cycles and contracts associated with each application and define utilization rate – which resources are strained and which are underused. The main goal at this point is to identify the “4 Re’s”. This is when you identify applications that can be Replaced, Rehosted, Refactored or Rewritten.
After you have completed the planning step, you can start really designing how you will incorporate Hybrid Cloud. You have to start by figuring out what Cloud platform is best. This will depend on workloads and your specific needs when it comes to Cloud. Then you will design how it will be automated, orchestrated and secured. It’s important to think about how backup and recovery operations will occur and what the established RTO and RPO are at this point. In addition to this, you must figure out how to achieve and maintain compliance with PCI, HIPAA, SOX., FERPA, FISMA, CIPA etc.
There are many on-premise Private Cloud to Public Cloud Infrastructure services. Some of these are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Anthos (previously Google Cloud Platform), VMware and Virtustream.
Determine a migration strategy, meaning what will you move to the Cloud and how will you do that. It is important to determine this because efficiency is key to incorporating Hybrid Cloud. After putting a strategy in place, you will then figure out what timelines and workloads will be impacted and how. Also, at this stage, it is important to make sure data will not be lost in migration and how the applications will be resynchronized. Figuring these out will help the process move forward smoothly and help to create a fallback plan which will either help you to complete the Hybrid Cloud transition or it will help you to restore your data back to how it was should anything go wrong in the process.
After you migrate your current infrastructure to Hybrid Cloud, now you can gauge whether it is running accordingly or meeting expectations. At this point, it should be performing according to approved templates, and if not, you should take the right steps to correct what is going wrong or to improve it. This step is also important for making sure your monitoring and alerts are set up and figuring out what your service delivery model with deliverables from service providers is.
At this stage, you want to look for ways to make your Hybrid Cloud as efficient as possible and up to date. Start off by looking for cost savings whenever possible while adhering to regulatory compliance requirements and increase efficiencies while modernizing applications. At this step, you should start small and then repeat for additional applications.
Overall, it is important to know that there are many different options and ways to go about Hybrid Cloud, but it can be very valuable for companies and organizations. The 5 steps in the Hybrid Cloud process will help you address any problems, concerns or questions and help to seamlessly determine the best way to incorporate Hybrid Cloud. The process can be tedious, but there will be internal resources and external resources, like ATS, to help formulate Hybrid Cloud adoption.