By James Hunnybourne, Cloud Solutions Director, Ultima
A hybrid cloud environment promises a business an optimum
solution from a security, cost and accessibility perspective. It means that
organisations can move workloads between resources according to the needs of
Valued by organisations that want to continue operating
‘business as usual’ whilst driving their digital transformation initiatives,
hybrid cloud offers an agile and scalable approach to hosting applications in
Experts have estimated that the global hybrid cloud market will value at USD 63,658.0 million in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 6, 67,916.4 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 29.8% during the forecast period.
Many organisations start off by using a ‘lift and shift’ approach to moving existing applications over to their new cloud environment – whether through choice or pandemic provoked necessity. But the majority of these companies soon find that this approach lacks compatibility. Hybrid cloud introduces some major risks to an organisation that need to be carefully mitigated and managed if their cloud project is to be a success. Not to mention that in some cases, a lack of effective cloud management could see cloud budgets spiral or in other cases, are under-optimised with current estimations that up to 30% of cloud budgets are wasted.
So how do you design, integrate and manage a hybrid
cloud ecosystem so that it delivers all the security, cost savings and
efficiencies that were promised? This article will explain more.
What considerations need to be made?
Before starting your cloud journey, it’s important to take
into consideration the service infrastructure that is trying to be replicated
into the cloud environment. Working to a cloud adoption framework will give a
clear line of best practice.
Each cloud platform has its own framework of excellence and
is consumed in different ways. This demands a review of the reasons behind why
a business is moving to the cloud in the first place. A detailed benefits and
cost analysis should be undertaken to decide whether an application would be
better in a cloud environment rather than on premise. For example, do the
desired benefits come down to revenue generation, internal infrastructure,
employee productivity or another reason?
It’s the ecosystem of the platform that differentiates where
you place the workload. A lot of customer-facing businesses lean towards AWS
because of its affiliate ecosystem and marketspace which allows you to bring in
a multitude of third parties with ease. This is beneficial if you have broken
down your services into lines of code and looked at which elements other
providers could supply to ultimately reduce your time to value in delivering a
service back out to customers.
In comparison, Microsoft’s cloud environment is based on an
infrastructure way of working or GCP which tends to be used for its data-lead
capabilities. It’s important to choose a cloud provider that best suits your
business’ operating model. Is it more important that the platform allows you to
manage revenue streams or boost employee productivity and experience? The way
that you’re looking to improve efficiencies to boost the bottom line is an
important consideration here.
What are the pitfalls of hybrid cloud management?
Some of the first risks an organisation will encounter centre around governance and risk. For example; who has access to what data, how do you maintain an audit trail? From a security perspective there are also challenges around system vulnerabilities, insufficient identity, and credential and access management. There is a real need to apply effective hybrid cloud management to mitigate these challenges.
The risks differ depending on which multi-cloud
strategy is taken. Each cloud service – whether its Azure, AWS, GCP or another
– has its own characteristics and thus is consumed in distinct ways. For
example, AWS is a business revenue generating platform, therefore the risk of
revenue and reputation is massive if a business lifts and shifts a workload to
this environment inefficiently without a decent adoption framework or a centre
If the foundation isn’t right in the first place it could be
catastrophic; leading to loss of revenue, loss of data and loss of reputation.
The risk is that a business could end up spending more to fix mistakes then the
cost of moving to the cloud in the first place.
The other key issue is around adoption. There’s little point
in moving applications and services to the cloud if no-one ends up using them.
They need to be appropriate and relevant as well as functional.
How can an organisation avoid these pitfalls?
Take your time from the outset in building out a centre of
excellence. Research and employ good developers who will talk through a cloud
adoption framework with you. Remember that no matter how quickly you want to
migrate your services to the cloud, having too much haste will lead to
operational inefficiencies that will hold you back from the true benefits
Cloud transformation affects the whole business from finance
to HR, so while the overall strategy needs to be led from the top down, every
department needs to be listened to, to make sure their requirements are met.
Companies will either be investing in people or investing in
tools; but the market currently isn’t strong enough from a tooling perspective
not to require people. This is unless you look at it from a 1:1 perspective; in
this case, the hybrid cloud management of an on-premises environment to one
cloud platform is quite advanced. But we’re probably still a year or two out
for true multi-cloud management.
The pitfalls of trying to optimise a hybrid cloud
environment comes down to workload behaviours; are the applications that you’re
moving to the cloud ready? If not, you’re probably moving the problem to a
different location without resolving it. This will make your cloud project run
up unnecessary costs. There’s a lot of maturing that needs to happen to have
true hybrid cloud management within workloads and spaces. It comes down to
infrastructure, type of services, how employees are communicating to the
business and the overall operating model.
A move to the cloud is a good chance to consolidate and
optimise your applications and services.
Once a hybrid cloud environment is optimised, what’s
Most companies will initially lift a service that they have
on premises into the cloud and then they will start to look at redesigning
those applications natively by leveraging PaaS components instead of IaaS, thus
reaping the true benefits of moving to a cloud provider from on premise. They
can then look at bringing third party platforms, API integrations and managed
services into this, leading to second generation optimisation and app modernisation
A final piece of advice if you’re looking at hybrid cloud
management, is that you need to engage with a provider that knows both worlds,
as they will be able to deliver tried and tested capabilities. Having a partner
that is solely cloud or solely on-premises will ultimately do you a disservice
as they don’t understand the other side of the coin. A suitably designed,
integrated and managed hybrid cloud ecosystem can be as secure as conventional
on-premises IT while delivering improved productivity and business