Get the Best of Both Worlds with Hybrid IT

By Special Guest
Amanda Regnerus, EVP of Product and Services, US Signal
  |  September 15, 2020

Until recently, enterprise IT managers came under considerable pressure to choose between cloud-based or on-premises computing models. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. Hybrid IT has mostly eliminated the “adopt or not-adopt” argument. This gives businesses the flexibility to mix and match their on-premises solutions and a variety of different cloud architectures in a way that best suits their needs.

For many businesses, not having to choose between cloud and on-premises will come as a huge relief. On-premises software and systems are not always ‘legacy,’ and ‘legacy’ systems may not be anywhere near end-of-life. Businesses may depend on on-premises systems that have been designed for their particular needs, or they may have vast amounts of capital tied up in them. There may also be some critical applications that only run on legacy on-premises systems. This is true of the UK banking sector, which—although London is one of the world’s economic hubs—still largely depends on AS/400 servers and DOS programmers.

Hybrid IT—A New Set of Questions and Dilemmas?

Today organizations have to decide which elements of their enterprise infrastructure should be accessed through a public or private cloud (or combination), and which components can remain on-premises or in an offsite data center. But shifting the debate away from an either/or proposition doesn’t make it a more straightforward question—and many businesses still struggle to find a framework that will let them take full advantage of hybrid cloud technology.

The problem for many businesses’ hybrid cloud infrastructure may sound like a monolithic entity. But if you scratch the surface, you'll discover islands of IT infrastructure waiting like dots on a map to be connected as your Hybrid IT adoption journey progresses. Some software is completely incompatible with other systems. By contrast, other applications may have the potential to connect—but need expert help to do so. To make matters worse, in many cases little planning or discussion has taken place to decide how or when to phase out older software or systems and introduce streamlined, modern replacements. If this were a collection of musicians, now would be the time to hire a conductor—someone who can see the big picture and keep everything flowing in time and tune.

Given the complexity of Hybrid IT environments and the amount of planning required—not just at the outset, but at pivotal strategic points throughout the implementation—we would strongly recommend that organizations carry out a technology audit. Some companies choose to do this in-house, but we would advocate using an external consultant who can rise above potential internal politics to deliver a much more impartial, holistic view.

Putting Your Hybrid Cloud Vision in Motion

When a company begins its digital transformation journey, it helps to understand the differences between public, private, and hybrid clouds. All of these options often can co-exist with an on-premises solution such as a data center or a co-location facility managed by a service provider. Public clouds provide infrastructure and services to the public, and resources are shared with other companies. The most widely used public cloud services are those offered by Google (News - Alert), Amazon, and Microsoft.

Private cloud solutions are dedicated to one organization or business, and usually offer more security controls than public clouds. This appeals to companies that handle sensitive information, such as financial and healthcare organizations, or those working with national or local government agencies.

A hybrid cloud is a mix of public cloud IaaS infrastructure with private cloud solutions. Some organizations use private cloud environments for their IT workloads and public cloud resources to handle spikes in network traffic. Each usually has its own data center in a different location—to increase redundancy and security. The public and private cloud components should be linked by a robust encrypted connection that lets applications and data move freely between each system.

Many enterprises choose to adopt a hybrid IT enterprise architecture to improve agility and security and to better align IT with business Until recently, enterprise IT managers came under considerable pressure to choose between cloud-based or on-premises computing models. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. Hybrid IT has mostly eliminated the “adopt or not-adopt” argument. This gives businesses the flexibility to mix and match their on-premise solutions and a variety of different cloud architectures in a way that best suits their needs.

Hybrid IT—A New Set of Questions and Dilemmas?

Today organizations have to decide which elements of their enterprise infrastructure should be accessed through a public or private cloud (or combination), and which components can remain on-premise or in an offsite data center. But shifting the debate away from an either/or proposition doesn't make it a more straightforward question—and many businesses still struggle to find a framework that will let them take full advantage of hybrid cloud technology.

The problem for many businesses’ hybrid cloud infrastructure may sound like a monolithic entity. But if you scratch the surface, you'll discover islands of IT infrastructure waiting like dots on a map to be connected as your Hybrid IT adoption journey progresses. Some software is completely incompatible with other systems. By contrast, other applications may have the potential to connect—but need expert help to do so. To make matters worse, in many cases little planning or discussion has taken place to decide how or when to phase out older software or systems and introduce streamlined, modern replacements. If this were a collection of musicians, now would be the time to hire a conductor—someone who can see the big picture and keep everything flowing in time and tune.

Given the complexity of Hybrid IT environments and the amount of planning required—not just at the outset, but at pivotal strategic points throughout the implementation—we would strongly recommend that organizations carry out a technology audit. Some companies choose to do this in-house, but we would advocate using an external consultant who can rise above potential internal politics to deliver a much more impartial, holistic view.

Putting Your Hybrid Cloud Vision in Motion

When a company begins its digital transformation journey, it helps to understand the differences between public, private, and hybrid clouds. All of these options often can co-exist with an on-premises solution such as a data center or a co-location facility managed by a service provider. Public clouds provide infrastructure and services to the public, and resources are shared with other companies. The most widely used public cloud services are those offered by Google, Amazon, and Microsoft (News - Alert).

Private cloud solutions are dedicated to one organization or business, and usually offer more security controls than public clouds. This appeals to companies that handle sensitive information, such as financial and healthcare organizations, or those working with national or local government agencies.

A hybrid cloud is a mix of public cloud IaaS infrastructure with private cloud solutions. Some organizations use private cloud environments for their IT workloads and public cloud resources to handle spikes in network traffic. Each usually has its own data center in a different location—to increase redundancy and security. The public and private cloud components should be linked by a robust encrypted connection that lets applications and data move freely between each system.

Many enterprises choose to adopt a hybrid IT enterprise architecture to improve agility and security and to better align IT with business needs. Some organizations want to free up IT staff resources to move to higher-value, revenue-producing initiatives. Others are looking to seamlessly scale up to the cloud-based on the fluctuating demands of the business—without compromising data security.

Protecting Your Data at All Times

We’d recommend picking a cloud service provider that doesn’t leave anything to chance—someone who can help you map out the entire process, develop a plan to get your enterprise hybrid IT configured and realize the best possible business outcomes.

Depending on your needs, your chosen vendor can take on some or all of the data migration process, including assessing application cloud readiness, determining and executing the appropriate migration methodology, and creating a post-migration plan. They should be experienced in performing successful cloud migrations and make the transition seamless.

It’s critical to ensure your business can continue operations and recover crucial data and applications if a disaster strikes. Continuity is also essential to your organization’s survival and success, so it’s reassuring to have a professional services team consisting of disaster recovery (DR) experts. A team like this can take on the management and monitoring of your backup and data recovery services, freeing your staff to focus on more strategic endeavors.

The transition roadmap is an essential aspect of any migration plan. One way to move forward is to transfer an application to the cloud, validate that it works, and then move data from the on-premises stack to the cloud. Another possibility is conducting a trial run with a few users to make sure all the affected applications are well-oiled and working before repositioning everyone to the new Hybrid IT infrastructure.

Six pointers for selecting a cloud service provider

In-house IT professionals are busy. Most are short-staffed and operate on slim budgets. Researching alternate ways to use cloud technologies, and figuring out how to architect and test them, just doesn’t make the priority list. That’s why we recommend partnering up with a cloud service provider. Here are six pointers you should consider:

1. A consultative approach

Your cloud service provider should take time to understand your organization’s short- and long-term business goals, your current IT strategy—and any other key factors—before proposing any IT solutions. At this very early stage, you need a consultant who is prepared to take the time to properly reflect on and discuss the different options with you.

2. Get workload-based recommendations

Choose a cloud service that’s designed to run production-class workloads. Unlike “swipe your credit card and go” cloud services, you’ll get the uptime and high-performance environment you need to handle critical enterprise workloads and web, mobile, and social applications, DR, and industry-specific solutions.

3. Dynamic resource allocation

Choose the resources you need and dynamically allocate them when and where they're required. When more than one cloud service is necessary, your provider can help develop and expand your hybrid cloud IT strategy and deliver the secure networking connections to move data safely between the various IT environments.

4. Regulatory compliance

Select a Cloud Service Provider that has undergone rigorous independent audits each year to validate its compliance with HIPAA and PCI (News - Alert) DSS. Not all the big-name providers can make this claim. Furthermore, only a handful of them have an in-house compliance officer to answer your questions and provide audit documentation.

5. Network ownership

Find a cloud service provider that owns and operates its carrier-grade network. You’ll minimize network downtime and latency while ensuring reliability, speed, and security. Check if they have redundant architecture and whether they will continuously monitor network performance on your behalf.

6. Round-the-clock support

Look for a provider that can offer 24/7/365 support. See if there’s an SLA in place for call answering times—calls to the best performing cloud service providers are typically answered by qualified technicians within 30 seconds.

The IT infrastructure of the future is decidedly hybrid, which means taking the best of the public, private, and hosted/managed cloud and running each workload in the most suitable location. Starting the process with thoughtful questions—and a curated list of business and technology objectives—should make selecting the right cloud service vendor partner and transitioning to a hybrid IT environment an empowering endeavor.

About the author: As Executive Vice President, Product and Services at US Signal, Amanda Regnerus has a talent for strategic development/alignment in the channel; attracting, developing, and empowering high performance sales teams; and developing marketing plans that deliver immediate ROI. She also possesses an exemplary track record (and reputation) of business-to-business solutions selling, account management, product development and marketing leadership with exceptional go-to-market strategies in both the IT and telecommunications industries.




Edited by Erik Linask