Many businesses are turning to hybrid IT solutions as their demand for IT infrastructure grows beyond their in-house capacity. Indeed, hybrid IT – a popular approach that comprises a mix of in-house resources, managed hosting, network, and public and private cloud-based services – is being seriously considered in boardrooms of companies both small and large.
The overarching goal of hybrid IT is to assemble the ideal IT infrastructure for an organization. The result, if done properly, is a holistic infrastructure with the right combination of on- and off-premises infrastructure supporting the IT needs of the business and its application developers. Crafting this ideal infrastructure amid constant change and knowing precisely what components can be hosted offsite and which are best left in-house is challenging.
What’s the Best Approach?
Before an organization can fully embrace the hybrid IT model, knowing the strengths and core competencies of the IT department is vital. Your IT department may be particularly adept at managing servers or databases, but might not have the in-house skill set for managing network infrastructure or certain applications. If this is the case, the company may want to look for external expertise to help with management of those items. The alternative is to hire or train and ramp up IT staff skill sets, which can be costly and difficult – assuming that talent can be found.
IT capabilities need to be assessed on an ongoing basis and both the workload constraints and the benefits of hosting certain components in-house or offsite must be examined. Application lifecycle management and the price/performance ratio of where application workloads are hosted must be considered.
Ultimately, one should consider their IT department’s strengths and weaknesses, near-term and long-term demands, plus existing workload. These factors should weigh heavily in the decision of what IT services remain in-house and which can be hosted remotely by a trusted third party. If an IT department is highly skilled at managing certain types of applications, then you might elect to keep those in-house, but perhaps lean on a provider to offer the networking expertise, for example.
One of the main benefits of hybrid IT is the access to multiple infrastructure options and the wide breadth of IT professional services offered by cloud service providers.
By sharing the IT workload, a business can better focus its workforce. When supported by IT specialists on a 24/7 worldwide basis, internal IT staff members are spared the burden of having to handle every issue. Depending on the service level agreement with the service provider, the recovery time may take only a few minutes.
More and more enterprises are embracing hybrid IT approaches today. For example, this model reduced Cancer Research U.K.'s costs by 50 percent while speeding up performance with a combination of managed cloud, colocation, and network services. The organization has saved on IT monitoring and support and created a unique, dedicated hybrid cloud environment that not only gives it the 24/7 support it requires, but also gives Cancer Research U.K. a colocation environment in which the charity can continue development of its own web applications and its disaster recovery.
This flexibility allows the organization to make faster decisions and ensures it can keep technology costs down.
Regardless of your goals, the objective is to craft an IT infrastructure built from the best components and engage with a vendor that can help manage it. These decisions are not for the fainthearted. Making the choice to invest in a hybrid IT model requires adequate preparation and work upfront, but the results are a more integrated, scalable, and cost-effective IT estate for an organization.
A recommended approach is to secure the advisory services of an external entity to work closely with the internal IT department in building tomorrow’s infrastructure, though this is not a one-and-done exercise. The mix of hosted and onsite IT infrastructure must always be assessed and analyzed – and is always changing.
Establishing best practices and supplementing your IT department’s core competencies will help determine how you can keep ahead of fast-changing business needs – and it will enable your organization to reap the benefits of a well crafted hybrid IT implementation in return.Jim Battenberg is director of platform user enablement at CenturyLink
Edited by Alicia Young