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Hybrid Cloud Management: How to Balance On-Premise and Cloud Infrastructure

Hybrid Cloud Management

Cloud adoption has been fast on the rise for years now. At least 94% of businesses are using cloud solutions to a certain extent, with the Flexera 2023 State of the Cloud Report revealing that more organisations are embracing multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies.

Going hybrid is a prudent strategy for many enterprises. The benefits of the cloud are well-documented, but keeping most data and some applications in an on-premise data centre is a security practice fitting for many companies. The ideal solution? A hybrid cloud that offers the best of both worlds.

In this blog post, we offer a clear definition of what a hybrid cloud is and its importance. We also explain the challenges that come with a hybrid environment, and discuss some important aspects to hybrid cloud management.

Hybrid Cloud: What is It and Why Should You Consider It?

What is it

A hybrid cloud is a computing environment that combines elements of both private and public clouds. This means data is stored and applications are run using both on-premise resources (private) and servers in external cloud service providers (public). Among the more well-known cloud providers are Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

The hybrid cloud strategy ideally capitalises on the strengths of public and private clouds, balancing these out with their respective limitations. For instance, public clouds promote scalability and flexibility. But they are not the most ideal for data security—a characteristic more associated with the private cloud. With the help of a strong hybrid cloud interconnectivity (using LAN, WAN, VPN, etc.) and hybrid cloud solutions, workloads can be automated and allowed to operate seamlessly between on-premise and public cloud environments.

There is no one-size-fits-all architecture when it comes to hybrid clouds. Every enterprise should discover for themselves what their business needs and goals are, and combine environments according to what works best for their applications and data. Hosted desktop environments for instance, traditionally kept on-premise with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) apps, can now be utilised as cloud services or desktop-as-a-service (DaaS).

The decision on how to structure your hybrid environment may also be based on industry demands. Financial institutions and healthcare organisations for example, handle vast amounts of sensitive data subject to government regulations. As such, keeping critical data in their respective private clouds would be to their benefit. Public clouds can be used to handle less sensitive workloads, particularly during peak transaction times.

Challenges of Hybrid Cloud Management

Hybrid Cloud Management

Managing hybrid clouds has its share of unique challenges. Overcoming these setbacks is key to implementing effective hybrid cloud management. When your company decides on a hybrid cloud approach, the top three challenges you should prepare for are:

  1. Integration and Migration

    Moving from on-premise setup to a public or a hybrid cloud and having them operate as a single cohesive system is not easy. It could be one of the most complicated steps that you will encounter in this entire process. More specifically, you will have to deal with applications that can only run on either a private or a public cloud, and the interdependencies that exist among these applications.

    For instance, cloud workloads may need to interact with apps that will not run on a hybrid environment. Many legacy software systems are also unable to integrate with a cloud architecture. In addition, remember that data integrity, consistency, and continued system availability should be maintained while integration and migration is ongoing.

  2. Security and Governance

    The threat of data breach is always present whether you move to the cloud or not. One way to leverage cloud solutions while still ensuring data security is to keep sensitive data in a private cloud. However, this is not a foolproof solution. Cloud apps may still need to access data stored in on-prem servers. Ensure that your cloud providers are also implementing strict security policies to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. This should also keep out malware that exploit vulnerabilities in the public cloud.

    In relation to security concerns, adhering to government regulations and industry standards on handling of personal data should also be a primary consideration. Compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, and other data privacy laws can be challenging because you have to evaluate the components of the hybrid cloud separately and as a holistic environment.

  1. Cloud Governance

    Cloud governance covers the policies, controls, and processes established for efficient management of a hybrid cloud. This governance structure ensures careful management of the organisation’s combined cloud resources including performance, elasticity, costs, security, and all other aspects of your hybrid cloud infrastructure.

Key Steps to an Effective Hybrid Cloud

Steps for effective management

A successful hybrid cloud implementation starts with a carefully planned approach, then balanced with sound decision making and the right cloud management. Here are some steps that your enterprise may find useful as you further your cloud adoption:

  1. Define your cloud vision

    If you’ve yet to set up your hybrid cloud, knowing what you want from this move will help guide your next steps.

  2. Assess existing workloads

    Evaluate the workloads, applications, and data in your current setup and determine the right place for them in a hybrid cloud. Consider factors such as resource requirements, data security, compatibility, and others.

  3. Develop a hybrid cloud strategy

    Once you've evaluated your workloads, establish a clear outline on which applications go where.  A workload placed in the right cloud will allow you to leverage the benefits of the hybrid environment. Include in your strategy how data will be accessed and synchronised between the two clouds.

  4. Determine costs

    Create a costing plan for hosting workloads in each cloud. Components such as resource demand/usage and data transfer costs are essential in your budgeting.

  5. Establish networking and connectivity

    Ensure reliable connection between your on-premise network and your chosen public cloud. A strong network connectivity will ensure low latency and adequate bandwidth.

  6. Identify network topology and choose technology

    Choosing the right architecture patterns and network topologies is critical to connecting your environments reliably and securely. Support implementation by choosing the right technology tools for these processes.

  7. Review and adapt

    Getting it right the first time is unlikely in a complex architecture as a hybrid cloud. Monitor performance, costs, and effectiveness of your setup, and fine-tune as needed.

Managing resources in a hybrid cloud setup requires knowledge, experience, and a deep understanding of the organisation’s needs and of the cloud environment. If you’re looking to establish the right balance for your hybrid cloud, managed services providers can work with you to help determine what you need for your current systems. Talk to us today - we'll help you get started.

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