For companies that require business agility, scalability and the opex cost model of the cloud, but desire consistent performance and control over security, compliance and long-term costs, one solution stands above the rest: hybrid IT.
Hybrid IT success goes beyond just determining which workloads to deploy in the cloud and which should run on your company’s infrastructure – whether in your own data center or a colocation facility.
There are three additional steps you should take to get the most out of your hybrid IT.
1. Own the base and rent the spike
This strategy takes advantage of both cloud and on-premises infrastructure to balance cost and performance requirements.
Owning the base means procuring the capacity and associated hosting you need to securely support steady state demand. This includes buying servers, networking and storage to be hosted on-premises or in a colocation data centre.
But it’s also common for organisations to experience spikes in demand and increased traffic during times like sales events. A public cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) environment provides the agility and scalability to rapidly accommodate these demand spikes, so you only pay for the infrastructure you need at a given time (i.e., renting the spike).
Renting IaaS capacity can be much more cost-efficient than purchasing hardware, since you aren’t investing in unused capacity outside of those spikes.
An “own the base and rent the spike” strategy is relatively simple for existing applications, but it becomes more challenging when deploying new applications. A simple solution is to rent capacity in the cloud, evaluate the utilisation and performance needs of that application, and then procure what’s required to deploy it on company-owned infrastructure.
This approach quickly identifies the true capacity and performance needs prior to committing to a large capital outlay and potentially overprovisioning.
2. Identify the right fit
When choosing the right environment for your workloads, consider the needs of your business and the application.
Public clouds are designed to maximize multi-tenancy to squeeze as many customers as possible onto their infrastructure. They also tend to offer services that are charged by the hour or the second (private clouds usually charge monthly). If you have applications that aren’t required 24/7 – like testing or development environments – you can save money by powering systems down outside of operational hours.
However, because public clouds are built to host many tenants, they can face capacity challenges. To mitigate this, public cloud providers offer services in predefined sizes or with specific performance attributes. Unfortunately, this can result in performance limitations and higher costs.
Additionally, the skills required to build and maintain a public cloud are less readily available and come with a steeper learning curve. This can make it more difficult for some organisations to meet compliance and regulatory requirements.
Meanwhile, private cloud providers tend to have a smaller number of multi-tenant customers, making capacity challenges easier to manage. This can allow for a wider range of performance offerings at a more cost-efficient price point.
Workloads that run 24/7 and don’t easily scale are often more cost-effective to run on private clouds, since public clouds often have predefined attributes that aren’t always a perfect match for the needs of the workloads. Private clouds typically offer fine grade matching of resource allocation that results in less overprovisioning and fewer wasted resources.
In terms of security, innovation within the public cloud comes at a faster pace than the private cloud, allowing you to deploy new services more quickly to address modern threats. However, these offerings are usually constrained to virtual multi-tenant environments, which may not meet your desired security posture. Private cloud can offer the benefits of both physical and virtual security offerings, albeit often at a slower pace of innovation.
The speed of innovation in the public cloud is not limited to security offerings; it extends to features like rewriting applications to become cloud native. However, turning a legacy application into a cloud-native application is a costly and time-consuming process, and for some legacy applications, is not easily accomplished.
Because every application and every organisation is different, a blended approach of public cloud, private cloud and on-premises infrastructure is often the best way to meet business needs.
3. Adaptable connectivity
Operating in a blended infrastructure environment means connectivity becomes even more critical. Traditional connectivity had monolithic contracts that were often fixed for several years, but today’s business needs are more dynamic.
Workloads may need to change hosting platforms or locations. As a result, the network needs to be more flexible than a traditional network. Out of this need, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) was born.
SDN, which is more cloud-like in its procurement approach, means connectivity changes can be made in seconds, scaling up and down and in and out, allowing you to pay only for the bandwidth you need when you need it.
The shift to remote work during the pandemic increased the need for internet bandwidth and often changed a company’s bandwidth profile, as tactical workloads were moved or created in the cloud. Traditional network connectivity isn’t able to respond to these changing requirements in a timely fashion, often burdening IT operations and negatively impacting business outcomes.
SD-WAN bandwidth and connectivity changes to public cloud and SaaS providers can be made within seconds (the same goes for addressing security and performance needs). This is why Sungard AS formed a strategic partnership with Unitas Global — a leading provider of connected multi-cloud environments — transforming its data centres into connection hubs and providing customers with a wide array of interconnection services to meet their changing business needs.
As you consider your infrastructure options, don’t forget about the network access to that infrastructure. For the fastest ramp-up, the least risk and the most predictable performance, private connectivity to your cloud provider makes the most sense. Private connectivity to a private cloud IaaS provider also allows you to improve security, reliability and predictability more than using the public internet – which will help you support compliance.
For latency-sensitive workloads or those with large amounts of data egress, locate your on-premises or colocated infrastructure close to your private cloud environment. This will help reduce latency, increase bandwidth and minimise data charges for maximum efficiency.
The best of all worlds
Eighty percent of organisations currently utilize a hybrid cloud strategy, according to the Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report. They’re maximizing cost-efficiency, performance, security and reliability, with the least risk of lost revenue and customers.
But to truly get the best of all worlds, you need to make sure you’re putting the right workloads in the right places and ensuring fast connectivity. Only then can you put yourself on the path to hybrid IT success.