“Look how much money we’ve made in the last year, and look how many of our customers have gone all-in to our cloud” – every keynote speaker at major cloud vendor conferences ever. Funnily enough, there is a correlation between these two statements.
Before I go any further, I’ll just explain what I mean by “all-in” when it comes to cloud adoption strategies. It essentially means that the business operates entirely out of the cloud – no on-premises servers or storage, just an internet connection and all the associated network infrastructure required to connect the person sitting at their desk to their cloud-hosted business applications.
Now, going back to the reason cloud vendors want you to go all-in to their cloud. Basically, it makes them money – lots of it. If you took all of your existing business applications and infrastructure from your on-premises environment and just put it all straight into a public cloud without considering suitability or undertaking proper optimisation, you would end up spending significantly more money than it would cost to continue running them on-premises.
The main reason for this is that not all workloads are suited to running in the cloud. Some prime examples of unsuitable workloads are latency-sensitive applications, storage of critical financial data, or simply applications that don’t make use of some of the main benefits of cloud computing – like horizontal scaling.
Enter Hybrid IT.
Hybrid IT is the concept of leveraging both on-premises (or colocated) AND cloud infrastructure to make use of their respective strengths while avoiding their weaknesses, to create the most efficient (technically and financially) solution for the business. It requires an acknowledgement from the business that IT is not just a necessary expense, but rather a means to gain a competitive advantage.
There are many ways to implement an effective hybrid IT solution, but all of them will require collaboration between business decision makers and the IT team. Here are a few more common elements:
- Take the time to create a proper hybrid IT plan. Business goals should be made clear from the get-go, and technology implemented to meet these goals. Create a roadmap detailing both financial and technical requirements, and use this to map out expected capital expenditures.
- Assess existing on-premises infrastructure and workloads. This is key, as determining which workloads are best suited to cloud and which are better off on-premises is the core of every hybrid IT implementation.
- Integrate on-premises and cloud services wherever possible. Ideally, whether a workload is located on-premises or in the cloud should be transparent to operational staff. Proper integration between on-premises and cloud-based infrastructure is essential for this to occur, and allows the business to be as flexible and scalable as it needs to be.