According to the RightScale State of the Cloud 2017 report, hybrid cloud is the preferred strategy for enterprise IT. Eighty-five percent of organizations have a multi-cloud strategy, up from 82 percent in 2016. It’s safe to say the IT industry is trending towards hybrid solutions—at least for now.
That being said, hybrid clouds have their own set of challenges and opportunities, and organizations considering whether to move to a hybrid cloud should weigh their options carefully. In this article, we’ll talk about the advantages and challenges organizations face in deploying a hybrid environment.
More flexibility and optimized workloads. As mentioned before, this is the biggest advantage to a hybrid cloud. A hybrid environment is designed to maximize efficiency and still allow for scalability. Not all workloads are created equal—some are better placed in a public cloud provider, like application development, backend processes or applications that require bursts of compute and/or storage power, while others that require more security and low latency, such as real-time trading deal applications or patient health records are more suited to a private or virtual private cloud. Some applications don’t even need to be in the cloud at all—perhaps bare metal or a physical server is the best place for them. A hybrid solution lets you choose where you put your applications where they run best, giving you way more flexibility than before.
Billing optimization: One of the biggest concerns executives have with the cloud is cost management, and the hybrid cloud offers a solution that is win-win for everyone. Essentially, a hybrid solution lets you respond to your business needs the way you see fit. With hybrid, you can decide whether to model your business on an OPEX or CAPEX model, giving you the ability to respond to your business’ needs as you see fit.
Stability and availability: Downtime is bound to happen sometime. But when you run applications in and outside of your company network, you can better protect yourself from an outage, whether it occurs in the public cloud or within your own network.
Talent acquisition: When you work with experts who really know their stuff about the public cloud, you can rest assured knowing you’re getting the most out of your cloud spend. Your cloud team will be able to tell you which workloads belong where and how to optimize them, leading to more efficiency and better growth.
Handling multiple cloud providers: This perhaps the biggest challenge to managing a hybrid cloud by yourself. On average, according to RightScale, organizations are running at least 1.8 public clouds and 2.3 private clouds. Having multiple providers often leads to confusion over which cloud environment is being deployed when and keeping track of those costs, whether it’s your outsourced provider or your in-house IT team. So even though a hybrid cloud can help you manage your costs by maximizing your workload efficiency, it can also cause more headaches because you’re dealing with more than one provider. You’ll want a strong communication plan between your IT team and your providers’ teams.
Billing optimization: Yes, it’s a benefit of hybrid cloud, but without proper management, it can also be a huge challenge and a detriment to adopting hybrid cloud in the first place. It’s very easy to lose control of your public cloud spend, and if you’re juggling spending for multiple lines of business, cloud waste can be a major problem. You’ll want to keep a careful eye on your cloud bills.
Talent acquisition: Again, as with billing optimization, talent acquisition can also turn out to be a challenge for those organizations who choose to manage their hybrid cloud by themselves. Knowledge about the public cloud is still relatively new, and experts in Azure or AWS are hard to find. Unless you’ve already hired a team of public cloud gurus, you’ll have to invest a lot of time and money into training your employees, so they can keep up with the ever-changing public cloud landscape. Make sure you have the resources and talent you need available so you can take advantage of all the public cloud has to offer.
Communication between clouds: A hybrid cloud is all about maintaining connectivity between the public and private cloud networks and ensuring data transfer. How does your cloud strategy address this issue?
Solutions in mind
How do you go about solving these challenges? Perhaps the best solution is to use a managed hybrid cloud. A managed provider should have the public cloud expertise you need at your fingertips and can handle the headaches of multiple providers and billing charges. Once you find that provider, you end up with all the benefits hybrid cloud offers without the hassle of taking care of it.
Hybrid cloud offers many benefits that are enormously helpful to organizations, but perhaps the most important one is more flexibility with data placement. Companies can place their data where it runs best, therefore maximizing efficiency and creating room for growth as they need it.
However, there are some challenges to deploying a hybrid solution yourself, and if they are not considered and mitigated carefully, they can prevent an organization from fully realizing the potential a hybrid solution offers. If you develop your cloud strategy around a managed cloud provider who can handle the challenges of billing, talent, and cloud communication, you’ll save your organization a lot of time and money. In a future article, we’ll go into more detail about the considerations you should make when moving to a hybrid environment.