IT organizations are constantly pulled in two directions—unrelenting demands for faster service delivery on one side, and unyielding requirements for security, compliance, and cost efficiency on the other. For many, a hybrid cloud is an ideal approach to meet these seemingly irreconcilable forces. Hybrid cloud refers to running some IT infrastructure and services on-premises and some in a public cloud, with the goal of providing interoperability that makes it easy to extend, burst, or migrate operations among environments. Hybrid multicloud represents the cutting edge, with connectivity between an on-premises datacenter and multiple cloud providers.
When done right, a hybrid multicloud promises greater agility, flexibility, security, and cost control, all while accelerating digital transformation. But the challenges around integrating disparate cloud operations can be a real impediment.
Here are 5 strategies to address these issues head on, freeing you to design a state-of-the-art hybrid multicloud solution.
Strategy 1: Create a Unified Infrastructure Control Plane
Every cloud—public or private—is unique, and this poses perhaps the greatest challenge to managing infrastructure across a hybrid cloud or a hybrid multicloud.
Getting clouds to work together well is often so onerous that most enterprises just focus on leveraging them separately. But operational silos are highly inefficient and complex. What’s needed is a unified control plane that gives you the ability to monitor, manage, and orchestrate across all environments with a single set of tools.
How to get there:
1. Choose a single control plane that you can apply everywhere, abstracting the differences among different environments.
2. Modernize your datacenters with hyperconverged infrastructure, enabling you to use that control plane as broadly as possible.
3. Choose public clouds where you can use that control plane.
Strategy 2: Streamline the Application Lifecycle
Once you’ve unified your infrastructure control plane, the next step is to do something similar for applications. Cloud users such as developers and architects want fast and easy access to application services in addition to infrastructure services. The hybrid cloud model and the growing complexity of application stacks make manual deployment methods time consuming, error-prone, and expensive. Application-level automation and orchestration are quickly becoming essential.
A variety of tools are available to facilitate application deployments—both in a single cloud and across multiple private and public clouds. Capture the institutional and operational knowledge of your team using intelligent, automated tools so that application deployments and other life cycle processes can be repeated with a minimum of technical understanding or user inputs. Done correctly, automation and self-service not only shorten delivery times and avoid the risk of human errors, they encapsulate best practices and ensure that policies for governance, security, and data protection are applied correctly every time.
Strategy 3: Migrate Applications More Easily Among Clouds
True hybrid multicloud allows you to choose the right cloud for the workload or application, including the ability to easily move applications to a different cloud when it’s beneficial. However, the need to rearchitect or replatform applications when moving them across clouds, and the complexity of the migration itself, can be deal-breakers.
A unified platform (the same infrastructure platform everywhere) provides a universal control plane, enabling you to move applications among clouds as simply as moving an application from one datacenter to another. Once you have the application VMs and data in the desired cloud location, you should be able to shut down the application in the original location and start it up in the new location. The data movement can be accomplished using replication, or you can employ disaster recovery tools to failover the application, avoiding a service outage. Solutions should also automate the transfer of networking settings and provide the ability to test a migration prior to cutover.
Strategy 4: Enable Consistent Security Policies Everywhere
Expanding to multiple clouds can significantly increase security and compliance challenges, mainly because each cloud has its own security models and tools. This often means there’s no standardized approach to security monitoring and remediation, and without a global view of security across your cloud environments, applying the same security policies everywhere is a manual process. This situation increases the risk of data breaches and other cybersecurity threats. These circumstances also make it hard to meet compliance obligations.
Doing away with security silos is vital to address these challenges. Choose solutions that abstract the differences among various cloud security models to provide global visibility of your company’s security posture. Advanced capabilities such as automated compliance audits and automated or one-click remediation can also enhance security and compliance.
Consider taking a zero-trust approach, granting least-privilege access to resources based on application requirements or the identity of the user requesting access. Adopting zero-trust methods minimizes the attack surface, prevents malware spread, and improves audit and compliance visibility, reducing the risks and impacts of security breaches.
Strategy 5: Track and Optimize Private and Public Cloud Spending
Today’s multicloud environments include a diverse set of services supporting both traditional and modern workloads. Failure to manage this complexity leads to increased costs. Cost overruns can result from excessive upfront costs, unexpected scaling costs, and wasted or oversized resources and services. Cloud users are often better at provisioning resources than they are at releasing them. This can be due to a lack of visibility, mistakes, or neglect. To control usage, reduce cloud spend, and avoid wasting resources, you need to be able to monitor and meter actual costs, identify and eliminate unused resources, and identify and rightsize underused resources across your public and private clouds. You also need to be able to optimize your choices based on actual consumption.
Implement tools that provide cost governance across your private and public cloud deployments. This provides a single point of management and optimization, simplifying cost tracking and making it possible to cost optimize private and public cloud operations.
Advanced capabilities such as reserved instance analysis and the ability to identify resources that are over-provisioned or aren’t being used (and the ability to hibernate VMs), can substantially reduce your cloud spend.
As with every technological solution, your organization must identify its goals and priorities for each of the above strategies, as well as “must-have” capabilities for your hybrid multicloud solution. For recommendations on identifying cloud goals and key capabilities, and to learn more about each of these strategies, download a free copy of the OReilly report: Hybrid & Multicloud Management: Five Strategies to Increase Agility and Efficiency in an Evolving Cloud World.