Hybrid IT - The New Reality
By Ramesh Munamarty, Group CIO, International SOS
What is Hybrid IT?
Hybrid IT is the result of combining internal and external services, usually from a combination of internal and public clouds, to support business outcome. Businesses can leverage Hybrid IT by optimizing the mix of public cloud, private cloud, and on-premises solutions to place applications and workload in the IT environment where it is best suited. According to Fujitsu Hybrid Hive IT Decision Maker Survey, 81% of the corporations believe that they will deploy a hybrid IT environment to achieve company objectives.
What are the challenges with the current options of hosting?
Traditionally IT used to house its infrastructure on its own premise or co-locate with a provider. Then public cloud became available and a number of companies became excited as it drove a significant reduction in time-to-market for business functions and perceived cost reduction funded by Operating Expense as opposed to Capital Expense.
However, although public cloud did drive reduction in time-to-market, pay-as-you-go scalability and provided flexibility to move workloads, public cloud does pose some key concerns and challenges. Privacy, security, and control issues are a major obstacle today. This combined with cloud outages, latency issues, escalating costs, and increased cost per transaction sum up the silos business currently face.
According to Forbes Insight of 302 IT Executives, 65 percent have discontinued or scaled back the use of a public cloud service within the past two years.
The other model for hosting was private cloud, where the infrastructure was still at the provider’s premise but rather than sharing with other tenants, dedicated infrastructure was provided to a client. This is clearly a more expensive option than public cloud that benefited from economics of higher utilization of shared resources. The trade-off for the higher cost was the attractiveness of private cloud is related to promise of better security, the ability to tailor and control the server and the flexibility to burst into public cloud if needed.
Businesses can leverage Hybrid IT by optimizing the mix of public cloud, private cloud, and on-premises solutions to place applications and workload in the IT environment where it is best suited
What can be done to mitigate the challenges of Public and Private Clouds?
Hybrid IT is an approach that offers a middle ground by hosting some IT resources in-house and using cloud-based services for others. It helps keep the balance among the clouds and addresses most of the challenges of private/public cloud mentioned above. Some benefits of Hybrid IT are in improved efficiency, greater flexibility, lower costs, and finally increased speed to market.
However, the challenges in this also is worth noticing — integration of cloud and on-premise applications, migration of workloads between environments, management issues on frameworks and data availability, and security challenges.
To offset these challenges, before moving to Hybrid IT, there are some of the questions you need to ask. These include what workloads should we move to private/public cloud, what is the baseline resource consumption we should consider for provisioning resources, how will applications perform in the cloud relative to their on-premises performance, what are the likely resource contentions, and what is the most resource-effective way to run a specific workload?
What are the measures to design and manage Hybrid IT?
To design an effective Hybrid cloud, consider the following—
Clearly define the infrastructure (network, cloud computing and social media) as concisely as possible. Now implement a decision-making framework that is interactive and flexible. Next review and adjust resource skills to match the new focus on service management rather than delivery. IT employees will need better managerial, analytical and risk management skills to evaluate and validate vendors.
Need to implement the right controls and audit processes to ensure the selected vendors are delivering as promised and that their services are secure. In case of vendor failure, will the business be financially affected and will the expectations of the key stakeholders be met?
Evolve an efficient vendor sourcing model to address a constantly changing vendor landscape. Along with this, you need a rigorous sourcing program to manage significant relationships with smaller vendors rather than a couple of large vendors. Finally you require a different contractual arrangement and redefined service levels.
In conclusion, Hybrid IT is the new reality. It is time for vendors and IT organizations to accept it and make sure it is designed well, workloads are effectively balanced between the various clouds, and traditional IT hosting and Operational controls are put in place to maximize the benefits.