Hybrid Cloud: Planning to Succeed & Avoid Pitfalls

Hybrid cloud is the best of both worlds — the ease and convenience of public cloud services, and the security and control of private systems that operate on-premises. For organizations concerned with privacy and regulatory compliance, or for those that just want to keep a closer eye on their cloud setup, hybrid cloud offers a great solution.

An example of where a hybrid cloud system was an ideal solution is a recent IT service desk implementation at a university hospital. The IT service desk could be securely deployed in the cloud, while the hospital’s ADFS authentication system was of such a nature that it needed to be deployed on-premise. This is a common scenario, where the most highly-confidential information is kept on-premise, while the less-confidential application information can easily be cloud-hosted.

A hybrid cloud system, when put in place properly, allows for scalability and flexibility. It ensures you are able to set security standards the way you want, while being able to access all that the public cloud has to offer. As with any IT solution there are things to avoid and things to strategize while planning a hybrid cloud deployment, to make sure that you get these ideal end results. Planning, thinking ahead, and choosing one’s partners wisely can make a big difference.

Planning Ahead to Overcome Hybrid Cloud Challenges

Every organization, large and small, has a lot of moving parts that keep the business going. From applications to computer systems to the actual physical infrastructure of your tech, switching to a hybrid cloud involves auditing what you have and how to migrate it for best effect.

Taking stock of your existing technology and infrastructure is key to future success. To know what you need, you have to know what you have. Some applications and programs will easily migrate to a cloud setup, whereas others will have to stay as an on-premise system or be replaced by something else. You may even have legacy applications that simply cannot be changed.

None of this is insurmountable, but you have to understand it to strategize for it. Auditing is a vital first step to any cloud strategy.

This kind of forward thinking can also help with getting buy-in from staff, stakeholders, and your own clients. Switching to a cloud setup may be a change for people who are used to the way you are doing things now, and you will have to show them a clear advantage to get buy-in for the migration. Understanding how things are going now and how they could be improved with a hybrid cloud system practically builds that case for you.

When you are creating your plan consider the efficiencies that could be integrated with a new system. If you are using individual tools or systems for each part of your business, think about what could be consolidated or automated — the simpler, the better.

The Cost of Hybrid Cloud

This is a pain point that can stop a hybrid cloud strategy in its tracks. If you or your stakeholders are focused on cost alone, you may lose sight of all that a hybrid cloud approach has to offer. On paper, it may look like it costs more than your existing infrastructure, and that could be true.

However, you have to consider the long term value of a system that is scalable and flexible, well into your organization’s future endeavors. The faster and more efficiently your organization can achieve its goals and objective thanks to hybrid cloud, the more it pays off in terms of productivity, reputation, market value, and eventually, profitability.

That being said, you do need to budget appropriately for a migration and it needs to be something the business can manage. Some organizations focus on migrating a few things at a time to test how the cloud will suit their business and reduce costs, gathering evidence for a more comprehensive buy-in at a later date.

Migrating to a Hybrid Cloud

Planning is the first step — executing that plan skillfully is what brings your strategy to life. Having determined what should migrate where, the next step is to make that migration as seamless as possible. We all know that any outages will inevitably lead to frustration, lost time, and lost money. While some downtime may be unavoidable, if you can minimize this pitfall you will be glad you made the effort to do so.

Again, the initial audit helps with this approach, uncovering what priority various aspects of migration should take. If the subject of your migration is your highly-visible email system, you should certainly make extra investment of time and resources to ensure that your email functionality is up and running post-migration with as little interruption as possible. Ideally, users and others outside of the IT department may not even notice that anything has changed, aside from appreciating the speed, reliability, and other great features of your new cloud system.

Maintaining and Optimizing the Hybrid Cloud

When all is said and done… it’s not actually done. As your organization evolves and changes, your cloud infrastructure needs to shift alongside. For example, if you find that you are regularly outpacing the speed or capacity of your infrastructure, it may be a sign that it’s time to upgrade. Be sure to build in a maintenance plan for your cloud infrastructure, checking in regularly to be sure that it’s safe, secure, and doing what you need it to do performance-wise.

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