IT strategies for hybrid cloud

“If we think of a large modern enterprise, we may have two, three, four data centers; three, four, five public cloud providers; dozens if not hundreds of marginal places, ”says Sinclair. “And we have data moving all the time, and applications are moving everywhere.”

For example, the London Stock Exchange has dozens of data centers, hundreds of applications and a presence in Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, said Nikolai Plaunov. He is a director and technologist in the infrastructure and cloud division of LSEG, a diversified company that manages the stock exchange and also provides data-based financial services. Its portfolio includes virtualized applications that run on-premises, container applications that run in the cloud, and legacy programs that run on mainframes.

“What really amazes people today, compared to probably five or 10 years ago, is the idea,‘ I have these things in my data center, and I have these things that I’ve moved to the public cloud, and I you need to manage a lot more things, ”Sinclair adds. “Now I live in a world where I not only need to manage a lot more things, but I’m constantly dealing with data and applications moving in all directions.”

One of the most significant consequences of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in terms of information technology (IT) was the sudden unplanned migration of applications to the cloud as organizations quickly switched to remote workers and increased the number of online shoppers. Today, companies are finding one foot in the cloud and the other is still in the local world, facing significant challenges in how to manage this mixed IT environment, how to protect it and how to keep costs under control.

Hybrid cloud IT infrastructure, in which resources are distributed between local, private clouds, and public cloud environments, enables companies to accelerate time to market, drive innovation, and increase business process efficiency. And companies are very eager to keep his promises: more than a third (37%) say the hybrid is an investment priority for the next year and a half, according to an ESG survey in 2021 among 372 IT professionals.

But the complexity of hybrid cloud management creates challenges that can strike key information officers, including compatibility with legacy equipment, cybersecurity issues, and costs associated with data movement and data access control.

To successfully manage a hybrid cloud environment, organizations need a specially designed hybrid cloud management plan that includes the right tools and strategies. These approaches may be as diverse as business types, but some recommendations apply to different areas – the need for a central management plane, such as the use of automation to manage IT operations and the transition from infrastructure management to service level agreement management. with sellers.

It all starts with apps

Russell Skingsley, chief technology officer for digital infrastructure at Hitachi Vantara, says most customers began their cloud travel with somewhat unrealistic expectations. At first, they believed that all programs would end up in the cloud.

“They find that“ there are things we can move, there are things we can move, and there are things we definitely can’t move, ”Skingsley says.

Sinclair adds that while the rising tide is definitely lifting enterprise applications from the data center to the public cloud, there is a backlash in which organizations are moving some applications from the cloud back to the data center. Some of the reasons cited by organizations speak to the complexity of managing a hybrid cloud: they include requirements for data sensitivity, performance, and availability.

To effectively move applications to the public cloud, organizations need to create a systematic methodology, almost a factory-style assembly line that analyzes each application in its portfolio and then decides which ones to “lift and move” as they are in the cloud, which ones to rebuild or rewrite to take full advantage of the cloud while keeping it in place.

The first step is to conduct an inventory of the application portfolio. This can help organizations eliminate duplication and identify programs that no longer serve business purposes and may be decommissioned. The next step is to analyze applications through the prism of business results. Organizations then need to make decisions based on factors such as time, risk, cost and value.

In the London Stock Exchange Plaunov constantly balances the price with the criticality of the business. Each application is different and requires its own specific calculation. “I’ve seen a few apps that have been downloaded and moved to the cloud, and in some cases optimizing them and optimizing costs is pretty straightforward.” In other cases, converting a monolithic application to a public cloud can be costly because it entails splitting the application into smaller components.

The company’s risk management team analyzed its application portfolio and identified 14 high-priority programs in one of the business units. “If the app is critical to business and at the same time running on outdated infrastructure, then it’s an obvious choice to do something about it. And if you have already planned some changes in the application, if there are no regulatory or technological restrictions, then this is a candidate for the transition to the public cloud.

As more companies introduce more Internet-connected devices and sensors, they receive the initial processing of some data at the border and then move the relevant data to the cloud or data center. Organizations need to deploy a data strategy that determines where data should be processed and how to most effectively move data between nodes.

Ultimately, the hybrid cloud should become a flexible, resilient fabric that can meet changing business demands and respond on the go, handle the promotion of new instances of applications as needed, with basic storage resources that provide data processing and analytics, automatically responding to business needs, says Skingsley.

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This content was developed by Insights, a division of MIT Technology Review. This was not written by the MIT Technology Review.

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