IT strategies for hybrid cloud

“If we think of a large modern enterprise, we could have two, three, four data centers; Three, four, five public cloud providers; Dozens, if not hundreds, of edge locations, “says Sinclair. “And we have data being moved and apps rotating everywhere at all times.”

For example, the London Stock Exchange Group has a presence in dozens of data centers, hundreds of applications and Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, according to Nicole Planov. He is a director and technologist at LSEG’s Infrastructure and Cloud Division, a diverse company that operates stock exchanges and also provides data-driven financial services. Its portfolio includes virtualized apps running on-premises, containerized apps running in the cloud, and legacy apps running on mainframes.

“Perhaps what really affects people today, compared to five or 10 years ago, is the idea, ‘I have these things in my data center, and I have these things that I went to the public cloud and I have to manage. A lot of things, “Sinclair adds.” Now, I’m living in a world where I don’t just have to manage a lot of things, but I’m constantly dealing with data and apps that are moving in all directions. . ”

One of the most significant effects of the 2020 coronavirus epidemic from the perspective of information technology (IT) is the sudden, unplanned migration of applications to the cloud, as organizations move quickly to accommodate remote workers and increase the number of online shoppers. Today, companies are facing significant challenges in terms of how to manage this mixed IT environment, how to secure it and how to control costs, one foot in the cloud and the other still in the on-premises world.

The hybrid cloud IT infrastructure, which distributes resources across the on-premises, private cloud and public cloud environments, enables companies to accelerate time in the market, promote innovation and increase the efficiency of business processes. And companies are keen on its promises: According to the 2021 ESG survey of 372 IT professionals, more than a third (37%) say hybrids are an investment priority over the next year and a half.

But the complexity of managing the hybrid cloud presents challenges that can bed key information executives, including compatibility with legacy tools, cyber security concerns, and cost issues associated with moving data and managing data access.

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 can be as varied as the types of businesses there, but some guidelines apply across industries – the need for a central control plane, for example, the use of automation to manage IT operations, and the transition from managing infrastructure to managing service-level contracts. With.

It all starts with the app

Russell Skingsley, chief technology officer for digital infrastructure at Hitachi Vantara, says most customers started their cloud journey with somewhat unrealistic expectations. They initially believed that all applications would eventually end up in the cloud.

What they’re looking for is “there are things we can move, there are things we can move, and there are things we certainly can’t move,” says Skingsley.

Sinclair adds that while the rising tide is certainly driving enterprise apps from the data center to the public cloud, there is a countercurrent in which organizations are moving some applications back from the cloud to the data center. Some of the reasons cited by organizations for talking about the complexity of hybrid cloud management: These include data sensitivity, performance and availability requirements.

To effectively move an application to the public cloud, organizations need to set up a systematic method, almost a factory-style assembly line that analyzes each application in its portfolio and then decides which application to “lift and shift” to the cloud. Which is to re-create or rewrite the factor to take full advantage of the cloud, and which to keep on-premises.

The first step is to manage the inventory of the application portfolio. This can help organizations eliminate duplication and identify applications that no longer serve a commercial purpose and can be de-commissioned. The next step is to analyze the application through the lens of business results. Then, organizations need to make decisions based on factors such as time, risk, cost and value.

At the London Stock Exchange Group, Planov is consistently balancing costs with trading seriousness. Each application is different and requires its own precise calculation. “I’ve seen a lot of apps that were picked up and moved to the cloud, and in some cases, it’s relatively easy to optimize them and optimize their cost.” In other cases, converting a monolithic app to the public cloud can be costly as it breaks the app into smaller components.

The company’s risk management team analyzed its application portfolio and identified 14 high-priority apps in a business unit. “If the application is business-critical and still running on obsolete infrastructure, doing something about it is a clear choice. And if you’re already budgeting for some changes to the app, if there are no regulatory or technical limitations, it’s a candidate to move to the public cloud.

As more businesses deploy more Internet-connected devices and sensors, they find themselves on the edge doing some initial data processing, then moving the relevant data to the cloud or data center. Organizations need to configure data strategies that determine which data should be processed, and how to move data between nodes most efficiently.

Ultimately, the hybrid cloud needs to be a flexible, resilient fabric that can accommodate business needs and respond to the fly, spinning new application patterns as needed, providing the internal storage resources that provide data processing and analytics to the business. Responds Need, says Skingsley.

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This content was created by Insights, the custom content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by the editorial staff of MIT Technology Review.

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