There can be no doubt that Cloud technologies are highly beneficial and have become an essential business enabler.
Today, the question is not whether to make use of Cloud services, but which services to push into the cloud and how much of the IT infrastructure to migrate. The challenge for Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and other IT leaders is to achieve maximum value from the Cloud while maintaining optimal levels of data security, which requires effective data management and control. Understanding the level of Cloud adoption that is appropriate for your business and adapting to the changes in process that the Cloud brings is essential in tackling this challenge.
Data security remains a pressing issue with regard to adoption of Cloud technologies. With virtualised machines and business-critical applications becoming Cloud enabled, data is streamed in from a multitude of new Internet-enabled devices. This is causing data growth to escalate both in terms of volume and complexity. As a result of the need to protect sensitive data, the hybrid Cloud model has become the favoured approach. It offers the best of both worlds in terms of agility and value, while still enabling organisations to maintain control of their sensitive data on the premises.
Tackling the hybrid challenge
Whether organisations make use of public or private Cloud in addition to their on-premise solutions, getting the combination correct can be a daunting task. Effectively leveraging the benefits of enhanced agility and reduced capital expenditure requires that the hybrid solution be implemented effectively. The decision as to what to maintain on the premises and what to migrate into the Cloud must be handled systematically and driven by insights based on the right data. If this is not accomplished, the cost and complexity of the implementation will be increased. Data-driven insight is essential to help organisations better understand which workloads and applications will be most appropriate for public or private Cloud, or for on-premise hosting. This is the crux of a successful hybrid Cloud deployment.
The benefits of the hybrid model
Privately hosted infrastructure on the premises reduces the use of public Internet, which results in decreased latency compare to public cloud services. However, public Cloud offerings allow organisations to access greater computational power and storage infrastructure for processing data, which is ideal for larger workloads that require higher availability or more speed. The hybrid model enables organisations to leverage the best of both worlds.
The hybrid model also enables organisations to offer employees greater collaboration ability, by allowing teams to easily and securely share files. Remote workers can be integrated into core business processes through the Cloud, including functions such as internal messaging, scheduling and edge protection, as well as business intelligence and analytics.
The key to successful hybrid deployment
The benefits of the hybrid approach are clear, however it is often difficult for CIOs and CTOs to know where to begin with the deployment. Hybrid deployments must deliver deep integration to ensure compatibility between Cloud and on-premise infrastructure. This requires an understanding of which workloads and applications are most appropriate for the Cloud, and which need to be maintained on-premise.
In addition, a single, integrated platform that offers an enterprise-wide view of data across the various infrastructures, is an essential tool. This platform ensures that data processing can be more effectively controlled and that cost savings can be maximised by understanding spend in relation to the value that data offers the business.
Handling the shift from Capex to Opex
While the Cloud promises cost savings, many organisations have found that the expected returns fail to be realised. This is often due to a lack of controls to track and manage the utilisation of Cloud services, which results in unexpectedly large bills. Organisations need to make the shift from a Capex model, where the cost is heaviest up front, to a subscription model that is based on usage in what should be a predictable Opex model. However, workloads are often left running even when they are complete, resulting in additional virtual machines that must be paid for unnecessarily. Tackling this concern requires an effective data and information management strategy to allow for workloads to be more effectively managed and controlled. The workload must also be tracked between on-premise and cloud infrastructures to ensure it does not get lost along the way.
The value of data
While organisations are generating and storing more data than ever before, this data is only of use if some sort of value can be derived from it, whether it is hosted on the premises or in the Cloud. Hybrid cloud solutions enable organisations to develop greater intelligence and insight around both structured and unstructured data. Furthermore, benefits such as improved storage utilisation and budget optimisation will enable organisations to develop greater flexibility and agility. This in turn will enable the pursuit of new opportunities for business growth.
Allen Mitchell is a Cloud Consultant at Commvault Cloud Solutions Group EMEA.