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The 5 Decisions to Make Before Building a Hybrid Cloud

Most organizations already operate in a variety of clouds—public and private. (Hybrid cloud adoption grew 3x from 2016 to 2017, and more than 80% of organizations are operating in some kind of hybrid scenario). But now as we stare down advancements in AI, IoT, and machine learning, hybrid cloud adoption is accelerating, strategies are shifting, and many IT organizations are raising their hands and saying, “not quite ready.”

Today’s struggle is creating an effective hybrid cloud strategy for a more functional, future-ready infrastructure, and making the datacenter modernization decisions that will support new technology.

So, where do you start?

First things first

Before we decide where we’re going, let’s look at where we are. The very first step in moving forward with an evolved hybrid cloud strategy is asking questions about your current infrastructure. Identify all locations where you have infrastructure, services, and data. Then begin asking questions like:

  • What infrastructure and staff resources do we have in each location?
  • What percentage of the infrastructure is traditional/siloed? Virtualized? Private cloud?
  • What parts of the business rely on this location?
  • Why are we using the cloud providers we have now?
  • Why is x workload running in x location?

…and so on. (For a complete list of questions you should ask yourself, head here.)

See the future

After you’ve assessed your current situation, you’ll want to take a look at future needs. What new apps and services are due to come online in the coming year? Any planned changes for key infrastructure components like hypervisors? What new business or tech initiatives are you planning when it comes to big data, IoT, or DevOps? What additional resources will new workloads require?

Once you’ve assessed your situation and established some high-level hybrid cloud goals, you’ll have these 5 key decisions to make:

Decision 1: Choosing Your Cloud Operating Framework

This is the first and most important decision you’ll make. Don’t back into this one—make it up front! You’ll need a cloud OS that lets you monitor, manage, and orchestrate across all environments with a single set of tools while enabling users to work easily in any environment. Determine the pieces your cloud OS will need to encompass including support for on-premise, public, and CSP’s, mode 1 and mode 2 apps, VMs or containers, etc. This will prep you to properly consider your best cloud operating framework option.

Decision 2: Determining your on-premises modernization strategy

By 2021 it’s predicted that enterprises will run on-premises and in the cloud with about a 50/50 split. With that in mind, on-premise needs can’t be ignored even while we have our heads in the clouds. Your critical capability list will include elements like software-defined, hyperconverged, ease of automation, self-service enabled, data protection/disaster recovery ready, and distributed and edge capable.

Decision 3: Choosing specific cloud environments for your hybrid cloud

The main goal here? Pick cloud providers that align ideally with the decisions you’ve already made up to this point, and choose them based on compatibility. This will equate to a more seamless integration between environments, and allow developers to use resources in your hybrid cloud without extensive retooling. Establish relationships with cloud providers even if your need for them isn’t immediate (which will save you time down the road).

Decision 4: Deciding which apps and services run on which cloud

Decisions on where to place certain workloads with certain CSPs will depend on things like price, elasticity, security and compliance requirements, and unique application needs. When it comes to public cloud, there are a handful of widely-used options that offer a compelling range of infrastructure and service choices. The key here is to select public clouds that work optimally with your chosen cloud operating environment and complement your app environment. (As an example, Microsoft Azure might make more sense for enterprises invested in Microsoft than enterprises running Linux). Consider also the levels of customization, service, and support that CSPs provide.

Decision 5: Making a shortlist of SaaS providers

This decision is lower priority than datacenter modernization and selection of CSPs and public clouds, but it’s worth thinking through SaaS considerations at this point. Standardize the set of SaaS providers you’ll use as best you can—and try to avoid having similar services from multiple providers. (A good example is looking at all the internal messaging services you’re utilizing — do you really need Slack, Jabber, AND Jive?) Think about the possibility of outsourcing some apps you’re running on-prem today to SaaS providers to free up staff and infrastructure. Also, don’t forget about the data being stored by SaaS providers and make sure that regulatory and data protection req’s are being met.

In this post we’ve just barely scratched the surface of the decisions and assessments you’ll want to make while enacting an incredibly effective hybrid cloud strategy. For a comprehensive, easy-to-digest guide, read the O’Reilly eBook Designing and Building a Hybrid Cloud, and learn how to deliver automation, visibility, and management consistency in our brave, new, multi-cloud world.

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