Cloud computing has transformed the way many organisations and businesses operate.
Widespread adoption of cloud solutions has led to a shift from on-premise to cloud delivery models.
However, organisations that haven’t yet shifted their applications or data storage to the cloud may be wondering what their best solution might be.
Two of the significant benefits of cloud are the cost savings and efficiency gains it can deliver.
However, the age-old question of on-premise versus cloud ICT environments remains a crucial consideration, and there’s no single correct answer.
Both approaches offer their own unique advantages, but there is a way to get the best of both worlds by aligning on-premise ICT with cloud to create a hybrid solution.
Here, we look at the advantages and what you need to do to make it a success…
What is a hybrid cloud platform?
Hybrid cloud is the name given to an ICT environment that combines on-premise infrastructure, private cloud services, and public cloud – such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS) – with orchestration across the different platforms.
While cloud services help drive cost efficiencies, their main benefit is supporting and enabling an organisation’s digital transformation.
Combining public and private cloud service with on-premise resources can give your organisation the agility it needs to remain competitive, productive and efficient.
It will also help you adapt or change direction quickly as your organisation develops without making costly investments in new hardware and physical infrastructure every time you need to pivot.
What are the advantages of using a hybrid cloud?
Hybrid cloud offers several benefits to larger organisations.
Firstly, it gives organisations the flexibility to support their remote staff with on-demand data access that isn’t tied to one location.
This allows the flexibility to move a service to where its best suited to reside, based on the required features and cost profile for that service. This is crucial for optimising efficiency or productivity.
For example, something that needs to be globally available isn’t best suited to being delivered from a pair of UK data centres. One the other hand, something that requires a lot of servers and in cloud would result in high rental costs might be better delivered on premise.
Hybrid cloud can also deliver significant cost savings to your organisation when compared to on-premise ICT infrastructure.
If you opt for all cloud, you’ll pay cloud pricing for everything. If you go for all on-premise, you’ll pay hardware and maintenance costs for everything. But, when you opt for both, and possibly multi-cloud too, you can piece together a service that delivers the required performance at minimum cost.
It’s an excellent option for organisations that require greater control of their data and enhanced security, but need to scale their operations to meet spikes in demand in a cost-effective way.
It can unlock potential cost savings by allowing organisations to store sensitive data on their private, on-premise servers and offloading less sensitive data and fewer applications to the public cloud.
When demand peaks, cloud capacity can be expanded according to need, so you pay only for the resources you use, and these can scale back down quickly when demand eases.
As well as more control over costs, hybrid cloud also gives organisations greater control over their data. Workloads and resources can be scaled up or down to meet demand.
Hybrid cloud also enables increased automation, so you can automatically adjust processes and policies in line with demand to optimise efficiency and performance.
Hybrid cloud helps improve business continuity and reduce potential downtime and disruption.
It helps organisations back-up critical data by replicating it in the cloud and ensures scalability when demand spikes without over-burdening private servers and causing further slowdowns.
Cloud can be backed up on premise and on-premise in the cloud. Similarly, having on-premise allows you to move data from one cloud environment (Azure) to another (AWS). It also allows you to run highly available services with one instance of the service in cloud and another on-premise, removing the dependency on your on-premise infrastructure but also the dependency on Azure or AWS.
And it gives organisations greater security and more control over their critical data. It’s also easier to implement more robust security measures in hybrid cloud, such as encryption, automation, access control, orchestration and endpoint security, to manage your risks more effectively.
How do I align my cloud and on-premise datacentres?
Regardless of the size of your organisation, migrating to the cloud can be a huge undertaking. However, the benefits it can bring can far outweigh any of the drawbacks.
Although the concept of cloud migration is relatively simple to understand, there are many nuances to consider which will have a significant bearing on the success of your project.
There are several cloud options available, including public, private, hybrid or community cloud. You should base the solution you go for on your ICT strategy and architecture requirements.
However, if you are looking to align your cloud with your on-premise environment, there are a few things to consider, including:
Is your organisation ready, and does it understand how to make the most of switching to cloud-based services?
The great thing about cloud is it isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’. In fact, it’s so flexible that you can tailor a solution to your exact requirements. So, you should develop a cohesive and consistent approach to ensure your cloud deployment can interact with your legacy on-premise systems and manage information risk across the entire ICT delivery chain.
It’s essential to evaluate your data and services and understand any legislative or regulatory requirements that can impact how or where the services can be provided, and the data can be hosted.
Also, does your proposed cloud solution meet your requirements for compliance, security, SLAs, features and licensing?
As part of your alignment strategy, you should determine the appropriate security requirements for the data or services you want to move to the cloud.
Most large organisations keep an on-premise element to continue connecting the LAN, WLAN and WAN environments together and also maintain some security elements. These aren’t as obviously migratable to cloud, and so are likely for most organisations are likely to remain. This can have a knock-on effect as you would not want to lose manageability of your on-premise infrastructure if you lost a connection to cloud. So, you could end up with a stub environment on-premise whatever happens, unless you’re a new-wave organisation with no existing on-premise investment.
It’s important to assign and document responsibility splits to ensure all parties are aware of where the responsibility lies for each of the critical elements of your cloud deployment, delivery and operations. It’s crucial to determine which responsibilities your organisation wants to retain and who ‘owns’ them.
As with any significant investment, it’s crucial you do your homework and do proper due diligence to evaluate the service provider based on the metrics that matter most to your organisation.
These might include their financial stability, independent assurance or accreditation, ethical values or other indicators. As part of your due diligence checks, it’s also essential to evaluate the cloud vendor’s service terms and service level agreements at the outset.
Understanding your existing IT estate both in cloud and on-premise is crucial, as it will affect what options are open to you. For example, if you have a VMware based on-premise environment, it’s highly likely to affect your decisions around what to utilise in cloud and the choice of a management platform. Similarly, the storage you use on premise may well affect what you choose to do in the cloud.
Being accountable for your decision to migrate is key. If your data and services were to be compromised, would you be comfortable that the process you used to decide where and how to best host your information assets can be justified?
If not, which steps of the process might you need to revisit and adjust, to ensure you’re comfortable with being accountable for the decision?
Once you’ve carried out the above steps, you’ll be able to make an informed and justifiable decision to proceed with your proposed solution based on balancing the risks with the expected benefits.
If you enjoyed this blog and want to learn more about how we can help your organisation develop an effective cloud strategy and achieve improvement through technology, give us a call on 01332 322588.
And if you would like to stay up to date with the latest news, views and insight on everything going on in the ICT and technology sector, subscribe to our FREE email newsletter.