The right hybrid solution
Hybrid and multi-cloud deployments can seem like the perfect solution for many businesses, but there’s a lot to consider before migrating
The days when cloud was cutting edge IT are over; it’s settled into the IT mainstream. A 2020 study by O’Reilly found that 88% of organisations are now using cloud infrastructure in some form, while 45% expect to have moved over three quarters of their applications to the cloud within the next year.
Of course, while use of the hyper-scale cloud providers – Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure – grows exponentially, many businesses have still felt reluctant to move all their workloads to public cloud. Instead, they’ve looked towards multi-cloud approaches, or a hybrid strategy that combines the cost efficiencies and agility of public cloud with the tighter controls of on-premise architecture.
It’s not hard to understand why. As Gartner Senior Director Analyst, Santhosh Rao, has pointed out, “Multi-cloud computing lowers the risk of cloud provider lock-in, and can provide service resiliency and migration opportunities.” Rao has also pushed the benefits of hybrid cloud, adding that its mixture of public cloud and private cloud advantages makes it the modern IT standard. Other analysts agree. IDC predicts that, by 2022, 70% of enterprises will have deployed unified hybrid cloud and multicloud technologies.
But while this shift has been a success for many organisations, not all have seen the benefits expected. Unisys’ 2019 Cloud Success Barometer report shows that 30% of global companies moving applications to the cloud have found their expectations haven’t been met, with that figure rising to 37% in the UK. A 2019 study by IHS Markit found that of 350 companies surveyed, 74% had moved an application to the cloud only to shift it back to their own infrastructure.
The fact is that hybrid cloud and multi-cloud deployments come with challenges, and that the benefits of optimisation, scalability or speed to market aren’t necessarily just there for the taking. Organisations need to be aware of the challenges and of their own requirements going in, or risk having to reverse decisions down the line.
The challenges of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud
So, what risks or challenges should you be aware of before you migrate workloads to the hybrid cloud? Well, they chiefly come down to:
- Cost management: With public cloud, it’s all too easy to consume resources and waste IT budgets on VM instances or storage infrastructure that you don’t continue using – and all too difficult to predict your future needs, leading to oversized, over-priced solutions. To make things worse, hybrid clouds with different pricing models and deployment tools make it near-impossible to get an upfront idea of costs or make meaningful comparisons – or maintain control of them in the long-term.
- Performance: The performance impact of shifting workloads to the cloud can be unpredictable. Many applications have complex dependencies to contend with and bottlenecks to clear, and there are often challenges of orchestration in moving data between different on-premise and cloud architectures.
- Security: Up to a point, cloud security shouldn’t be a problem. Providers secure and update their own platforms or infrastructure, and the likes of Google, Amazon and Microsoft have access to security resources few businesses can rival. Yet there are still challenges in a multi-cloud environment, where there may be ambiguity over where the providers’ responsibilities end and their customers’ start, and where you may struggle to work across different architectures, tools and APIs.
- Compliance: Ensuring compliance is no picnic with on-premise infrastructure, and it’s even less so once you throw complex multi-cloud or hybrid environments into the mix. How can you audit and prove compliance across them all?
- Governance and management: Managing multi-cloud environments can be tough. Few organisations have all the relevant skills in-house and balancing the needs of security and performance with the desire for speed and flexibility is an art. Complexity adds to the challenge, with different tools, consoles and APIs in play. For many enterprises, this becomes a choice between missing out on key cloud benefits or maintaining control.
Finding the right hybrid cloud solutions
How, then, can you meet these challenges? Partly it’s a question of going in informed. Research, project management and testing can help you avoid basic mistakes, and you may find during the process that some workloads aren’t right for the cloud.
Another fundamental step is to think in detail about how your applications will run in the cloud. The basic lift and shift approach, where you virtualise workloads then move the virtual machines can work, but it’s not right for every application. What’s more, it can lead to a tendency to operate applications like you would on-premise, with everything designed to run at full tilt using all available capacity. This means you’re not making the most of the flexibility and scalability of cloud. The biggest advantage of hybrid cloud is that you can get each workload up and running on the cloud that best meets its needs.
However, the most practical and effective solution is to get the right management and optimisation tools in place. As we’ve covered, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud approaches add a layer of complexity, and tools provide your best weapon to strip that away. Tools can put you back in control, give you visibility across your clouds and provide meaningful data on security and costs. Tools can help you make strategic decisions, so that you allocate workloads to the most appropriate cloud and run them optimally. Most of all, tools can bring your different clouds together for management and monitoring, so that you no longer have to deal with an array of management applications and dashboards.
This is where tools like Quest’s Foglight Evolve come in. Foglight Evolve allows you to migrate workloads with a clear idea of how much running each one will cost on that specific cloud, and the cost-savings you can expect. With accurate estimates of all key migration metrics, you know you’re not going to get unpleasant surprises when the bills come through.
What’s more, you get performance metrics. Not only can you preview the anticipated impact on performance of moving an application to a specific cloud, but you get the tools to optimise workloads before migration, ensuring that they’ll run at the speeds your business demands. Foglight Evolve can highlight underutilised resources, and help you optimise your cloud provision so that you’re getting the best performance for the best price for every workload – and you’re not paying for unused ‘zombie’ instances.
And because Quest’s tools give you configuration-free monitoring and management across your cloud estate, complete with pre-configured rules, reports and dashboards, it becomes much easier to maintain visibility, monitor and control. It doesn’t matter if a workload’s using Azure or AWS, Hyper-V or VMware; one management tool gives you everything you need.
Armed with these tools, you’re equipped to reap the benefits of hybrid cloud and dodge many of the pitfalls, putting you in the right position to make your hybrid cloud solution work for you.
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