Article

Hybrid cloud – What Does It Mean Today?

Hybrid cloud continues to be the buzzword used when someone discusses changing the IT service delivery model from a builder to a broker of services. With so much evolution in the space, the question I personally ask every time we go into a client engagement is “What does hybrid cloud mean today?” And more importantly, “How will this cloud service this business?”

Hybrid cloud fundamentals

For the most part, the core of hybrid cloud can still be described in the same way; with the idea being that you have a cloud-computing environment that can provision workloads to on-premises or publicly provided infrastructure and services.

Whether public or private, you'll decide where to run your workloads.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) continues to be at the core for most of our clients and is generally where we set the stage for the hybrid cloud platform. Windows and Linux operating systems are constantly requested from IT and this is an easy way to show quick wins (provision servers to your customers within hours as opposed to weeks). It also sets the foundation and skill sets required before moving onto more advanced services.

While the fundamental building blocks of hybrid cloud – on-premises and public infrastructure – have remained stable, there are many other components of a hybrid cloud that alter both our definition of what a hybrid cloud is and our approach to successfully implementing one.

Public cloud continues to expand and be adopted

As enterprises mature their cloud and enable IaaS across multiple targets, the decision of which public cloud vendor to choose becomes more complex and strategic. Do you really need to choose one with all the (free) vendor credits that you may have bundled into ELAs already? Having options is a good thing as long as they can be easily managed and executed upon. It is important to set up your IaaS platform to be able to use these targets with appropriate controls and provide costs up front. Intelligent decision-making for public cloud consumption will be key to driving good business value.

In addition to simply consuming IaaS services via public cloud providers, there are also a growing number of platform services being offered which can be utilized. Should I combine my IaaS services with PaaS services, or does that lock me into a public cloud vendor? Should I move workloads that are running on my internal infrastructure today into the public, or is it better just to leave them where they are?

Build and manage services

Rather than thinking of building individual servers, it is better to start thinking about building and managing services that can be deployed to various locations based on policies. At the core of this remains a commitment to investing in automation, orchestration, and configuration management.

Automation workflows need to exist to ensure that there are as few manual steps in the provisioning process as possible, eliminating room for human error and increasing completion times. You won’t get the benefits of fast provisioning if you still have to send a ticket off to a team to enable monitoring.

Maybe you provisioned a service in AWS, but still need to update the CMDB? Having a process for developing the integrations outside the VMs, and also having a process for layering various configurations into the machines is essential.

So what does hybrid cloud really mean today?

As you can tell by now, the definition is constantly changing and it’s very hard to give a specific answer because so much is dependent on your own environment. What hybrid cloud means for the business, though, is still a combination of a service catalog, with a high degree of automation, that can target your own on-premises data center or one of the many cloud providers now available. It also means having both flexibility and speed while improving and maintaining the quality of services deployed. Finally, it has to be tailored to your business.

At AHEAD, we are constantly evaluating cloud management platforms, automation and orchestration tools, and public cloud vendors to create integrations that work for your business. This is by no means the end of the conversation. Truly looking at hybrid cloud in terms of the private and public infrastructure, as well as services available, is key to building a cloud that is meaningful to your business. It’s an evolution, and one with a lot of choice! We can show you what we’ve found and implemented in our Hybrid Cloud, Automation and Orchestration briefing at the AHEAD Lab and Briefing Center. Get a preview of this briefing in the video below:

Learn more about the AHEAD Lab and Briefing Center, as well as how to build your Hybrid Cloud, Automation, and Orchestration briefing today.