Friday, 4th December 2020

Hybrid cloud adoption: Getting migration ready

Hybrid cloud is a popular solution among enterprise grade businesses, but it is not a one size fits all solution. The building blocks of this model are complex and potentially costly to manage. This article will examine the core challenges and provide a blueprint to enable decision makers and IT leaders better manage the challenges they will likely face. By Ian Sheen, Technical Lead - Strategy and Transformation, Telstra Purple.

The Challenges

Workload destinations and migration

Workloads differ across companies, teams and employees. Taking a holistic view of each critical workloads supported by a hybrid solution is paramount to building a solid network structure. Map out each of the end needs and work backwards from there, to ensure the system works clearly and effectively for all.

Skill and expertise

Securing the right talent will enable organisations to take full advantage of Hybrid Cloud and continually adapt to the innovations taking place within the cloud environment. The pace of innovation within cloud architecture is lightning quick, requiring time, money and an agile mindset to keep up with these new technologies. This is further exacerbated when migrating to Hybrid Cloud, as public and private cloud require different expertise and skills, with prospective employees being in high demand.

Security and compliance

Compliance is not a one-off activity; it needs continuous oversight to ensure industry-specific standards, government policies and internal protocols. The factors are not constant so neither should be the approach to Hybrid Cloud.

It’s crucial to identify and seek or hire expert advice, to guarantee compliance within the various policies and protocols without impacting the agility and flexibility of a Hybrid Cloud platform.

Network performance

Businesses that have not prepared their networks to handle the migration to Digital and Cloud will likely experience unreliable connections. Cloud solutions are network intensive, so it is vital that businesses plan adequately when preparing for migration. Failure to do so will result in an unstable and inflexible network that is unable to keep up with the cloud solution.

Data fragmentation and governance

Hybrid Cloud utilises multiple cloud networks which in turn disperse data across numerous environments across different regions. In doing so, data is siloed, scattered and copied all over the place, which can lead to an incomplete view and an inability to extract real value from it. This results in data being fragmented, reducing performance and impacting capacity due to inefficient use.

It is important for enterprises to have a robust data strategy that compensates for fragmentation and ensures full visibility of the data, wherever it sits in the organisation. Organisations that are unsure of where their data is or how to access it risk compliance issues, eroding the advantages of Hybrid Cloud.

Hybrid Cloud adoption blueprint

Preparing for migration

Preparation and planning are key to a successful Hybrid Cloud migration strategy. Business leaders should first address the following questions when building their strategy:

· How do I protect my data? How do I connect to the cloud so that my data is safe?

· What are the implications and impact to my processes and users by moving to the cloud?

· Where should my data and each of my applications reside?

· How does my solution scale?

· Which workloads should be serviced by SaaS?

For many organisations, these questions boil down to whether the migration is being completed in-house or being outsourced. For in-house options, businesses must ensure they have the capabilities and skills within their teams, and that they can afford to have those individuals be taken away from their day-to-day activities. If an organisation chooses to outsource, they must be diligent in seeking out experts who understand their business and have access to the right experience. This will ensure providers offer the right solutions and manage the transformation process successfully.

Making the network hybrid ready

Building a robust network to handle the increased workload without sacrificing connectivity is vital. Software-defined networking is well-suited for this, and offers the requisite foundation for a network hosting hybrid cloud solutions.

Software-defined networking offers enterprise-grade connectivity through an on-demand model that is as agile as the cloud. The building blocks offered by this method can be combined and deployed virtually to deliver robust, high-capacity connectivity to cloud and data centre locations

globally. The ‘pay as you use’ commercial model enables great flexibility and a virtual eco-system that can respond to changing needs, daily or hourly if required.

Improving governance, performance and security

Visibility of cloud usage and application performance across the business is vital to reducing risk, while still powering agility and innovation. IT teams can provide the right IaaS to achieve this, if they are supported by the right architecture and services, as well as flexible and secure networking. This will ease monthly planning and security management, whilst assisting in the analysis of cost trends.

For outsourcing models, a fully managed service can take care of governance and compliance, including essential security activities. This approach reduces the burden of day-to-day management whilst boosting assured performance and service availability through monitoring and maintenance. The best managed solutions will have strong automation elements to simplify common tasks and ensure compliance scales as easily and quickly as the cloud does.

Understanding your applications and service flows

Business functions often comprise multiple applications and flows. A key element of any future cloud strategy is understanding the interdependencies between them, as these will become more complex in the hybrid world. Components that used to reside in a common control plain within a private enterprise can be straddled across multiple tiers in a hybrid architecture.

Communication flows can become more complex, so an enterprise is best served by understanding the big picture before introducing the new layers of control that a Hybrid model dictates.

Maximising your data agility

Data powers innovation, businesses and decision makers, marking it as highly valuable intellectual property for organisations. However, issues arise when storage limits are reached and when moving data from one location (or provider) to another. These are complex tasks that increase the chances of data leaks if not managed and provisioned for appropriately.

Visibility is key to ensure access and security of our data across multiple cloud environments. By locating centralised data storage near major cloud services and linking them with high-speed connections, businesses will benefit from high performance and low latency while keeping their data in secured facilities. Additionally, it provides increased flexibility by letting enterprises migrate data between different storage levels without impacting performance.

Final word

Hybrid Cloud continues to be a popular choice among enterprises, with its ability to offer high performance, flexibility and agility in a constantly evolving environment. As a result, user expectations, business requirements and data regulation will only become more complex, which in turn will lead to more challenges and pitfalls when approaching hybrid solutions.

In summary, there is no one-size-fits-all model of cloud for businesses. There are nuances and restrictions that affect everyone differently. However, there are strong and adaptable models that can be quickly and efficiently adapted to fit individual needs – but it is vital to fully understand what those needs are and where they sit within the business. Set realistic targets and deadlines and invest in the right technology and solutions. Business and ways of working are no longer rigid; the technology use, just like the strategy one employs, must be flexible, agile and scalable. It is vital organisations plan to ensure they have the right skills, expertise and architectures in place to avoid potential challenges and get the most out of their cloud deployment.

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