Bruce Kelley, CTO and SVP at NETSCOUT explains how organizations can implement successful hybrid cloud.
Hybrid cloud strategies are popular with businesses – and for good reason, as they enable a level of flexibility that is not otherwise possible to achieve. Organisations are not static, and strategies such as these mean that businesses can shift workloads, applications and services across private clouds, on-premise data centres, and public clouds as needed. With such clear benefits, it is no surprise that Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud Report revealed that 92 per cent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy and 82 per cent have a hybrid cloud strategy.
However, implementing a successful hybrid cloud strategy is not always a simple switch. What may work for one company won’t necessarily work for another, so it cannot be approached as a one size fits all solution. Indeed, if not correctly implemented, hybrid cloud strategies can quickly become complex and cause more problems than they solve.
A comprehensive strategy
To avoid potential complications, IT teams must assess the specific needs of their company and understand which workloads should be moved onto which systems. For example, core legacy functions are too high-risk to be moved off-premises, but other functions could be moved entirely. By taking the time to evaluate their company’s specific requirements, IT teams can develop a comprehensive approach that ensures the correct workloads are moved to the cloud and that the mixture of on-premises, private-cloud and public-cloud is well balanced.
Another big question is when to move the applications – as it makes little sense to move critical applications in the middle of the day when they are being relied upon for the business to run correctly. Again, this differs between organisations, as some may rely more heavily on different tools at different times of day. Taking the time to consider these decisions before initiating the process will make the entire transition much smoother.
Ensure consistent visibility
An important aspect of this comprehensive approach is ensuring consistent visibility. Throughout the migration process – and beyond, as the business adjusts to new systems and protocols – IT teams must ensure there are no gaps in visibility. But this can be easier said than done. Before services are migrated to the cloud they will likely have been stored centrally where IT teams ‘own’ them and have clear visibility into all actions. As service components are moved to the cloud, that ‘ownership’ begins to be transferred to the third-party providers. This applies across hybrid cloud strategies as well as the public cloud; it is vital to retain visibility across network borders in order to holistically assess the customer experience.
That said, things are not as complex as they may seem at a first glance. Organisations must shift their mindset from traditional methods of monitoring datasets to new approaches – and, while this can take some initial work upfront, it is worth the effort for the many benefits that a hybrid cloud approach can deliver. Ultimately, the business’s internal IT team is still responsible for managing data visibility, but the approach must change to accommodate the multiple IT domains and external third parties that come with using cloud platforms.
Traditionally, IT teams would use systems such as Application Performance Management agents, but these methods don’t provide enough visibility for complete datasets to be created. Instead, the monitoring system needs to leverage underlying packet data at every stage of the network for ‘end-through-end’ visibility. This complete dataset will correlate across systems both on and off premises. By implementing these new network-monitoring systems, businesses can ensure that they have full, continuous visibility of the customer experience.
Ultimately, an approach like this makes it easier to monitor the hybrid network. A comprehensive monitoring system that provides full visibility will allow IT teams to spot vulnerabilities in the network, which in turn enables more effective monitoring of network performance.
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Focus on the end-user
It is just as important that businesses consider how the end-user experience might be impacted by these changes, and take measures to ensure minimal disruption. Despite the inevitable disruption that comes with any transformation, it is important that the end-user experience remains satisfactory before, during and after the workload migration process.
By taking the time to evaluate all outcomes, organisations transitioning to a hybrid cloud strategy can proactively avoid many potential obstacles. More specifically, a complete dataset gleaning insights into the end-user experience and infrastructure visibility makes the journey to a hybrid cloud strategy smoother, enabling businesses to reap the many rewards sooner.