Although their motivations are different, companies of all sizes—and across industries—are adopting hybrid cloud approaches.
Firms with massive on-premises infrastructure, especially in finance, often introduce cloud infrastructure because they need to modernize for customer experience while complying with strict security and privacy regulations. (Also read: Data Breach Notification: The Legal and Regulatory Environment.)
But we have also seen large enterprises, mature in their cloud adoption, elect to move a portion of their workloads back into colocation facilities or owned data centers—adopting a hybrid cloud strategy—to reduce costs and gain control.
Regardless of how they got there, companies can leverage the hybrid cloud to manage applications and data in the most cost-effective and best-performing manner possible in the face of dynamic service conditions and demanding business requirements.
That said, many companies struggle to manage the complexity of hybrid network infrastructure. This prevents them from optimizing network performance, which can be detrimental. The key to overcoming this challenge is not simplifying infrastructure; it’s finding ways to manage the complexity more effectively.
So, IT teams should consider these three critical aspects of effective hybrid cloud management:
1. Infrastructure Resource Modeling
Enterprises can only manage what they know they have; and manual inventory methods can’t keep up with the scale of modern cloud infrastructure.
Many companies can’t maintain a complete inventory of what they own; and they can only make assumptions about the impact of new implementations on network capacity and performance. Some companies use cost to assess what they have—or to indicate when they need to adjust or reallocate resources—but this approach is ineffective and leads to wasteful spending.
Instead, companies can use resource modeling and discovery tools to deploy better networks and build in efficiencies from the start. Understanding their resources and network needs can create better deployment policies and build in automation. They can also preemptively make stronger plans for network changes and upgrades to ensure the best user experiences while keeping costs in check. This will result in higher-quality experiences, fewer support tickets and network issues and improved team productivity. (Also read: The Top 6 Ways AI Is Improving Business Productivity in 2021.)
Resource modeling will help operations teams understand what services, infrastructure resources and devices they have, where they are located, what coverage each one has and how they are connected. With this complete set of information—a single source of truth— eams can predict the full impact of every infrastructure change, leading to more confident decision-making, better optimization and easier detection of anomalies.
2. Traffic Management and Automation
Hybrid cloud often incorporates a mix of widely distributed private data centers, public clouds and edge networks, which support users’ interactions with a company’s products and services across various devices (e.g., desktop browsers, IoT devices, and mobile devices).
This is where the hybrid cloud’s complexity becomes the most significant challenge. To link all these devices and access points seamlessly—and to do so in a cost-effective manner—companies need to integrate an ever-growing list of systems and services with modern traffic management and automation strategy. Without that integration, directing application traffic across different clouds and data centers, or routing users efficiently to the correct endpoints, are insurmountable tasks. With it, users gain a seamless experience accessing products and services—no matter what device they’re using or where they’re located.
Application traffic management helps lower costs as well. Teams can implement intelligent traffic-steering strategies to dynamically direct cloud and on-premise workloads to the most cost-efficient resources for additional savings.
Traffic steering can also be a valuable tool in guarding against over-provisioning, which can drive up expenses, or under-provisioning, which will impact performance and potentially the customer experience.
Finally, automating traffic can help with the rollout of new infrastructure. Traffic can be gradually introduced to new infrastructure as it comes online to allow time to work out bugs and issues. Overall, these strategies give companies greater control over outcomes and cost, reduce risk, consistently deliver on promises to customers, and instill confidence in technology investments. (Also read: The Top 6 Ways AI Is Improving Business Productivity in 2021.)
3. Network Observability
Companies that rely on the hybrid cloud need to analyze, learn from and respond to the plethora of data traversing their networks and application services. This data can—and should—be used to make better decisions. It is essentially “big data” value for networks; and it is essential for operations, capacity planning and security as well as for long-term growth.
An emerging and effective trend is distributed network observability: pushing analysis as close to the data source as possible. Tapping into network data streams and analyzing them in real-time can provide immediate business insight, help debug problems and identify security weaknesses—all leading to improved mean time to resolution. (Also read: 10 Myths About Multi-Cloud Data Management.)
Preparing for Success with Hybrid Cloud
Despite hybrid cloud’s challenges, companies can implement a few strategies to manage its complexity more easily.
Resource modeling gives companies a better sense of their infrastructure on-premises and in the cloud, enabling them to proactively build efficiencies and automation from the outset to assess risk more accurately and make better-informed decisions. Traffic management and automation improve performance, reduce risk and facilitate cost reductions. Finally, observability tools help companies assess their network operations and set goals for the future.
The result is improved performance, fewer issues and support tickets and more efficient network operations.