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Hybrid cloud can put companies into the jet stream of Digital Transformation

Hybrid cloud can put companies into the jet stream of Digital Transformation

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Simon Michie, CTO, Pulsant, discusses how he thinks hybrid is set to underpin Digital Transformation initiatives and enable organisations to benefit from huge gains in performance and profitability.

Hybrid cloud was once only seen as a half-way house on the road to full deployment with the major hyperscalers. Now, however, it is increasingly regarded as a destination that if properly managed, provides a platform for Digital Transformation.

Many organisations with a wide range of data types and applications are attracted to hybrid’s flexibility. Instead of consigning every workload to a third-party data centre, these organisations want to retain their most sensitive information on-premises in or in a private cloud. They may have specific data sovereignty concerns or rely on applications that cannot work on public cloud operating systems. Refactoring applications is lengthy and expensive and often more cost and trouble than it’s worth.

A hybrid cloud strategy allows businesses to place data and applications where they work best, whether on-premises, in private cloud colocation data centres or with cloud providers, including hyperscalers. They can accelerate their use of newer, revenue-generating applications born in the cloud, retaining business-critical applications on-premises. Businesses can use applications specific to individual vendors without fear of being locked-in or compelled to comply with vendor-mandated changes in technology.

This flexibility and freedom is why analysts at Gartner estimate three-quarters of medium-sized or large companies have already adopted a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy. Market intelligence firms agree hybrid will continue to grow rapidly. MarketsandMarkets, for example, predicts demand for hybrid cloud will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 17% into next year (2023).

Increasingly complex hybrid infrastructure needs careful management

Yet as organisations expand their adoption of hybrid cloud, its complexity can make achieving effective management more difficult. Companies easily lose sight of their data and workloads and are unable to keep an eye on costs accumulating through complicated fee structures. In the Thales 2021 Data Threat Report, for example, only 24% of organisations responding said they had complete knowledge of where their data is stored.

It is too easy for enterprises to misjudge charges they might incur such as data egress fees. Traditional direct connectivity can rack up the costs quickly due to long-term contracts and static bandwidth fees based on maximum throughput.

Right-sizing can be difficult

As they struggle to keep track of their data and applications, organisations find right-sizing cloud deployments for maximum efficiency is tough, especially where IT teams lack experience. Companies often misalign traditional workloads in the cloud using a ‘lift-and-shift’ method. And after spinning up extra cloud capacity for a specific need, it is all too easy for it to remain longer than required, incurring unnecessary costs.

With the emergence of Edge Computing, these potential visibility and management problems could multiply in the absence of effective management. Edge Computing should remove the disadvantages of location, shifting data and workloads to regional data centres, closer to where businesses want to use them, delivering faster, low latency responses. This enables advanced analytics, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT). But companies may fear that if they add Edge to a hybrid cloud deployment it will exacerbate cost-control problems.

New tools make hybrid management easy and prepare for the Edge

Now, however, enterprises can more easily optimise their hybrid cloud environments. It helps hugely if they plan a hybrid strategy, preferably in partnership with third-party experts. An optimised cloud purchasing strategy ought to align to a cloud adoption and transformation framework. This should include the key principles of discover, plan, implement and decommission.

But organisations can also avail themselves of tools that address the complications of hybrid cloud management and are built with Edge in mind.

The hyperscale cloud providers already provide their own tools for hybrid cloud management, such as Google Anthos. This is a significant development, given their intense competition. Yet, it is questionable how truly vendor-agnostic such platforms are. And their involvement in Edge Computing is in its infancy, which limits their effectiveness.

Organisations will do better to deploy a next-generation cloud management platform that encompasses Edge, ready for what is set to be the next major infrastructure development. This will enable them to optimise their current cloud deployments and connectivity expanding their use of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS applications.

Such tools offer a ‘single pane of glass’ across the entirety of a company’s hybrid infrastructure, enabling them to optimise costs and performance wherever their assets are. They can see their monthly expenditure, with invoices available by resource-type. These more advanced tools assess cloud workloads and provide comprehensive asset discovery, usage reporting and dependence-mapping.

The benefits are significant. Businesses obtain a consistent, all-round view of their deployments and the details of their cost, enabling them to shift and adapt workloads for maximum operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Each application is visible, as is real-time usage of cloud resources. Analytical capabilities give companies insight into their patterns of usage that enable them to improve efficiency on a continuing basis.

Hybrid will underpin Digital Transformation

With a single pane of glass management tool in front of them, companies take near-complete control of hybrid and Edge infrastructure on a day-to-day basis, mastering challenges and adapting to opportunities more rapidly. This gives them the resource-flexibility to achieve high levels of organisational agility. They can spin workloads up and down in relation to demand, avoiding the dangers of over-spend without risk of being under-resourced when faced with new demand. And of course, they can adopt the data-hungry, AI-powered, transformational technologies and applications made possible by Edge Computing.

With infrastructure becoming more complex by the day, every organisation must obtain maximum value from its hybrid environments. The advent of a new generation of cloud management platforms means every organisation with hybrid and Edge architecture can operate close to its configured performance limit without jeopardising the performance of its applications. The loss of control and agility that many organisations rightly fear, can instead be consigned to history. Far from using it as a staging post to the public cloud, companies can employ the hybrid approach for major Digital Transformation initiatives that yield huge gains in performance and profitability.

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