Gartner recently stated that “organizations will continue to aggressively build and invest in ‘cloud-first’ strategies and architectures.” Much of this comes from the advancements and innovations in cloud services. Applications and solutions that were once a poor fit for the cloud are now finding their way into the “as a service” space. However, just because an application or solution is cloud capable doesn’t mean it is right for you.
In order to work toward success, you have to design a hybrid cloud strategy that meets your organization’s needs and fits within your budget.
Defining the Right “Hybrid Cloud”
When people think of a cloud-first strategy, they often confuse it with relying on the cloud—and the public cloud, at that. Adopting this way of thinking puts your cloud strategy at serious risk. Certain things shouldn’t live in the cloud. For many companies, data centers need to remain on premises. Confidential and private data cannot be stored on the public cloud so a private cloud makes sense.The applications that use this data, however, can run in the public cloud as long as the traffic is encrypted. Determining what is right for your business is a bit tougher than it seems.
What Applications Belong in the Cloud?
Deciding which applications to move to the cloud and which ones to keep on premises is the key to a successful hybrid cloud strategy. However, providing a specific checklist of applications that belong in either place is difficult. For each organization, the answers are different.
The best way to determine what belongs in the cloud is to weight cost and security/control considerations.
Cost savings are usually one of the main reasons a company chooses moves to the cloud. It makes sense as there are a number of case studies and reports that support this. However, you have to look at where the cost savings come from in order to determine the best course of action.
Take retail, for example. The number of employees fluctuates throughout the year based on seasonal demand. It would make sense to run the applications that these temporary workers must access in the public cloud. Since on-demand licensing would require you to pay for the use, and not per seat for the entire year, you are going to gain savings.
On the other hand, once you start getting into the enterprise-level numbers, some vendors offer attractive licensing packages. You may find that, in these instances, buying a per seat subscription is actually less expensive than what your cloud solution would cost, so keeping the solution on premises makes more sense.
A detailed cost analysis provides you with the numbers necessary to make this decision, however, don’t do so without an in-depth conversation with your vendors. You may find that they are willing to negotiate better pricing models.
Security and Control Considerations
Cost may be the most attractive driver when it comes to decision-making, however, security and control will likely trump dollar amounts.
Laws and regulations lay out specific restrictions for where certain types of data are allowed to be stored and who is permitted to have access to them. These restrictions can determine which applications you can run in the cloud and which ones you must run on premises.
In addition to regulatory concerns, you have to consider availability. As part of the security triad, availability means that your applications run when you need them to. Hosting business-critical applications on premises may be detrimental if surges and bursts in processing needs surpass what the servers and infrastructure are capable of.
The flexibility of the cloud, on the other hand, allows for more scalability when it comes to computing power needs. This flexibility ensures availability and helps control costs when planned for properly.
Where to Turn for Help
No matter the size of your organization, planning a hybrid cloud strategy the right way can be difficult—especially if your IT department does not have experience in this area.
Turning to a trusted managed services provider (MSP) can help you better prepare your organization for a successful hybrid cloud implementation. The right partner will not only have the skills to help successfully plan and implement your cloud migration, but they will also have the expertise and experience.
A managed services provider will understand where potential problems may be and help you navigate your way through or around them. They will give you a realistic picture of the cost and security landscape when it comes to determining which applications are best suited for the cloud, and they can help you work with your vendors to secure any savings you may be missing.
Turning to a trusted partner when developing your hybrid cloud strategy makes sense. It not only aids in a successful implementation, but can continue to deliver a fully managed solution for the lifecycle of your project.