Hybrid IT delivers the right tools to address diverse workload needs
Today, more than ever, businesses are leveraging technology and data to drive business results. These IT workloads have diverse users and stakeholders and demand varying levels of security, reliability, performance, and scalability to meet business needs.
Balancing the disparate needs of workloads is a growing challenge for modern enterprises looking to optimize their IT environments and gain a competitive edge. Hybrid IT has become a staple to help enterprises achieve these results and deliver value. According to a recent Cisco report, 82% of IT leaders say that they have adopted a hybrid IT approach.
Hybrid IT allows enterprises to align various workloads with the most appropriate deployment models—whether on-premises, cloud, or colocation—to support growth, productivity, cost efficiency, security, performance, flexibility, scalability, and other business requirements.
The value of hybrid IT
To be truly effective, hybrid IT must move beyond implementing and connecting multiple environments to be a strategic venture. Many enterprises have unintentionally created hybrid IT landscapes by piecemealing individual solutions that do not holistically address their IT needs. This ad hoc approach to hybrid IT can introduce a series of inefficiencies, including technology silos, shadow IT, and workload redundancies, as well as creating visibility and governance issues that can undermine a security posture and create runaway expenses.
Creating a hybrid IT environment should be a deliberate, comprehensive initiative to position workloads in the most appropriate environment while minimizing the number of diverse environments as much as possible to support inefficiencies and avoid sprawl and high costs.
Organizations that are engaging in hybrid IT effectively are taking a strategic approach to workload placement and consolidating workloads into a handful of deployment models that best suit their technical requirements while balancing operational capabilities and business objectives.
This requires enterprises to understand and map the requirements of each workload with the competencies of a specific deployment model. The challenge is balancing the benefits of each IT environment with the needs of individual applications and data sets to maximize the intended results. For example, many enterprises rely on cloud platforms to support scalability requirements. However, cloud computing is not ideal for all workloads. Hybrid IT allows enterprises to weigh diverse options and place workloads in the most beneficial environment
Finding the right fit
To make informed, forward-looking decisions about a hybrid IT architecture, enterprises must gain visibility into their existing infrastructures to understand their issues, interdependencies, and requirements. Equipped with this insight, enterprises can begin to decipher the most appropriate mix of on-premises, public or private cloud, and colocation services by considering the relevance of the following factors.
As cyberattacks continue to escalate, keeping data secure is paramount. In a recent report, 89% of IT leaders said security is the most pressing business problem caused by unaccounted-for and unmanaged technology. While appropriate security and compliance controls can be built to accommodate any solution, the ways in which controls, compliance, and governance are applied will vary. The operational ability of an organization to appropriately implement, monitor, and maintain a security posture in different environments is a key factor in determining which workload placement models to leverage and how. Additionally, as organizations expand their IT infrastructures, they must also increasingly look to defense-in-depth strategies, as legacy views overly focused on perimeter security are not sufficient for hybrid environments that span multiple platforms.
As cloud environments have enabled utility-based computing, they have created significant cost considerations for organizations looking to minimize operating expenses. Cost considerations have grown beyond just looking to spend as little as possible. Of increasing concern is the predictability of costs and how to manage that against the needed scalability of solutions. Infrastructures that scale automatically require additional oversight to prevent huge surprises when bills arrive. One component that is often overlooked is the visibility and transparency of costs. Many cloud providers have complex line items around usage billing which can be difficult to understand and reconcile against the as-built environments.
Building a hybrid IT infrastructure extends beyond the right kinds of environments, as the location of the deployments is also essential to address latency sensitivities. Organizations should consider where users consume workloads to promote the necessary performance and delivery speeds. While latency is a critical factor for many workloads, a few milliseconds may or may not be significant. It is important to determine the actual technical requirements of what acceptable latency is and measure against that requirement rather than arbitrary goals. Other important performance factors are a function of compute resources and throughput, which may be a function of underpinning hardware. For stringent requirements, having dedicated hardware with known specifications becomes a greater concern than flexibility and speed of scaling.
The flexibility of the environment is also important as some workloads need to easily scale to address capacity fluctuations. For example, an online retailer may need to scale its infrastructure to accommodate holiday traffic surges. This scalability supports performance demands while eliminating the need to pay for and operate an expanded infrastructure for the long term. Third-party data centers or cloud solutions can also allow enterprises to add new locations or services to support future growth. When comparing deployment models, it is important to understand the step function of growth and the ability to increase or decrease resources. Hourly billing models provide great flexibility around computing in small increments but at a greater expense. For large workloads, flexibility may become a greater function of the ability to add additional storage, connectivity, and locations than just compute resources.
Given the complexity of integrating and overseeing multiple environments, enterprises should evaluate the experience of their staff before implementing a solution. Internal personnel may not have the expertise or certifications to effectively manage specific environments. Outsourced solutions can ensure a heightened level of experience and free internal resources to focus on their core businesses. The costs of management need to be factored in around all elements of operations including solution design, build, migration, support, and security.
Finding the right partner
Devising a hybrid IT strategy can be complicated, and most enterprises benefit from the expertise of an IT services provider to help them gain visibility, map interdependencies, establish governance practices, and build a solution that effectively addresses their needs across all business disciplines.
Flexential can help enterprises assess their needs and develop a hybrid IT strategy to meet diverse requirements now and into the future. With a portfolio of IT solutions, including colocation, cloud, managed, and professional services, Flexential can help deliver a comprehensive hybrid IT strategy that simplifies billing, relationship management, and the overall solutions to provide enterprises with the strategic positioning they need to future-proof their businesses.