These past few years you’ve heard a lot about the cloud. The cloud that’s always been there has a new approach for companies. Run your applications directly from the cloud instead of deploying them on-premises by subscribing to various SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions. Spin up servers on the go as you need them and see how much it will cost your company up front, which is known as IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service). Besides that, there are PaaS (Platform as a Service) and DaaS (Desktop as a Service) offerings. This brings a newfound agility and a sense of immediate gratification to the old IT model that we have become accustomed to. The ability to order an application on the fly is a relatively new commodity.
This still takes an enormous amount of faith and trust in the provider you choose. A feeling of less control of the infrastructure and possible vulnerabilities keep many would-be customers hesitant to take a full leap into a cloud provider. Many shops have governance and legacy applications in place that they have relied on for years. However, the enticing approach cloud can offer has brought a more hybrid approach to IT that is becoming more common in our industry.
Instead of making a giant leap into cloud computing, companies are using a best of breed for their business needs. Hybrid IT is a model whereby you can utilize internal and external cloud resources, often in the form of a hybrid cloud. Organizations have been testing and becoming more comfortable with the idea of an external cloud, and perhaps with that external staff to support it. Cloud companies such as AWS and Azure have brought a new IT role to organizations. For this reason, internal staff have to be retrained to support external cloud as well. Cloud providers give companies the ability to spin up servers and applications fast with a charge-back model. Customers can put their test or development environment in the cloud and keep critical applications in their own internal cloud as they acclimate to the change. Right or wrong, security is still a big concern with external cloud. Consumers believe having an on-site solution gives them more control and the ability to pass those PCI audits and manage their HIPAA compliance. In either case, a company still needs to enforce its security policies of patching, password management, and data management whether it is for an application running in the local data center or in the cloud provider. Lately, it is becoming easier to get certified externally, so this is often not the concern it once was.
Lack of control and migration issues are also a pain people consider when moving to an external cloud. This keeps the hybrid approach more of a reality in today’s IT. This new approach means engineers are no longer just builders maintaining an environment. Instead, they become brokers to a server and/or platform, helping guide intelligent placement of workloads. An external cloud can free up existing staff from operational infrastructure tasks and bring more focus to larger projects that utilize their skills.
Another great use case that is becoming more common is using external cloud for disaster recovery. Instead of managing two or more data centers, or offloading tapes off-site, there are many offerings allowing replication to a cloud provider. Considering many companies don’t have an actual DR plan, this may get them more on board with an affordable solution. Instead of paying for data center space, network connectivity, and power, an SMB can use a cloud provider to provide resiliency to their business users.
Hybrid cloud and IT is bridging a gap and a need for flexibility while delivering agility to a growing enterprise. IT roles are evolving to a mix of outsourced and on-site talents. Hybrid IT requires a new strategy to balance and audit what can live in the external cloud, the costs behind it versus keeping it on-premises, and the value behind that decision. Bandwidth requirements, delivery, and accessibility all have to be considered, no matter where a service lives.