As cloud services become increasingly popular, businesses are buying in. Integration of these services doesn’t always happen smoothly with existing environments, however, and adjustments will likely need to be made to IT teams and structures. If you want to take advantage of the flexibility of cloud services but don’t want to completely outsource IT, a hybrid solution could be right for you.
What Is Hybrid IT?
Hybrid IT is a blend of on-premise and cloud-based services that has emerged with the increasing migration of businesses to cloud environments. It can be used as either an interim solution, while a business transitions to the cloud, or as a long-term solution in a blended environment. Hybrid IT teams can be composed primarily of on-premise professionals with some individual components managed by cloud providers or vice versa depending on need.
Typically, hybrid solutions are selected due to some combination of existing technical need, a greater requirement for security or redundancy, a demand to access the data quickly and more frequently, and/or the existence of processes or services that cannot be moved off-site, such as offline services.
Hybrid IT Benefits
Hybrid IT can offer a variety of benefits that are not available through traditional or cloud-only teams.
Hybrid configurations allow IT teams to maximize resources and performance while reducing time spent installing, maintaining, or upgrading systems. By shifting some of these tasks to the cloud, IT professionals can focus on configuration optimization, monitoring, and end-user support.
Hybrid environments allow IT teams to continue to support legacy applications that cannot be easily migrated and to ensure the availability of services through on-premises data centers, without missing out on the benefits of wider availability that clouds can provide. The ease of transferring backup data, and the redundancy of data in multiple geographic areas, allow hybrid teams to quickly restore systems with minimal, if any, downtime.
The cost of hybridization can be tricky, but with careful monitoring can provide significant savings and ensure that maximum ROI is gained from investments.
The ability to pay as you grow for hybrid storage avoids the higher costs associated with legacy systems that require purchasing enough equipment to cover the greatest possible demand and allows IT budgets to be better optimized.
Hybrid IT allows businesses to distribute data and applications according to privacy or security concerns, which is often of great importance to compliance boards and CIOs. A hybrid team can manage security controls and privacy settings as needed both on-premise and remotely, ensuring that appropriate standards are universally kept.
Hybrid IT Solutions
When it comes to hybrid solutions, there are three main options, which can be adopted individually or in combination.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, in which third-party vendors use the web to deliver applications, make up the largest share of the public cloud market due to their ease of adoption and near-universal functionality. They are typically accessed by end-users directly through a web browser, eliminating the need for IT to install or manage applications on endpoints.
Adoption of these solutions allows IT teams to move select functionality to the cloud while retaining full control over on-premise infrastructure, software, and data.
SaaS services are usually subscription-based or pay-per-use, allowing them to be adopted and scaled up with relative ease. Some examples of SaaS services are MS Office Suite, Gmail, CRMs like Salesforce, or communication applications like GoToMeeting.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions provide self-service, remotely hosted infrastructures on which you can store data, run processes, and host applications. They provide servers, storage, networking hardware, and a virtualization or hypervisor layer, all accessible through a Wide Area Network (WAN) such as the Internet.
IaaS providers typically include monitoring, log access, security protocols, load balancing or clustering, and data backup and recovery features in their services which you can customize to your needs. For users with smaller amounts of data, IaaS services are often adopted to replace on-premise infrastructures. But users with larger amounts of data typically use it in addition to their on-site resources to increase application or data availability or to handle overflowing demand of resources.
The cost of IaaS services is based on a combination of usage and provisioning, depending on your configuration. This makes them ideal for highly variable resource demands but requires good monitoring and oversight to ensure optimization. The best-known examples of these services include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine (GCE).
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions provide both infrastructure and software tools and are typically used for creating and hosting applications. These solutions tend to be geared towards DevOps teams as they are designed to increase the efficiency of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and facilitate the transition to cloud-native applications.
PaaS solutions are more frequently adopted as cloud-only environments, making them more ideal for startups, but can be used in addition to other services.
PaaS services are typically pay-as-you-go, but issues of vendor lock-in can create a more subscription-like pay structure. Some examples of PaaS solutions are Google App Engine (GAE), Cloud Foundry, and Software AG Cloud.
Hybrid IT Management━Key Strategies
Here are strategies that can help simplify the process of implementing a Hybrid IT strategy.
IT leaders need to fully account for costs of adoption, including labor, security, disaster recovery procedures, and time. You must be clear on contract and Service Level Agreement (SLA) terms to ensure that you aren’t paying for a service you won’t receive or be stuck with a service you can’t use. After the initial stages, you must decide which specific services to use and what data or functionality to transfer as well as your method of migration. Access restrictions, user training, and security policies will all need to be determined and policies created.
IT Data Security
To fully secure your hybrid environment, start with a comprehensive security audit, including endpoint accessibility. You should evaluate current users and their permissions, to verify that they are correct and that credentials are secure. Make sure that you include end-user training in your IT plan, as unfamiliarity with cloud-based processes can create liabilities. A centralized logging and monitoring solution that includes alert functionality will help you ensure that your entire configuration is secure and help you verify that the steps you’ve taken are effective.
Once you have a hybrid environment set up, it’s crucial that you continue to monitor and manage your configuration to ensure that there are no gaps in security or performance. You should have policies in place dictating how frequently your IT environment is evaluated, who is doing the evaluation, and what measures are being considered. Compare performance and usage metrics when evaluating the efficiency of spending and resources, and use them to inform what adjustments might be beneficial.
As existing technical debt expires or software outlives its usefulness, research what options are available to you and ensure that the ones you select integrate smoothly with your existing environments. If you can consolidate your accounts, you will have a simpler time managing your system as a whole and will likely have more successful integrations.
How Cloudian HyperStore Can Help
Management and storage of your hybrid infrastructures need not be a concern with a solution like Cloudian® HyperStore®, a scalable, on-premise object storage platform with a 100% S3 native API. HyperStore lets you easily manage your data in public and private storage and can be integrated with a variety of cloud and third-party services, including migration services.
Cloudian’s solution offers automatic data verification and encryption and allows you to use custom metadata tags for search and analytics. It allows you to easily manage stored data according to bucket-level policies, including backup scheduling and lifecycle, as well as automate erasure coding and replication.
HyperStore will help you store your data securely and efficiently, leaving you free to make sure you’re getting the most from your hybrid configuration.