IT Focus Area: Data Center
June 18, 2018
The Truth about Hybrid IT: 5 Things to Avoid to Get a Better Balance
Yes, the rumors are true, the data center is no longer just a single physical structure. In the era of “data rules everything,” today’s modern enterprises are seeking better ways to balance faster delivery of applications and services with security, compliance, performance and scalability. Whether you are currently running a hybrid IT environment, or building your next-generation data center, hybrid IT will likely play a significant role.
Is Hybrid IT the New Normal?
A study conducted by IDC found that 90 percent of respondents already had a hybrid IT strategy in place. Research also suggests that an increasing number of IT departments are experimenting with cloud or are working toward integrating it into their IT strategy. Even big-name cloud companies like Dropbox are turning to hybrid IT to help combat new storage challenges. Last year, Dropbox collaborated with HPE to move their data on-premises in the U.S., while the cloud “lives” in Europe.
While many organizations are making the leap to hybrid IT, some are stumbling upon the hybrid design by chance. In a recent survey conducted by Forrester, two-thirds of the organizations ended up with hybrid IT by accident. Additionally, only 33 percent of the businesses had designed a comprehensive hybrid IT strategy from the ground up. The other interviewees reported having to triage an organic model, or that their current plans are spinning out of control.
Trying to transform your company’s infrastructure without the correct strategy and technical expertise can severely disrupt your business. It can lead to an unmanageable and risky mix of workload-specific hardware platforms and shadow IT that could tie your organization in knots.
For a successful implementation, here are five things to avoid when your organization is preparing for hybrid IT:
- Inflexible infrastructures that hold back deployment
- Complexity that undermines control over IT
- Traditional IT operations that impede application development
- Legacy infrastructure that increases business risks
- IT procurement and provisioning processes that increase costs
Flexibility is Key to Accelerating Speed of Service
The current priority for IT leaders is to accelerate the speed of service deployment without putting a strain on legacy technologies. You must transform your infrastructure without disrupting your company’s ability to deliver products and services.
When done by design, hybrid IT has the potential to help businesses see increased benefits and—more importantly—control overprovisioned workloads.
In the same Forrester survey, here’s what businesses who are led by hybrid IT had to say:
- 92% were able to meet customer expectations
- 91% gained a competitive edge over traditional competitors
- 98% increased upsell/cross-sell opportunities
- 89% improved user experience (UX)
- 89% derived better data insights
- 86% streamlined their business processes
Now more than ever, IT must accelerate the business with the flexibility to adapt to new business demands across environments. One significant advantage of implementing a hybrid IT solution is that integration with central IT brings the core strengths of legacy IT, including operations management, security, and backup and disaster recovery tools and processes.
Your Hybrid IT Checklist
Finding success with hybrid IT technology is all about finding the right mix of traditional, on-premises environments, along with private and public clouds. Use this checklist to get your integration on track.
- Securing Your Hybrid IT: Conducting a comprehensive security audit should be the first task on your list. This includes evaluating firewall policies as well as any existing applications that require a firewall rule. You’ll also want to examine all users, existing privileges, policies and procedures surrounding the granting and monitoring of admin rights. A comprehensive monitoring or logging solution can help identify shadow IT situations, and it will help your organization maintain control.
- Workload Placement: Just because you can place your workload on the cloud doesn’t mean that you should. The way your workload is structured should reflect the uniqueness of your infrastructure. One-size-fits-all infrastructures may be good for one-size-fits-all applications, but it breaks down as soon as customizations and unique needs hit the scene. Four key factors should influence your workload placement: hybrid IT security and compliance; total cost of ownership; application performance; and level of control with regard to company culture and policies.
- Cross-platform Management & Monitoring: IT administrators agree that a hybrid infrastructure introduces a host of management and monitoring complexities. You’ll want to avoid the traditional method of pulling together a mixture of siloed tools, as this will only add complexities down the road. Fortunately, tools are emerging that help organizations more easily integrate and manage the entire IT environment from a single solution. When evaluating the monitoring and management solutions for hybrid IT, be sure to consider what capabilities you need in your cloud and how they might impact your whole environment.
- Evaluating Your Infrastructure: How do you distinguish core vs. critical apps? Identifying your core applications can be a complex task because applications that support critical business operations vary from one business to another. Taking inventory of your current apps requires administrators to be aware that not every application in use is known to IT. Additionally, some applications may be critical to a particular function, job or project that is not necessarily core to the enterprise.
- Data Security Considerations: Just like all other aspects of hybrid IT, the location you choose for individual workloads depends on several factors, including security. Staying on top of security is an ongoing task, and no single measure or technique can keep a company’s data secure. It all comes down to understanding what responsibilities are outsourced to a cloud vendor, and what will remain the responsibility of the organization. One of the weakest links in any security system is the human element. People can make mistakes. When considering your information and security strategy, you should ensure that there is always a second set of eyes reviewing all decisions, systems and processes.
Investing Intelligently in Hybrid IT
While adopting a hybrid IT model can bring a number of benefits to your organization, it can be costly. Having a defined plan can help you keep an eye on costs, but don’t expect to see ROI right away. It’s not unusual for savings to begin in year two, but they often grow steadily after that.
The successful transformation to a hybrid infrastructure requires careful planning, a collaborative approach, and deep expertise with leading technologies. Get ready to take the leap with a strategic approach to implementation.