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How to succeed with hybrid cloud management

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In many industries, hybrid clouds are emerging as the preferred cloud environment. They combine the scalability of the public cloud with the security features of the private cloud. They are also ideal for integrating your existing data center.

However, some IT executives are concerned with the complexity of combining different clouds. This is where hybrid cloud management comes in. Developing a strategic roadmap for your hybrid cloud can prevent common issues, reduce costs, and improve performance.

Learn which hybrid cloud setups exist, why defining workloads is essential, and how to create a single pane of glass.

Free Guide:
Five steps to hybrid cloud

Would you like to learn more about implementing a hybrid cloud approach for your organization? Then download our free guide, “Five steps to hybrid cloud.”

What is hybrid cloud management?

A hybrid cloud combines the benefits of a private and a public cloud. While the public cloud environment is highly scalable and cost-effective, the private cloud is ideal for storing sensitive data. A hybrid cloud offers your business the best of both worlds.

However, due to this multi-layered setup, hybrid clouds tend to be more management-intensive. This is because of the placement of workloads, synchronization challenges, and security issues.

Hybrid cloud management aims to resolve these issues. The goal is to create one seamless cloud infrastructure to perfectly serve your organization’s IT needs. 

Why is hybrid cloud management crucial?

Optimizing your hybrid cloud management comes with several benefits.

Efficient use of resources

Combining different cloud environments will allow you to use your infrastructure more efficiently. For example, instead of straining your local data center with big data workloads, you can just place these workloads in a public cloud.

Lower cost

Smart hybrid cloud management will reduce your expenses for storage and other cloud resources. You will find more competitive prices by bidding across platforms (especially in a hybrid multi-cloud setup).

Improved uptime

Skillfully orchestrating cloud environments can improve uptime. Should something fail in a particular environment, you can move it to an alternative cloud environment you are already familiar with. This can be the difference between keeping your business services running smoothly or experiencing downtime.

Data security

With a well-managed hybrid cloud, you can ensure high data security. Sensitive data can be stored in the extra secure private cloud layer, while less sensitive data is placed in the public cloud. This is especially relevant in industries that must comply with high regulatory standards.

What are advantages of hybrid clouds

What are common hybrid cloud management tools?

A big part of hybrid cloud management is choosing the right software tools. You can either go with a proprietary, open-source, or custom solution.

Microsoft and VMware hold the most significant market share. They offer potent data center management platforms for a variety of cloud environments. This way, you can access both the private and the public cloud components of your hybrid cloud.

However, there are great alternatives, e.g., ONTAP by NetApp. It satisfies multiple use cases and enables application and data mobility without refactoring or replatforming applications. Other vendors like Mirantis, Nutanix, and Cloud Foundry offer their own solutions.

OpenStack, CloudStack, and Apache Mesosphere provide the basis for most open-source software. Ubuntu, Red Hat, and SUSE are well-known for their custom Linux distributions. 

Some vendors specialize in large-scale solutions for Fortune 500 organizations and government institutions. IBM, HP, and Fujitsu all come to mind.

If the standard tools for hybrid cloud management don’t match your use case, you can also develop your own custom tools. However, this might prolong deployment.

In this sea of options, collaborating with a specialized hybrid cloud provider can be a good idea. They know these management tools by heart and can quickly determine which solution suits your IT needs.

Best practices for managing your hybrid cloud

Here is how you can succeed with your hybrid cloud management.

1. Understand your why

A clear idea of what your hybrid cloud setup is trying to accomplish will simplify the entire management process.

For example, you might use a hybrid cloud to comply with regulatory requirements when your industry doesn’t allow you to shift all workloads to the public cloud. In that case, you‘ll need a more isolated private cloud environment to store sensitive data.

Make sure this purpose is always at the forefront of your mind. 

2. Assess different setups

Different types of hybrid clouds come with distinct advantages but also with varying levels of complexity.

For example, a “classic” hybrid cloud — a private cloud plus a public cloud — is a relatively straightforward solution. There are lots of software tools to help you deal with this scenario.

Then there are hybrid multi-clouds. Here, you combine a private cloud with multiple public clouds. For example, you might use public cloud services from both AWS and Microsoft Azure. This way, you can access various public cloud features from different vendors, which increases versatility.

Hybrid cloud management - Hybrid cloud vs. hybrid multi cloud

The downside of this is that the complexity of managing these hybrid multi-clouds will be higher. However, you can offset this by choosing the right multi-cloud tool.

There is also an emerging trend of combining on-premises data centers with public cloud solutions. Some people refer to this as a “pragmatic” hybrid cloud. Here, the challenge is seamlessly integrating existing legacy solutions with your add-on cloud environments.

The bottom line is that the hybrid cloud model you choose will affect your management efforts. Make sure to select a model that is appropriate for your use cases.

3. Define your workloads

To manage your hybrid cloud optimally, you need to plan for your workloads. You want to know precisely what each application does, what other workloads it interacts with, how it affects the end user, and what performance and security concerns exist.

This is all the more important as you are not just dealing with one cloud environment but several. For example, a backup process for your private cloud might look fundamentally different from what you use for your public cloud.

Here is a workload checklist to get you started:

  • What value do you attribute to a particular workload? How does it compare to the importance of other workloads? It can be a good idea to rank your workloads by how critical they are.
  • Where does a workload currently take place? In the public cloud, private cloud or your data center? Is this the right environment for the workload? Should it be moved?
  • When does a workload take place? Some run continuously, e.g., monitoring systems. Others only occur at certain intervals, e.g., your backup processes.
  • Who is responsible for a specific workload?
  • If a problem arises with a certain workload, which stakeholders do you need to contact? Are there procedures in place for well-known issues?

4. Create a single pane of glass

Each type of cloud environment comes with its own features, APIs, and interfaces. That can present a challenge, especially when dealing with a hybrid multi-cloud setup. Here, the complexity quickly goes through the roof.

That’s why you should create a single pane of glass, i.e., a meta interface that enables your IT team to control all the different clouds from one central panel. This will create some additional work upfront but will pay off in the long run. The everyday management of your hybrid cloud will be that much smoother.

An example is the ONTAP data management solution from NetApp, which we already mentioned. It provides a centralized management interface to manage all your public clouds and on-premises resources. With it, you avoid breaking workflows and getting locked in with a specific vendor.

5. Address security concerns

In the age of phishing and ransomware, security concerns must be at the forefront of your mind. You must make sure your customers’ data is safe.

The challenge with a hybrid cloud is that security issues must be addressed across multiple cloud environments. This might require different tools and processes for each environment.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind.

Employ an IAM system (identity and access management). This will allow you to manage user profiles and login data at scale. By using standardized security tiers, you can quickly assign appropriate security clearances. Likewise, you can easily filter out previous access privileges, for example, if an employee leaves your organization.

Encrypt your data effectively. Use a secure, unreadable format like SSL/TLS to encrypt data in transit and at rest. Also, make sure to look at all levels of the service mesh. This includes:

  • OS
  • Web server software
  • Storage chain
  • Backend processes
  • Alternative media

At the same time, keep performance issues in mind. In-flight encryption (when data is being moved across the network) is more resource-intense than at-rest encryption (when data is stored in the cloud). Employ monitoring tools to determine the best compromise.

Continuously monitor all your data. Do security audits at regular intervals to identify new vulnerabilities. A system that might have been well-protected just six months ago might now be at risk due to evolving threats.

Finally, define coherent security policies. This is all the more critical when dealing with multiple cloud environments. You want to avoid conflicts between the different cloud platforms without impairing the user experience.

6. Use SLAs

SLA stands for “Service Level Agreement.” This document defines what level of service a cloud provider will offer to their end users.

However, even if you manage your hybrid cloud in-house, you should still create an SLA. By codifying what user experience you are committed to — e.g., specific performance benchmarks or minimum availability — you are more likely to achieve it. Your users now have a standard to hold you accountable to.

7. Manage your costs

Costs for running a hybrid cloud can quickly escalate unless monitored constantly. Therefore, integrate automated cost controls into your setup. This will keep your expenses from spiraling out of control.

8. Plan for AI

In the near future, AI solutions will take over many manual management tasks. This will allow your human IT team to focus on high-level strategic thinking and creative problem-solving, which AI is not very good at (yet).

Preparing your systems for AI now is essential to enjoying these benefits. In a volatile market, the players implementing these disrupting technologies first will come out on top.

9. Find the right partners

Consider partnering with a vendor who has a cloud-native approach. These providers typically have hundreds of cloud deployments under their belts. By working with them, you will get access to their valuable insights.

Also, pay attention to how well the cloud provider addresses your needs. Is their approach tailored to your situation? Or are they selling you a one-size-fits-all solution?

Pay attention to size. Smaller providers usually have one or two areas of expertise but cannot serve you beyond that. You will have to enlist and manage several providers to meet all your hybrid cloud needs. This increases complexity.

When you hire a bigger provider, you’ll get most of your services from a single partner. This streamlined process will offset the slightly higher price point of such providers.

Manage your hybrid cloud with Proact!

Do you want to manage your hybrid cloud more efficiently? Then you should talk to our team of Proact experts.

We understand that every hybrid cloud is different and requires a unique strategy. That’s why we always sit down with your in-house IT team first to better understand your business needs.

Next, we will propose a game plan to optimize your current hybrid cloud strategy. Our objective is to improve business value while unburdening your IT team.

Finally, we will help you implement any infrastructure changes that might be necessary, monitor your systems for you, and provide your users with reliable support. Whatever service needs you might have, we take care of them.

Sound interesting? Then contact us today for a free consultation. We are excited to hear from you!

Free Guide:
Five steps to hybrid cloud

Would you like to learn more about implementing a hybrid cloud approach for your organization? Then download our free guide, “Five steps to hybrid cloud.”

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