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What CIO’s Need to Know to Capitalize on Hybrid Cloud

February 2, 2015

In case you missed it, 2015 is the year of the hybrid cloud. Everyone is talking about it. But, many still are wondering what it’s all about, what it means to them and what to do about it.

A hybrid cloud is comprised of a few or many pieces. The major components are a private cloud, either in one’s own data center or at a cloud services provider, and N+1 public clouds. Regardless of how many cloud implementations you have, it’s only a hybrid cloud when there are orchestration and automation integrating disparate cloud implementations into one dynamic infrastructure, where data can flow unencumbered amongst and between them automatically or with minimal human involvement.

Much of the how-to advice floating around about hybrid clouds is just as applicable to the corporate data center, the corporate private cloud or choosing a public cloud services provider, and has been rehashed time and again (here and elsewhere).

  • Assess your needs
  • Categorize your applications and data
  • Talk to peers
  • Choose vendors wisely
  • Take measured steps and ease into it

Sage advice to be sure, but pretty basic at this stage of the game.

Perhaps what follows is obvious, as well, since different people are in different places on the cloud design and implementation continuum. But that’s what necks are for … to stick out.

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No IT Department is an Island

Any IT organization that attempts to build a hybrid cloud infrastructure on its own is doomed to fail. The same holds true for business leaders who try to go it alone without IT help. Hybrid or not, effective and successful cloud implementations result when business and IT interests are joined at the hip.

In many companies, IT’s corporate influence and status have shrunk. It has to get them back by, first, becoming the undisputed expert on all things cloud and, second, positioning itself as the company source for brokering third-party IT services that align with corporate policies, governance, compliance, data privacy and security, service delivery expectations, evolving IT requirements, etc. … that is, the many things that the business side of the house tends to downplay in pursuit of its own objectives (which, by the way, also need to be IT’s objectives).

IT needs to be the connective tissue that holds it all together, lest it unravels into incompatible cloud silos, non-optimized applications, spastic networking, broken security, duplication and wasted opportunities… not to mention a great deal of time and money expended later to re-architect everything.

Wrong People at the Wrong Time

Is your IT organization staffed for yesterday or for tomorrow? Cloud implementations bring many changes, not the least of which is misalignment of internal skill sets. Just as the management skills and experience needed to bring life to a start-up company are different from those needed to guide a company through sustainable growth and maturation, becoming a broker of IT services instead of a provider requires thinking and acting differently.

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It’s a familiar refrain: moving to the cloud frees IT staff from day-to-day routine activities to focus on higher value, revenue-generating, market-creating activities that propel the business forward. That assumes that you have the departmental talent to track, evaluate and manage cloud services, to interact and strategize with lines of business, and to serve as the intermediary between the company’s business interests and third-party providers.

Don’t forget the network

The fact that network upgrades and more bandwidth accompany cloud deployments is, if not a surprise, underestimated in its importance by IT staff. Maximizing the value of and benefits from cloud computing depend on automated, programmable networks that can handle the increased and fluctuating traffic demands. The hybrid cloud takes that requirement to exponentially higher levels.

A recent independently commissioned survey uncovered the following information about cloud deployments and networks:

  • 78 percent of enterprises had to upgrade one or more aspects of the network
  • 47 percent of enterprises had to upgrade network bandwidth
  • 46 percent had to invest in new security services

Nothing will draw unwanted attention to cloud initiatives from management, internal users and customers more than networks that perform no better or worse than what they had before.

Do you Need Private Cloud?

Building out a private cloud infrastructure, with all the associated time, money, complexity, staffing and other things that go into it, alongside your legacy infrastructure isn’t a requirement for hybrid cloud computing.

The argument to build your own typically comes down to maintaining control, securing critical workloads and information, and learning from the experience to make you a better consumer of public cloud services. While that may be true, standing up your own private cloud is not the only way to satisfy these needs. Not every cloud service provider will be capable of helping you accomplish the same outcomes – control, security, and consultation – but some do and much more.

The cloud industry is evolving and expanding faster than you can possibly imagine. And the services to be found there will frequently surpass in-house capabilities such as security, compliance, backup, and recovery if they haven’t already.

Interesting in learning more about hybrid cloud solutions? Talk to a Peak 10 solutions engineer.  Or download the Peak 10 Hybrid Cloud Solutions data sheet.

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About Peak 10

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