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Optimizing Hybrid Cloud Environments: Insights From The Battlefield

87% of organizations already have a hybrid cloud environment but optimization is key to improving performance, scalability, and cost-efficiency. We reviewed 200 cloud projects from the last 12 months to gain insights about optimization areas requiring an immediate business impact.

Optimizing Hybrid Cloud Environments: Insights From The Battlefield

Optimizing Hybrid Cloud Environments: Insights From The Battlefield

Based on our experience, organizations that harbour legacy modified datacenter operations are frequently not achieving an optimal state. These organizations also have a strong motivation to move to the hybrid cloud, but in many cases, they do so without a coherent strategy. This leads to many operational challenges, and it’s because of this reason these organizations must focus on adopting an optimized hybrid cloud to increase scalability, improve performance, and deliver rapid cost optimization.

Read on this article to learn how to achieve enhanced performance in your optimized hybrid cloud strategy.

Table of contents

Introduction: Hybrid Cloud In 2020
Challenges With The Current Hybrid Cloud
Optimize Your Hybrid Cloud: Improve Performance Whilst Delivering Cost Savings
The Faster Path To Optimization
Not Just Rapid Cost Optimization
Increase Scalability
Better Performance
World-Class Architecture, Not Just Infrastructure
Conclusion: Key Considerations When Optimizing
Get Started With An Optimized Hybrid Cloud
Benefits Of An Optimized Hybrid Cloud

Introduction: Hybrid Cloud In 2020

Hybrid cloud adoption is progressively meeting the demands of increasingly connected customers with growing expectations. Hybrid cloud provides the best of both on-premise and public cloud without buying new hardware, refactoring, or re-platforming while leveraging existing investments, skillsets, and tools.

For optimal performance, a hybrid cloud solution can be combined with a multiple cloud service strategy (multi-cloud), where two or more cloud platforms are leveraged to perform various tasks.

This eliminates the dependency on a single cloud provider, allowing organizations to select resources from several providers to maximize each unique service, increasing flexibility, mitigating against disasters, and more.

Hybrid cloud is no longer just a cost-saver, but it has become an essential facilitator of innovation. Gartner recently predicted the hybrid cloud market will grow to $97.6B by 2023, at a CAGR of 17% every year from 2018. According to the State of the Cloud 2020 report, 87% of organizations are already using a hybrid cloud strategy, while 93% have a multi-cloud strategy in place.

Enterprises embrace the hybrid and multi-cloud. Source: State of the Cloud 2020 report.

Enterprises embrace the hybrid and multi-cloud. Source: State of the Cloud 2020 report.

Of that 87% using a hybrid cloud, 86% are incorporating multiple public clouds with the most common combination being a blend of various public and private clouds. More than half (53%) are taking this approach.

Types of hybrid cloud strategies preferred by organizations. Source: State of the Cloud 2020 report.

Types of hybrid cloud strategies preferred by organizations. Source: State of the Cloud 2020 report.

A multi-cloud and hybrid strategy can unlock tremendous organizational value by combining the best of both private cloud and public cloud and allowing the running of mission-critical applications and host sensitive data on-premises.

There are different hybrid cloud deployment models and they vary according to the integration option adapted. In order to ensure the correct deployment of an optimized hybrid system, it is important to consider the extent of the integration across the private and public cloud environment.

Maturity State: Watchers

Key Indicators: Evaluating/experimenting with early planning

Current Environment:

  • Private cloud
  • Old-fashioned and compliance-heavy IT processes

Cloud Expertise:

  • Less than 1 year
  • Evaluating and comparing different public providers
  • Doing Proof-of-Concept (PoC)

Mindset: Not sure that they are ready, only started developing a strategy.

Maturity State: Beginners

Key Indicators:

  • No clear vision or long-term cloud strategy
  • No consistency around services, tools, and processes
  • Starting or planning large migration (lift-and-shift)
  • Running PoC or first business apps in the cloud

Current Environment:

  • Private cloud
  • Limited usage of a public cloud
  • Old fashioned IT processes

Cloud Expertise:

  • Less than 2 years
  • 1 or 2 public clouds
  • IT processes not optimized for cloud

Mindset: Typically choosing self-managed and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) over managed services.

Maturity State: Intermediate

Key Indicators:

  • Long-term cloud strategy/vision
  • Dedicated cloud team
  • Well-established tools and processes around cloud
  • Lack of visibility, control, and active cost management strategy in cloud

Current Environment:

  • Hybrid cloud
  • One or multiple public clouds
  • Changing to cloud-focused IT

Cloud Expertise:

  • 2–5 years
  • Running part of the business in the cloud

Mindset: Active Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) users, cautious about server-less, considering Cloud Native.

Maturity State: Advanced

Key Indicators:

  • Long-term cloud strategy and roadmap
  • Strong cloud Centre-of-Excellence (CoE) good visibility, and control over the infrastructure
  • Cost management and optimization practices

Current Environment:

  • Multiple public clouds, hybrid and multicloud, or single public cloud
  • AWS, Azure, GCP

Cloud Expertise:

  • More than 3 years
  • Very strong expertise
  • Tech-savvy
  • Running most of the business in the cloud

Mindset: Cloud Native, NextGen adopters

Above shows the cloud maturity state and types of hybrid cloud deployment models as defined by SoftServe, including a hybrid infrastructure model and a hybrid application model. Cloud maturity relates to the time an organization has been using the cloud. That association is due to the time it takes to form cloud expertise and create processes and best practices across an organization.

With over 200 cloud-related projects completed in the past 12 months, SoftServe’s Centre of Excellence (CoE) team is focused on helping optimize the current hybrid cloud state of enterprises that fall within the following hybrid cloud maturity states, which we classify as the ‘intermediate’ maturity stage:

High-end beginners: Those ready to make the move or “have a strong need” to move, and have a requirement for full-scale cloud adoption (i.e. culture, processes, skills, and tools, etc.)

Low-end intermediate: Those already trying to move to the hybrid cloud, or have two siloed clouds (private and public cloud, but not connected), and are seeking acceleration with the transformation

High-end intermediate: Those who have a hybrid or pure public cloud, but require targeted improvements, and optimizations or transformation.

The ‘intermediate’ maturity state is the biggest sphere based on our experience, and organizations that fall into this stage harbour legacy modified data centre operations that are frequently not achieving an optimal state. These organizations also have a strong motivation to move to the hybrid cloud, but in many cases, they do so without a coherent strategy. This generates many operational challenges, and so these organizations must focus on adopting an optimized hybrid cloud to increase scalability, improve performance, and deliver rapid cost optimization.

This article provides insights for decision-makers within organizations that fall in the high-end beginner to low-to-high-end intermediate stage of hybrid cloud maturity and want to achieve an optimized hybrid cloud state.

Key discussion areas include:

  • Challenges with the current hybrid cloud
  • The correct path to faster optimization
  • How SoftServe can help you achieve an optimized hybrid cloud state

Organizations are continuing to rapidly invest in hybrid cloud

They struggle to accurately forecast and maintain transparency over costs

Organizations urgently need help optimizing their hybrid states, by building a cost-efficient, scalable, and high-impact solution

Challenges With The Current Hybrid Cloud

Due to the complexity and dynamic nature of the hybrid cloud, there are some hurdles experienced by organizations wanting a consistent and sustainable hybrid cloud deployment, particularly in traditional ‘hot button’ areas including trust, data security, governance, lack of talent and /or resources, and performance. Companies underestimate what the hybrid cloud can do (and what it doesn’t do). Let’s deep dive further:

  • Lack of compatibility
  • Scaling complications
  • Managing cloud spend
  • Lack of innovation and talent
  • Strict security and governance

Lack of compatibility: Adapting to new processes in a new environment when migrating to the hybrid cloud is challenging for many organizations—and they must embrace flexibility and become agile. Priority must be given to workloads that require moving to the hybrid cloud through strategic planning and processes such as application rationalization. Performing all of this work takes time because not all applications will fit in a hybrid cloud environment, and determining how best to move processes with the right patterns and tools is complicated for even experienced cloud experts.

Lack of innovation and talent: A hybrid cloud will usually have a native management and monitoring tool, perhaps available using external application programming interface (API) services. The challenge is this tool requires integration with clear and accurate on-premise monitoring and management. Organizations don’t dramatically change technically, and may not utilize different management systems or they may not know how to do it due to a lack of resources and/or talent. Therefore, many hybrid cloud providers of on-premise tools prefer to integrate public cloud providers for more efficient management options. Speed of delivery, a 360-degree view of each customer journey, and the usage of the latest technology is missing in many industries.

Scaling complications: Network latency, storage, and overall performance are key focal points for hybrid cloud management. Many organizations had to accelerate cloud plans in response to rising demand for online services and the potential risks associated with on-premise infrastructure and hardware supply chains. This created challenges in both capacity management and a lack of bandwidth. When managing a hybrid cloud, change and scale are critical drivers of success, and this is a crucial reason to migrate to an optimized state.

Organizations that run workloads only in traditional on-premise environments are faced with many challenges. They may avoid moving to the hybrid cloud altogether due to the sheer complexity of the transformation or because they have legacy mainframes requiring a lot of time and effort to ‘untangle’. The majority of the infrastructure is exceedingly complicated, technically, financially, and structurally. This leaves them with no choice but to deal with slow time-to-market and scalability problems.

Strict security and governance: Any accessibility or usage of data, especially in highly regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare, requires strict policies and procedures. With compliance, knowing exactly where data is and who has access becomes more challenging and complicated in a hybrid cloud environment. Essentially, a hybrid cloud can often demand more layers in the cloud architecture and so it is, therefore, harder to ensure the configuration of those layers in a predictable and consistent way.

Managing cloud spend: High operating costs and low ROI of existing on-premises environments is a key challenge for many companies in the hybrid state environment. The crucial part is understanding how costs incur, and how to track the usage of costs to ensure the expected ROI is achieved.

Optimize Your Hybrid Cloud: Improve Performance Whilst Delivering Cost Savings

Typical challenges in the current state

  • Lack of compatibility: With multiple infrastructure, platforms come increased possibilities of incompatibility of tools and processes.
  • Scaling complications: Scalability & efficiency issues associated with traditional datacenters arise with applications suddenly requiring more capacity and capability.
  • Lack of innovation and talent: Cloud computing has many benefits, but how fast should you adopt a hybrid cloud and do we have the talent/resources?
  • Strict security and governance: Organizations must have in place robust, and often new, governance structures when using hybrid cloud solutions.

Realize the full potential with optimized hybrid state

  • Improved performance: Provides organizations with increased infrastructure agility to accelerate their speed-to-market by eliminating silos.
  • Rapid cost optimization: Capacity management by reducing or eliminating infrastructure resource waste. Move from CAPEX to OPEX.
  • Increased scalability: Ensures proficiency for growth by making data centre capabilities and resource usage more efficient.
  • World-class app modernization: Aside from infrastructure, an optimized hybrid cloud state puts more focus on application modernization, Anthos, Apigee, and more.

The Faster Path To Optimization

Customers don’t just want to migrate to the hybrid cloud, they want to modernize their infrastructure and architecture with cloud-native technologies and techniques.

Here are some reasons why ‘taking’ the current infrastructure to an optimized hybrid cloud state is beneficial for organizations and the key areas that require immediate focus and priority:

  • Cost Optimization
  • Better Performance
  • Increased Scalability

Not Just Rapid Cost Optimization

A common misconception amongst business decision-makers is that moving to the cloud is only about saving money—however, it’s more than that as the real value is realized from increased business agility, resiliency, developer productivity, and access to higher-order services from cloud service providers (CSPs).

Successful hybrid cloud adoption is driven by speed, flexibility, and aligning the correct strategy to meet the dynamic nature of business requirements. The savings made from optimizing to a hybrid cloud can be re-deployed and invested in other business growth-critical projects. Focus on these drivers, and the returns will accumulate.

Organizations operating under a hybrid multicloud model optimally manage finances as cost models shift from fixed to variable. Storing data on-site with traditional facilities is expensive and holds organizations in long-term contracts for a set amount of data storage. This can cause over-resourcing of the infrastructure and storage, leading to payment for unnecessary resources.

An optimized hybrid cloud model allows companies to scale as needed, purchasing only what is immediately utilized using a subscription-based model offered by most CSPs. Procurement and implementation in the traditional way is slow and thus capacity management and a degree of guessing are used, resulting in over-capitalized systems offering little ROI. As the cloud allows for scaling on a pay-as-you-go model, the spend is greatly optimized.

Increase Scalability

A hybrid cloud provides an opportunity to rapidly deliver key resources across the business, consequently provisioning faster solutions for business problems. This can significantly reduce the time spent and resources needed to solve issues while enhancing agility in response to evolving customer and market demands.

A hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructure offer many cloud options to solve needs across a diverse range of business functions, thereby enhancing operational scalability. For example, if a healthcare provider is exploring options to scale-up operations to improve customer satisfaction during peak hours, the provider can deploy a hybrid and multi-cloud solution. This will enable an extension of the healthcare provider’s on-premise infrastructure to the cloud during peak hours—thus augmenting rapid scaling along with a less expensive development of ecosystems and customer services.

Better Performance

Hyper-automation: Any investment in a hybrid cloud platform must be capable of delivering the ‘hyper-automation’ required to drive agility, streamline operations, and enhance performance. Such operations provide increased infrastructure agility to accelerate speed-to-market by leveraging analytics to drive predictive operations, and automation to eradicate unnecessary tasks. By continually optimizing work environments, employees can focus on more important tasks in an agile and collaborative way, thus eliminating silos.

Decreased time-to-market: Optimized hybrid cloud decreases time taken to deliver IT infrastructure, accelerate the delivery of projects critical to revenue growth, and reduce costs. While physical servers may take days or weeks for maintenance, a cloud server takes minutes.

World-Class Architecture, Not Just Infrastructure

The hybrid cloud is also critically important for security, efficiency, and scalability reasons as well as infrastructural improvements. Application modernization (App Mod) takes existing legacy apps and modernizes platform infrastructure, internal architecture, and/or features. App Mod helps to improve the velocity of new feature delivery, exposing the functionality of existing applications, and re-platforming applications from on-premise to a hybrid cloud environment for the purpose of application scale and performance.

An optimized hybrid cloud can help address architectural and policy complexity associated with certainly required workloads, based on unique characteristics. In-App Mod, an application provides dashboard/sales forecasting. With hybrid cloud, it is also easier to add new capabilities to the organization, such as application insights, in-app user behaviours, real-time marketing campaign analytics and many others. If the application is de-coupled into microservices and exposes them to APIs, then managed services (e.g. Google’s BigQuery) are exploited to handle workload data to provide additional analytical insight with minimal efforts.

Conclusion: Key Considerations When Optimizing

The hybrid cloud is unlocking substantial opportunities to deliver more value and support the strategic requirements of existing and new applications.

  • Centralize hybrid cloud governance
  • Focus on capacity management
  • Continuously innovate
  • Be cloud-native

Despite migrating workloads to the hybrid cloud, around 80 percent of CIOs report they have not attained the level of agility and business benefits that they sought through modernization. – Source: McKinsey, 2019

Building a strategy for the datacenter and cloud that takes advantage of consistent infrastructure and operations can unlock the value of this diversity while avoiding the complexity and associated risk. Review these best practices to ensure maximization of the benefits without compromising workloads:

Centralize hybrid cloud governance: Considerations such as on-demand services, cloud network access, and security must be adhered to. Teams can begin with practices that apply to govern task automation. They can also improve governance with an efficient communication plan that effectively informs employees of policy.

Continuously innovate: Evaluate the organization’s hybrid cloud strategy with a focus on user-experience. The key is to continuously optimize the hybrid infrastructure with a real-time, 360-degree view of each customer journey—consider as many IT delivery models as possible, including hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). Deploying workload flexibly and mapping workloads is possibly the most critical step in creating a robust optimized hybrid strategy.

Focus on capacity management: When moving to an optimized hybrid cloud state, maintaining the architecture, systems, and infrastructure is key to ensuring efficiency and scalability are achieved long-term. In capacity management, the key is to re-deploy and invest any savings made into other projects that give a better platform and to increase ROI.

Be cloud-native: Management of disparate clouds requires different IT skillsets – multiple points of control can be time-consuming and difficult to manage. Extend the existing infrastructure into cloud-native environments and microservices and manage app delivery for multi-cloud architectures with live demos of the latest product updates.

Ultimately, decision-makers must ask these key questions when looking to optimize the hybrid cloud environment:

  • What (if any) external support do we require to optimize our hybrid cloud?
  • What regulations must our business comply with?
  • Can we implement this optimized hybrid cloud in multiple environments?
  • Do we have any hybrid “Cloud First” mandates or initiatives?
  • What insights from the “battlefield” do we have, and how can we utilize them?

Get Started With An Optimized Hybrid Cloud

  • What does “an optimized hybrid cloud” mean to you?
  • What is your strategy to move from the current state to an optimized hybrid state?
  • Which stakeholders and teams are contributing to your move to that optimized state?

We believe organizations that have adopted a hybrid cloud can hugely enhance infrastructure, systems, and productivity by moving to an optimized hybrid cloud state to realize rapid cost maximization, increase scalability, and improve performance.

SoftServe is a certified partner of major CSPs, including AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure, and has a methodical approach to ensure success. Our cloud experts help organizations maximize optimized hybrid cloud platforms with state-of-the-art techniques in data management, experience design, cloud architecture, and more. We help organizations unlock the hybrid cloud’s full potential by driving end-to-end cloud transformations.

Our approach starts with innovation workshops where we share best practices and address particular challenges. Next comes a discovery workshop, where we examine the details of the present state, from assets to technology choices, people and processes, to evaluate an organization’s hybrid cloud strategy with a focus on employee user experience. Our experts use all this information to create a transformation roadmap that is tailored specifically for your needs.

Benefits Of An Optimized Hybrid Cloud

  • Increased scalability: Ensuring rapid capacity delivery for growth by making datacenter capabilities and resource usage more efficient
  • Improved performance: Providing organizations with increased infrastructure agility to accelerate speed-to-market by eliminating silos
  • Rapid cost optimization: Reducing or eliminating infrastructure resource waste, redeploying and investing savings into other business growth critical projects to increase ROI

Source: SoftServe

Alex Lim is a certified IT Technical Support Architect with over 15 years of experience in designing, implementing, and troubleshooting complex IT systems and networks. He has worked for leading IT companies, such as Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco, providing technical support and solutions to clients across various industries and sectors. Alex has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the National University of Singapore and a master’s degree in information security from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the author of several best-selling books on IT technical support, such as The IT Technical Support Handbook and Troubleshooting IT Systems and Networks. Alex lives in Bandar, Johore, Malaysia with his wife and two chilrdren. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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