With businesses moving faster every day, the only real constant is change; changing strategies, changing infrastructure, and changing technologies. New concepts such as the cloud are ushering in a sea of new opportunities that force businesses to reset their expectations about what’s possible. When businesses adopt these technologies, it also creates new workloads and demands on the data centre, which in turn impact the end-user and change the way a business functions. This ‘evolutionary leap’ not only enables businesses to achieve sustainable competitive advantage, but also challenges the traditional ways of growing a business using IT. Companies need a way of bridging current infrastructure and future investments to help connect, innovate and grow. When it comes to the cloud, a hybrid approach provides the most stable foundation for the future.
Why deploy a hybrid cloud?
The majority of businesses currently use a combination of public and private clouds to store their data. Public clouds store enterprise data on servers owned by third-party providers, reducing maintenance and operational costs for the business. However, organisations can feel as though their data is being held over a barrel. If the third-party provider suffers a blackout or an error, the organisation is left unable to access their information, and changing providers can also prove to be a hassle. Meanwhile, a private cloud is operated and managed in a separate data centre owned by the organisation. Whilst this means that businesses can fully customise their setup, the added headache of managing a data centre can interfere with day-to-day operations.
Hybrid cloud promises to offer a light at the end of the tunnel - offering the advantages of both types of cloud in a single entity that combines a public cloud provider with a private cloud platform. By spreading computational data across these two resources, organisations can optimise their environment and ensure that their day-to-day functions are streamlined. For example, email can be kept on a public cloud to ensure that the demands of employees accessing their accounts doesn’t slow down access to important data on the private side of the cloud. It also grants customers the key component they need; control. An enterprise can determine for itself what type of data can be stored on a public server whilst ensuring that sensitive information is protected on a private cloud. They can make use of the benefits of both public and private clouds, meaning they can change their approach as they see fit.
Overcoming the challenges of the modern business world
However, there is no simple way of transitioning to a new approach to technology, and organisations face a unique set of challenges when it comes to deploying a hybrid cloud. Whilst every deployment focuses on the need for timing, transition and end user support, hybrid cloud presents new and interesting challenges for IT decision makers. For example, the rise of big data means that hybrid cloud deployments need to ensure that this data is being kept efficiently, allowing for instant access to data without slowing down the rest of the network. With hybrid cloud, organisations can choose where their data is stored, and can deploy powerful compute and storage to ensure that they are maximising their setup’s efficiency and minimising lag across the network.
Budget concerns are also playing heavily on the minds of IT decision makers, as they have to justify their purchasing decisions to the C-suite. Whatever is deployed today often must remain relevant for five years, or sometimes even longer – it can’t simply be replaced after a year’s use, and must stay within the network for its life cycle. Hybrid cloud allows customers to purchase equipment in line with their current business needs, whilst also being able to expand as and when they are ready. IT decision makers are already well informed about the costs of hybrid cloud, and 71 per cent said that the costs of running a hybrid cloud were the same as they had initially anticipated – it means that they are able to stay within budget whilst also providing a future-ready solution.
Security is also a key element to consider in the data centre, especially given the rise in attacks against organisations. Previously, keeping data in the public cloud meant that data was left vulnerable to the flaws inherent in the public cloud provider – if an attack affected the service, then all data saved would be at risk to some extent. Hybrid cloud instead empowers organisations to protect their most valuable data on their terms; they are the ones who decide where important data is stored, and how that data is protected from external and internal threats. It puts control back in the best hands – the hands of the company that understands their customers’ needs.
Finally, as more organisations adopt a hybrid model, IT departments are faced with the new challenge of managing access, spending and consumption of cloud services across multiple platforms. It is important to use a unified management console from which IaaS cloud services and applications can be easily managed and delivered, giving users secure, fast access to the services they need to conduct business.
The future-ready enterprise with hybrid cloud
Hybrid cloud is slated to be the ultimate end-state for the enterprise – it provides maximum benefits for minimal costs, and can be integrated with current cloud environments used by businesses. In fact, nearly half of IT decision makers in the UK already believe that this is the optimal solution for their enterprise, and this is partly down to how it fits with the current mind-set of businesses. They want to be agile, fluid and flexible, and to do so their IT infrastructure must be exactly the same. As current equipment reaches the end of its useful life, more companies will need to ensure that they are future-ready and well equipped to handle the challenges of tomorrow. It’s important that organisations select the approach that’s right for them and for many, a hybrid cloud solution may well offer the best of both worlds.
Margaret Franco, executive director, Enterprise Center of Competency, Dell EMEA
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