Skip to main content

Building a successful full Hybrid IT infrastructure in three steps

communication technology
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa)

Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way businesses operate, communicate and function. The pandemic has undoubtedly made organizations more aware of the need for resilience and agility, increasing the adoption of Hybrid IT services. Pre-pandemic research from IDC predicted that over 90 percent of enterprises globally will be using a combination of in-house environments, with multiple public and private clouds by next year. This may prove to be an underestimation given following the impacts of the pandemic. 

Businesses that have decided to take a multi-cloud approach have been able to optimize their IT infrastructure spend whilst dramatically reducing any risk associated with the hybrid working model. By putting a Hybrid IT environment in place, companies are more agile, able to scale and better manage costs, while ensuring consistent performance, availability of services and data, and tighter control over security. 

Determining success when using Hybrid IT goes beyond just deciding what workloads to deploy in the cloud and what to keep on-prem. As technology and businesses look to evolve out of the pandemic with a new, more agile IT infrastructure there are key considerations to be made when choosing a hybrid approach:  

1. Buying the base and renting when a spike occurs

Owning the base and renting the spike takes advantage of both cloud and on-premises infrastructure to balance cost and performance requirements.

Owning the base means procuring the capacity and associated hosting that is needed to securely support steady demand. This includes buying servers, networking and storage to be hosted on-premises or in a colocation data center.

It’s common for organizations to experience spikes in demand and increased traffic during times like sales events, or more recently, when almost everything turns digital. A public cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) environment provides the agility and scalability to rapidly accommodate peaks and troughs, so you only pay for the infrastructure needed at any given time. 

Renting IaaS capacity can be much more cost-efficient than purchasing hardware, as it requires investing in unused capacity outside of those spikes, providing a better option for companies all year round. 

2. Working out the perfect fit 

Public clouds are designed to maximize multi-tenancy to squeeze as many customers as possible onto infrastructure. They also tend to offer services that are charged by the hour or the second. If applications aren’t required 24/7 – like testing or development environments – organizations can save money by powering systems down outside of operational hours.

Because public clouds are built to host many tenants, they can face capacity challenges too. To mitigate this, public cloud providers offer services in predefined sizes or with specific performance attributes. Unfortunately, this can result in performance limitations and higher costs for users. Additionally, the skills required to build and maintain a public cloud are less readily available and come with a steeper learning curve. This can make it more difficult for some organizations to meet compliance and regulatory requirements.

Meanwhile, private cloud providers tend to have a smaller number of multi-tenant customers, making capacity challenges easier to manage. This can allow for a wider range of performance offerings at a more cost-efficient price point.

Workloads that run 24/7 and don’t easily scale are often more cost-effective to run on private clouds, since public clouds often have predefined attributes that aren’t always a perfect match for the needs of the workloads. Private clouds typically offer fine grade matching of resource allocation that results in less overprovisioning and fewer wasted resources.

In terms of security, innovation within the public cloud comes at a faster pace than the private cloud, allowing organizations to deploy new services more quickly to address modern threats. However, these offerings are usually constrained to virtual multi-tenant environments, which may not meet the desired security posture. Private cloud can offer the benefits of both physical and virtual security offerings, albeit often at a slower pace of innovation.

The speed of innovation in the public cloud is not limited to security offerings either; it extends to features like rewriting applications to become cloud-native. However, turning a legacy application into a cloud-native application is a costly and time-consuming process, and for some legacy applications, is not easily accomplished.

Because every application and every organization is different, a blended approach of public cloud, private cloud and on-premises infrastructure is often the best way to meet business needs.

3. Ensuring connectivity is agile and adaptable 

Operating in a blended infrastructure environment means connectivity is vital. Traditional connectivity had contracts that were often fixed for several years, but today’s business needs are more dynamic.

Workloads may need to change hosting platforms or locations. As a result, the network needs to be more flexible than a traditional network. Out of this need, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) was born.

SDN, which is more cloud-like in its procurement approach, means connectivity changes can be made in seconds, scaling up and down and in and out, allowing a business to pay only for the bandwidth it needs.

Large-scale remote working has increased the need for internet bandwidth and often changed a company’s bandwidth profile, as tactical workloads have been moved or created in the cloud. Traditional network connectivity isn’t able to respond to these changing requirements in a timely fashion, often burdening IT operations and negatively impacting business outcomes.

When decisions are made about infrastructure, organizations must consider network access to that infrastructure. For the fastest ramp-up, the least risk, and the most predictable performance, private connectivity to a cloud provider makes the most sense. Private connectivity to a private cloud IaaS provider also allows an organization to improve security, reliability, and predictability more than using the public internet – which will help support compliance.

For latency-sensitive workloads or those with large amounts of data egress, locate on-premises or collocated infrastructure close to an organization’s private cloud environment. This will help reduce latency, increase bandwidth, and minimize data charges for maximum efficiency.

Why pick one when you can have them all? 

Businesses are beginning to recognize the benefits of not just choosing one, but flexing between multiple available infrastructures, with 8 in 10 organizations already utilizing a cloud infrastructure that is hybrid and dynamic in nature. With several recognizable benefits, including maximizing cost-efficiency, performance, security and reliability, businesses are beginning to reveal the potential of embracing a hybrid infrastructure.  

There’s no doubt that the pandemic is just one factor that has contributed to the ever-changing business market we’re experiencing today, with technology being central to this. But as tech becomes more advanced, the risk of cyberattacks and rising costs, are ever-present. The last eighteen months have highlighted that it has never been more important for businesses to have the resilient infrastructure in place. To ensure Hybrid IT success, putting the right workloads and applications in the right places and ensuring fast connectivity is mission-critical.

Leon Godwin, Principal Cloud Evangelist for EMEA, Sungard Availability Services

Leon Godwin, Principal Cloud Evangelist for EMEA, Sungard Availability Services.