Cloud Automation | 5 min read

    A Guide to Effective Hybrid Cloud Management

    Most organizations are taking a one-foot-in approach to cloud computing, keeping critical systems on-premises and building hybrid environments. But with complex integrations, threats to security, and inadvertent expenses, how can IT prevent the hybrid cloud from creating a big, giant storm?

    What is Hybrid Cloud? 

    Hybrid cloud uses a combination of on-premises infrastructure and public cloud or private cloud computing. Moreover, hybrid cloud is the end-to-end orchestration between on-prem and cloud-based infrastructure and services. For example, your data center could be located on-premises, but workflows require information from your data center to be accessible via public or private cloud resources.

    Leveraging cloud resources has become a necessity for modern businesses, but few organizations are able or willing to go all-in as a cloud-first organization. Why? Because mainframes and on-premises infrastructure provide crucial benefits that can’t be achieved in the cloud. To that end, many organizations are taking a hybrid-IT approach.

    For example, a hybrid cloud environment allows organizations to maintain legacy tools and applications that are critical to their operations. This also helps keep capital expenses to a minimum, as organizations don’t need to invest in new infrastructure resources, and ensures data protection as highly secure information can remain on-premises. As a result, businesses can pair the benefits of on-premises data control with the speed and accessibility of the cloud, ensuring competitive advantages in the race to keep up with changing market conditions.

    While a hybrid IT environment provides both agility and security, organizations struggle to get the best of both worlds as coordinating enterprise applications, managing dynamic workloads, and standardizing security across on-prem and cloud infrastructures pose several major challenges.

    Obstacles to a Hybrid Cloud Environment

    Cloud computing offers swift access to real-time data at a significantly lower price tag than on-premises infrastructure. Consequently, cloud adoption is continuing to expand with more and more organizations using software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions through, for instance, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. 

    With what seems like effortless scalability paired with low operating costs, what’s stopping businesses from moving entirely to the cloud?

    A big reservation toward cloud adoption is the increased threat of security attacks and data breaches as well as compliance issues. While a private cloud can help ease these concerns, it doesn’t rid them entirely. 

    Not to mention, the lower costs of the cloud can be offset quickly by the high costs of idle resources and deadline delays.

    Although critical to day-to-day operations, managing virtual/cloud resources in a hybrid IT environment can prove time-consuming and be prone to manual error. As a result, systems can be left running long after they’re needed, driving up operational costs. 

    And this isn’t the only way businesses can rack up their operations tab. 

    If jobs within a workflow take up resources but aren’t capable of completing successfully, workloads can delay. And with job completion running low, costs on idle cloud servers run high, which means businesses ultimately miss out on the main benefits of a cloud solution altogether. 

    Another major issue organizations face with managing a hybrid IT infrastructure is integrating cloud platforms with existing technologies and vendors. This often leads to siloed workload management and fractured governance, complicating compliance with internal policies and external regulations. 

    Gartner recognizes this trend as they note how organizations “usually use each cloud service provider’s management tools for services at that provider, regardless of what tools are used to manage on-premises infrastructure.” 

    Why is this a problem? 

    Separate tools, each with their own security policies, licensing costs, and resource usage, more often than not, aren’t designed to communicate with each other. In attempts to create cohesion, custom scripting is often used as a patchwork solution. Or, orchestration simply does not exist, which means manual hand-offs, increased errors, and rising operating costs.

    The solution?

    A successful hybrid cloud management strategy that’s equipped to handle the secure integration between on-and-off premises infrastructures.

    How to Optimize Your Hybrid Cloud Environment

    Create End-to-End Orchestration 
    Managing separate cloud platforms leads to complex IT processes and slower operations. Effective hybrid cloud tools promote integrated cloud services so that data and dependencies can be easily and reliably passed across on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments. Additionally, a low-code API standardization can be used to connect to API endpoints, allowing for seamless integration with providers like Google Cloud, AWS, or other SaaS/PaaS cloud management platforms.

    Optimize Virtual/Cloud Computing Environments While Minimizing Expenses
    Automating the provisioning of resources across virtual and cloud systems allows IT teams to scale workloads across hybrid systems. An even more powerful approach to hybrid cloud management is to apply machine learning capabilities for intelligent automated provisioning. This way, resources can be dynamically scaled up or down based on real-time demands, past usage patterns, and forecasted workloads. This not only cuts costs by eliminating idle resources, but also increases the likelihood of successful, on-time job completion, allowing IT operations to more easily meet SLAs and other business deadlines.

    Prevent Delays and SLA Breaches
    Because cloud resources are easily accessible at lower costs to the business, they’re often shared across departments within the enterprise, despite competing priorities. With everyone vying for the same resources, bottlenecks are bound to happen. 

    SLA tools, when applied to a hybrid IT environment, can monitor workflows with completion tied to SLAs or business policies. Alerting capabilities can also be applied to alert the appropriate teams of an impending SLA breach. This reserves the virtual/cloud resources needed to prevent a breach from happening.

    Uphold Security and Compliance Protocols
    Many organizations rely on data protection through their on-premises infrastructures because of security concerns with cloud solutions. However, to coordinate a successful hybrid IT model, organizations can establish secure connections between schedulers and virtual machines so that workloads can be safely distributed across off-premises environments. 

    One way to do this is through SSL and TLS connections. Another way is through a multi-tenant architecture that can designate access and permissions to different users based on organizational needs. This helps prevent unauthorized users from accessing private or secure information.

    Another hesitation toward cloud adoption is issues around compliance due to its high accessibility, and thus, vulnerability to unwanted changes. Also, multiple cloud tools can make it difficult to track changes and maintain governance. 

    Hybrid cloud management solutions simplify compliance by using a single tool to manage workloads and file transfers across environments. Additionally, supporting policy-driven governance with auditing and revision capabilities provides transparency and control over integrated on-prem/off-prem resources. 

    With powerful hybrid cloud management tools, businesses can maximize their virtual and cloud investments without sacrificing on-premises control.

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    Cassie Doheny

    Cassie is a staff writer for the IT Automation without Boundaries blog, where she covers thought leadership in IT. She has written for several blogs and social media accounts around the Tristate area and received her B.A. in Communication and Theology from The University of Scranton (yes, like Scranton from The Office). When not making you question your IT strategy, you can find Cassie viewing life from behind the lens of her camera or belting out show tunes to her 7-month old.

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