Setting up a hybrid cloud: 3 essential steps

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According to a recent study by IT company IDG, almost 43% of companies in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa) use hybrid cloud structures. The main reason for the widespread use of this form of IT architecture is the search for a balance between performance and cost optimisation. The management and security of different application workloads, improved business continuity, agility and flexibility also contribute to the widespread use of the hybrid cloud. By using public and private cloud platforms simultaneously, organisations can enjoy the benefits of cloud computing while maintaining greater control over their data, systems and applications.

However, this architecture is also the most complex to implement, particularly in terms of maintaining IS consistency and avoiding fragmentation. Here are 3 essential steps to implement a hybrid cloud.

Understanding how a hybrid cloud architecture works

The first step to successfully implementing a hybrid cloud is to understand in detail what it is all about. Only then can the migration plan, the steps and the elements to be migrated or not be clearly defined and planned.

A hybrid cloud is an integrated cloud service that uses both public and private clouds to store data and perform certain functions within the same organisation.
Most often, public cloud services are used for all non-sensitive operations and rely on the private cloud for data access and permissions when needed.

There are 3 main hybrid cloud models:

  • a configuration where services from separate cloud providers are combined to offer private and public services as an integrated solution. But in this case, it is more commonly referred to as multi-cloud.

  • a solution where individual cloud providers offer a complete hybrid package. This is the case, for example, with the AWS Common, AWS Wavelength or AWS Snow hybrid cloud services.

  • an organisation where companies manage their private clouds themselves and subscribe to a public cloud service which they then integrate into their infrastructure.

With a hybrid cloud, there is no need to use cloud-hosted storage for data. The data can remain on site. The public cloud will then allow it to be used flexibly and agilely from anywhere in the world. As with an outsourced cloud strategy, it is therefore crucial to choose the right provider.

Choosing the right cloud provider 

When designing and implementing a hybrid cloud configuration, organisations leverage the services of one or more public cloud providers.
This structural and organisational change can bring many benefits, but it also represents a significant investment in time and resources.

In order to make this investment worthwhile, the choice of public cloud provider must be a carefully considered decision. Do not default to the big names in cloud computing such as AWS, Azure or Google Cloud. In order to set up an effective hybrid cloud, it is first necessary to thoroughly evaluate the services offered by each provider and, above all, their suitability for the needs and challenges associated with setting up the public cloud.

Another decisive criterion when choosing a public cloud provider is to check its commitments in terms of service quality and availability (SLA, for Service-Level Agreement). SLA validation is particularly important in hybrid cloud environments as it determines the uptime, availability and performance of the architecture.

Finally, it is also important to understand compliance requirements prior to the transition to the hybrid cloud. If sensitive data is entering public cloud systems, companies have a responsibility to ensure that the cloud provider has the required certifications to comply with all data protection policies.

Implementing a coherent hybrid cloud

The loss of coherence and fragmentation of applications and resources are the major risks for hybrid cloud architectures.

To avoid this, here are 3 key tips: 

1) Segment workloads and applications

The key benefit of using a hybrid cloud configuration is to take advantage of the scalability and flexibility of the public cloud. This reduces the burden on “on site” systems and lowers the cost of IT infrastructure.

But to fully exploit this advantage, application workloads must be planned and balanced. This means defining which applications make sense to host on public clouds and which should remain on a private cloud.

The most effective way to do this is to segment applications by identifying those that require the most monitoring, control and performance management, or those that store and use personal information. These are the applications that are best kept in a private cloud.

Less sensitive applications that are, for example, subject to frequent scalability or need to maintain high availability will perform better in a public cloud architecture.

2) Migrate in phases

Once the segmentation is defined and the hybrid cloud architecture is in place, identify the processes, applications and tools that are easiest to migrate to the public cloud. These initial workflows can then be used as pilot projects to:

  • test the migration;

  • detect potential incidents;

  • and, if necessary, adjust the migration strategy before moving other IT elements to a public cloud provider.

At each phase of the migration, companies should also consider the impact on the application itself, but also on the applications with which it communicates. It is possible to detect other applications to be migrated or to make changes and updates to the protocols and communication modes of the applications.

3) Determine a scaling strategy

With a hybrid cloud configuration, it is very easy to expand IT capacity by tapping more resources from the public provider as your storage or computing needs increase. Private clouds are therefore highly scalable, but to avoid additional costs that may not be necessary, a scaling strategy is essential.

In particular, organisations should plan a scaling strategy that incorporates:

  • anticipated costs;

  • the sensitivity of the data;

  • the need for control. 

Evaluating these factors helps determine whether to move specific data and applications to the public cloud or the private cloud.

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