A suitably designed, integrated and managed hybrid cloud ecosystem can be as secure and efficient as conventional on-premises IT. However, actually making one a reality in your enterprise includes overcoming barriers around governance, risk, and operations.
Today, we’ll look at how IT leaders can ensure that the right foundations are in place to optimize the management of a hybrid cloud environment. Every environment is unique - there’s no one-size-fits-all. Instead, enterprises must organize and build resources that are suitable for their specific needs.
Start by asking yourself...
In a recent study by Flexera (Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report), 80% of 750 respondents say they've adopted a hybrid cloud strategy by combining public and private clouds. As this hybrid cloud approach evolves, optimizing the management of a hybrid cloud ecosystem will also require an adaptation of cost management, controlled governance, and security workloads and data as much as possible. The real challenge is not to be totally dependent on a single model and to ensure that all the advantages resulting from hybridization lead to proven added value and more efficient IT operations.
But this is no small feat - several issues can make a hybrid cloud management optimization approach totally ineffective.
Virtana's The State of Hybrid Cloud published in February 2021 shows that no single cost visibility tool makes up more than 20% of the tools used by the 350 organizations surveyed. This indicates that companies are finding it difficult to agree on a clear approach and a common tool for cloud environments. The multiplicity of tools, dashboards, and other standalone approaches designed to optimize and give visibility to spending increase complexity and lead to confusion. Avoiding this and moving forward with a clear vision and precise cost management in the hybrid cloud context avoids unnecessary expenses and will help companies create controlled cloud budgets.
According to NTT's 2021 Hybrid Cloud Report, 46.3% of respondents indicate that “building and managing a comprehensive cloud security program is the number one barrier to adopting hybrid cloud”. It's crucial to remember that security and compliance must remain at the heart of hybrid cloud management and optimization decisions. Having a limited vision and consideration of these principles will inevitably create problems in optimizing the management of security policies, risks, or even data (sensitive or not) between different environments.
Finally, as Flexera points out, other challenges can arise. Namely, issues related to governance or the lack of resources and expertise. 75% of respondents declare this to be of critical importance, so we can therefore assume it greatly influences the adoption or optimization of a hybrid cloud ecosystem. Anticipating these challenges and taking them into account is essential if you hope to establish the right foundations.
As you might suspect, if the right foundations are not in place then the entire hybrid cloud ecosystem becomes fragile. Worse still, the adoption of certain good practices could be more difficult, take more time, be completely impossible, or even counterproductive.
In short: feedback. By having a clear and precise vision of the state of their current capacities and resources, as well as of needs to be met in the future. This will allow companies to implement the necessary means to correctly prioritize and respond. A DevOps approach, for example, makes it possible to instill a culture and practices useful for acquiring the agility necessary to organize and build the appropriate resources, but also to collect feedback and quickly change strategy if it is not working as hoped.
To optimize hybrid cloud management, a first step would be to unify IT tools as much as possible, use technologies that are not dependent on a specific vendor (in other words, avoid vendor lock-in), and take advantage of this unifying approach to obtain increased visibility of the various private or public environments that make up the ecosystem (resource use, costs, or even security, for example).
Thinking of automation as a cornerstone of operations and rapid reproducibility without human error, as well as the principles related to monitoring and observability (to allow teams to be increasingly proactive with regard to system events and performance) would be also a good idea. Finally, as mentioned, security and compliance are major issues in optimization, and integrating these aspects into the thought process is important good practice.
A few that come to mind are:
Too many complex tools, technologies, or processes
Of course, hybrid cloud management is evolving and no one is able to say which toolchain, model, or approach will be dominant tomorrow. In order to reduce the complexity of management and operations, and also to anticipate rapid changes, it is necessary to limit tools and technology approaches as much as possible by favoring those that are agnostic and relatively mature.
A lack of planning for future skill requirements
With a multiplicity of environments, technologies, and tools and a need for more advanced and complex optimization, the skills required will be important, numerous, and difficult to access. Anticipate this by planning, training, and hiring well in advance.
Not giving enough importance to changes
Those managing a hybrid cloud ecosystem must establish a very rigorous change management policy. Indeed, cloud environment optimization phases inevitably involve changes, and like any change, no matter how small and controlled, it can strain or break entire systems. This makes it essential to ensure the proper functioning of environments, the ability to detect and reverse a problematic change, or simply follow the progress of optimization decisions.
In my opinion, optimized management of hybrid cloud environments is a continuous process. Even if it is difficult to initiate at the start, it must be resilient and flexible to changes that can occur very quickly and without warning. The next step for CIOs is to imagine how optimization needs can become less complex, faster to implement, and ultimately less expensive in the future. Would the further use of artificial intelligence as a hybrid cloud management aid be relevant?
Each environment or context is unique. This is why the steps to optimize hybrid cloud management will be radically different from one company to another. However, the real challenge for companies is above all to gather as much information as possible and to clearly identify the strengths and weaknesses of the management of their hybrid environment before making optimization decisions. Because after all, good preparation will always lead to more efficiency than a decision hastily taken.