Cloud computing has profoundly changed the way we do business. Although cloud cost optimisation has become a top priority for organisations (Cloudwards.net), the cloud is still an attractive prospect for many. According to Gartner, enterprise IT spending on cloud computing will overtake spending on traditional IT in 2025.
Cloud is here to stay.
That doesn’t mean that cloud adoption does not have its challenges and concerns for business. It is true that embracing cloud can help businesses improve their agility, scalability and managed costs better, but it is not always a simple or straightforward process, particularly in sectors that have invested heavily in on-premises environments, operate in highly regulated industries or have many legacy applications with complex dependencies and security requirements.
Moving partly or fully to the cloud is a double-edged decision with implications for the business. Not surprisingly, some businesses are hesitant to migrate. The beauty of Cloud computing today is that businesses do not have to choose between only on-premises or only cloud.
They can opt for a hybrid IT architecture. This involves integrating and managing a mix of resources, including physical servers, virtualised systems, private clouds, public clouds, and possibly even edge computing devices.
(Note hybrid cloud focuses specifically on the combination of public and private cloud environments. Multi cloud environments combine multiple providers - Azure, AWS or Google Cloud using multiple private or public cloud setups.)
The goal of hybrid IT is to create a flexible and scalable infrastructure that leverages the benefits of both on-premises and cloud-based solutions. Businesses adopting hybrid IT typically have control over their infrastructure, allowing them to choose the most suitable deployment model for their applications and workloads.
Hybrid IT adoption is increasing
Every business has unique requirements. On-premises setups give companies full control over their servers, data, security and compliance. The downside is that it is expensive to build, secure and maintain. Cloud environments provide flexibility and allow businesses to scale their infrastructure, but data security, compliance and connectivity concerns mean businesses are cautious about adopting a fully cloud-based solution.
As organisations grow and their requirements become more complex, a hybrid IT approach is emerging as a viable solution that combines the best of both worlds.
Why Hybrid IT?
Hybrid IT enables businesses to leverage the benefits of both environments while addressing their specific requirements. For example, sensitive data or applications can be kept on-premises to meet compliance regulations, while non-sensitive workloads or productivity apps can be hosted on the public cloud for scalability and cost-efficiency.
Businesses gain several advantages when adopting this strategy.
Scalability: You can scale up or down your computing resources as needed, without the need for costly hardware or software investments. With hybrid IT, you can utilise the public cloud to handle peak demand or seasonal fluctuations while keeping your core applications and data on-premises or in a private cloud, ensuring better performance and security for critical operations.
Security: Hybrid IT empowers you to meet your security and compliance requirements effectively. By leveraging the hybrid model, you can store and process sensitive data on-premises or in a private cloud, while leveraging the public cloud for less critical tasks. Public cloud providers offer robust security features such as encryption, firewalls, identity and access management, and threat detection, further strengthening your security posture.
Cost-effectiveness: The hybrid cloud enables you to optimise your IT spending by paying only for the resources you utilise. This eliminates the upfront costs associated with purchasing and maintaining hardware and software, as well as the operational expenses of power, cooling, and maintenance. Additionally, leveraging the economies of scale and competitive pricing provided by public cloud providers for specific workloads can result in significant cost savings for your organisation.
Speed: With a hybrid IT, you can accelerate your time to market and foster innovation by gaining faster and easier access to new technologies and services. Utilising the public cloud allows you to swiftly test and deploy new applications or features without concerns about compatibility or integration challenges. Moreover, you can leverage the expertise and support of public cloud providers to enhance your IT operations and efficiency, enabling you to focus on driving innovation and achieving your business objectives.
It’s not always smooth sailing
Hybrid IT architectures also pose some challenges and limitations that need to be addressed.
- Think security! Hybrid IT may involve sharing data and resources between different cloud platforms and on-premises systems, which increases the risk of data breaches, cyberattacks, and compliance violations.
- Management issues. Managing multiple cloud platforms and on-premises systems, each with its own policies, standards, and interfaces can be a nightmare, leading to governance, provisioning, and scheduling issues, such as inconsistent service levels, resource allocation conflicts, and performance bottlenecks.
- Migration pains. Migrating data and applications between different cloud platforms and on-premises systems, which can be challenging due to data transfer costs, compatibility issues, and downtime risks, is something not to be underestimated if going down that route.
- Bringing it all together. Integrating different cloud platforms and on-premises systems can be difficult due to software and execution issues. For example, some software designs may need to run on a specific cloud platform or on-premises system for performance or security reasons, while others may need to communicate across the hybrid environment for functionality or collaboration reasons.
Infrastructure-as-a-code (IaC) tools can address this pain point. These tools can help you automate the process of creating and managing your infrastructure resources across various environments. Terraform is an example of a such a platform.
- Trust issues. You are trusting your data and systems to different cloud providers and on-premises system vendors and depending on the security, reliability, and quality of their services. This can raise concerns about compliance, accountability, and transparency.
- It’s not all savings. You can save a lot with a hybrid IT strategy but be aware of hidden costs due to network bandwidth consumption, data transfer fees, integration expenses, management overheads, and security investments.
Hybrid IT is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but a carefully planned and managed approach to maximise the potential of on-premises and cloud resources. Your business should assess its current and future business needs, existing IT capabilities, and constraints when formulating a hybrid cloud strategy.
The key to a successful implementation is to partner with trusted experts, like BMIT, who can provide guidance and support throughout your hybrid IT cloud journey. Want to learn more about Hybrid IT? Contact us and one of our experts will reach out and guide you accordingly